Becoming a nurse will provide a career that positively affects the lives of people and their families. Many nursing jobs are available, and someone considering a profession in nursing has ample options for career paths. Depending on the amount of education and training received, this line of work offers a variety of choices, as there are many different types of nurses.
Licensed Practical Nurses
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is one who has received a two year degree to work in the nursing field. LPN’s give care to patients, chart vital signs, give oral medications, and do many other tasks. They typically work under the direction of a registered nurse. Licensed vocational nurses (LVN’s) do all of the activities of LPN’s but they also have additional training to manage intravenous sites and use them for medication administration. LPN’s and LVN’s frequently work in jobs based in doctor’s offices, nursing homes, hospitals, and home health care.
A registered nurse (RN) is the most common type of nurse. Registered nurses have completed either a two year associate degree or diploma program, or have received a Bachelor Degree in nursing. Both types of school programs allow graduates to apply for licensure. Registered nurses are found in many locations and areas of health care. Additional training is sometimes necessary above and beyond what is received in traditional schooling to work in certain jobs. Registered nurses perform many duties for patients, and collaborate with physicians. There are various types of RN jobs and many opportunities available.
Registered nurses frequently work in hospitals, which have many types of work to care for people. Depending on the acuity of patients, many units are staffed solely with RN’s working under the direction of physicians, as the complexity of care for certain patients requires a more advanced level of training than that of an LPN. Many RN’s work in hospital units that focus on specific physical symptoms and care of patients.
Emergency room nurses work with those who arrive at the hospital in crisis situations. Emergency room nurses assist physicians with care of patients and must be willing to think and act quickly in urgent circumstances. Certain types of emergency room nurses are also called flight nurses. These nurses transport critically ill patients via helicopter or airplane from the scene of an accident or from one hospital to another with an area equipped for higher levels of care. They must be able to act quickly in a crisis and must be resourceful while flying to take the best care of the patient.
Intensive care nurses work with those who are critically injured or ill. These nurses are trained to notice any small change in patient condition that can lead to worsening of their health. Intensive care nurses must be knowledgeable about all types of patients, their body systems, and frequent illnesses or susceptibility of certain populations including adults, children, and the elderly.
Surgical nurses work in the operating room and assist physicians with what they need to perform surgery. They prepare patients for procedures and take care of them while under anesthesia. Recovery room nurses are those that care for patients after surgery. During a time that a patient is waking up from anesthesia, recovery room nurses monitor their vital signs, make certain they are waking up and adjusting well, and notify family members of their progress.
Cardiovascular nurses specialize in caring for those patients who have heart conditions, and these nurses are knowledgeable about the human heart and circulatory system. They are trained to care for people who have had heart surgery, who are recovering from heart attacks, or who need procedures to maintain proper heart function.
Urology and nephrology nurses are those who work with patients who have difficulty with their kidneys or bladder. Some of these types of nurses administer dialysis under the direction of a physician. Many of these nurses work with patients and teach them about care of their urogenital system.
Orthopedic nurses are those that care for patients who have bone problems. This can include caring for someone who has had hip or knee surgery, arranging physical therapy exercises to aid in walking, or assisting physicians in immobilizing injured extremities, in addition to many other tasks.
Neuroscience nurses specialize in caring for people who have had injuries to the head or spinal cord. These nurses know when the condition of a patient changes and how this affects their mental ability. They are able to care for those who have had changes in their health due to neurological illness such as Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis. These nurses are well prepared to handle changes in various body functions.
Oncology nurses work with people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Their care involves treatment after surgery, administering chemotherapy, and helping physicians with therapy, as well as many other tasks. Oncology nurses work to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and they coordinate services so people will receive the best care.
Psychiatric nurses work with patients who have psychiatric disorders. Sometimes mental illness can be so severe that it requires hospitalization. Psychiatric nurses work with patients to manage their medications; coordinate therapy and work in groups, and keep in touch with physicians to determine what treatments are working for the patient.
Labor and delivery nurses assist mothers who are preparing to have a baby. These nurses monitor the progression of labor and notify the physician when it is time to deliver. They assist the doctor in delivery of the baby, or help in the operating room if there needs to be a Cesarean section.
Post-partum nurses care for mothers after they have delivered a baby. They manage pain, assist new mothers with getting up and taking care of themselves, and teach parents how to care for their new baby.
Nursery nurses take care of newborn babies. Nursery nurses monitor infants to see that they are eating and staying healthy. They also instruct parents in how to care for the baby, such as in bath demonstrations or feeding instructions. Neonatal intensive care units (NICU) are places where babies who are premature or those who have become ill stay in the hospital. NICU nurses work closely with physicians to monitor for changes in the health of these babies. They are specially trained in this form of critical care so the babies will grow and regain health in order to go home.
Pediatric nurses work with children up to the age of eighteen. These nurses are familiar with childhood illnesses and surgeries and know how to work with kids and their families.
Radiology nurses are those that work in the areas of x-ray. They help with procedures such as ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scans. Radiology nurses assist physicians in these procedures and care for patients during the procedure.
Rehabilitation nurses assist with patients who are undergoing some form of care to gain back their strength or abilities. Some patients need help with physical activities such as walking; others need assistance with the activities of daily living such as brushing their teeth. Rehabilitation nurses work with specific therapists to coordinate efforts to help these patients. Some rehabilitation nurses also are employed specifically in the area of drug or alcohol treatment. These nurses care for patients who are on a path to become sober and need assistance. They manage therapy groups and physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Some nurses work between hospitals as travel or agency nurses. These nurses are assigned to a specific hospital with approved hours in order to fill in if there is a shortage. They sometimes move to different states to work in areas where there is a shortage, especially in areas that require specific training where there may be a lack of nurses.
Not all nurses work in hospitals. Due to changes in health care, there are now many more circumstances that require the help of a nurse within the community.
Home health nurses visit people in their homes when they have been recently sick or hospitalized. Home health nurses are able to monitor a patient at home and make sure their health is improving. They maintain contact with a doctor if circumstances change and the patient needs to be seen in a clinic or must go to the hospital.
Clinic nurses work in doctor’s offices alongside physicians. Clinic nurses admit patients and prepare them to see the doctor. They then carry out physician orders for procedures to be done in the clinic. Clinic nurses also work as phone triage, in that they answer calls from patients who have questions about their health or who are wondering if they need to come in to be seen by a doctor.
School nurses work in the school system taking care of students who become ill or injured. These nurses are also responsible for checking heights and weights of students, checking hearing and vision, giving students medications if they must be taken during the day, and staying in contact with parents if anything arises at school that could change a student’s health.
Public health nurses are those who care for patients in the community who do not have financial resources to pay for assistance. Public health nurses are under the direction of the county or the state for services. They typically see patients in their homes and monitor their health. Their work is similar to that of a home health nurse. Many public health nurses care for pregnant mothers to determine if they are taking care of themselves and their health during the pregnancy. They also see the babies that are born after they have been dismissed from the hospital to find out if they are gaining weight and staying healthy at home.
Hospice nurses care for patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. These nurses offer care and support for those who want to die with dignity. Their work includes management of medications, comfort measures, and supporting family members. Hospice nurses have specialized training in working with those that are grieving and helping them handle the acceptance of death.
Infection control nurses are those that work in a hospital or some other business setting to manage the practices of workers in an effort to control infection. For example, an infection control nurse who is employed by a hospital would check charting practices of staff nurses to ensure they are following protocol in order to avoid infection for patients. When an infection does occur, they follow up on what actions took place that could have caused the infection. They also update and educate staff about policies to prevent continued infections both in the building and the community.
Occupational health nurses are those that care for healthcare staff. They are sometimes called employee health nurses, and they tend to the needs of healthcare workers to manage their health and wellness. Occupational health nurses also monitor safety and health practices throughout the building to check for safety standards of workers and to determine if the practices of the building are being maintained at adequate safety levels as required by the governing body of the organization.
Legal nurses are those who are specially trained to work in law and court cases. A legal nurse has a nursing license with extra work and experience in cases pertaining to healthcare. Legal nurses tend to situations that include medical malpractice suits and other cases that involve healthcare. Due to their medical background, these nurses are able to peruse chart records and other documents to determine if every person involved was acting ethically. They also testify about their results if the case goes to court.
Research nurses are those that work in areas of developing technology or new investigations to further healthcare capabilities in certain areas. Research nurses work with patients who have an illness and who are undergoing clinical trials. They document side effects and outcomes of new therapies and medications. Research nurses help to maintain a continued growth in the areas of study and exploration for future therapies.
A nurse that is a case manager works with people in hospitals, nursing homes, and in the community to coordinate services on their behalf. Nurse case managers are familiar with different therapies, they maintain contact with physicians, they understand the insurance process for various companies, and they can arrange services when necessary. Many people who need a range of services in order to function at home require the use of a case manager to coordinate these benefits in order to manage their health.
Nurses that work in nursing homes and retirement communities are those that care for people who are elderly. They have experience and training in the needs of the geriatric community. Nursing home nurses manage patient medications, coordinate services, and oversee the work of aids and helpers. Nursing home nurses must also handle situations with family members in order to provide the best care for the elderly clients that live there.
Advanced Practice Nurses
Registered nurses can go forward with their training and education to obtain an advanced degree in nursing. These degrees include a Master’s Degree or even a Doctorate in nursing that usually specializes in a particular area and allows them to do specific jobs within the nursing field.
Nurse instructors are those that work at schools or universities with nursing degree programs. They teach classes related to nursing and body systems to students that are attending classes for a nursing diploma or degree. Nurse instructors also work with staff nurses and in various places in the community that their students will be working as part of their clinical requirement. Nurse instructors must maintain knowledge of the subjects they are teaching, they must be flexible to meet student needs and maintain a level of friendly professionalism with their students.
Nurse midwives are those that are trained to deliver babies. Nurse midwives work under the guidance of a doctor to monitor mothers throughout their pregnancy. They can write prescriptions and assist in cesarean sections if necessary. When it is time for a mother to deliver, nurse midwives deliver the baby and perform all the necessary steps to ensure a healthy mother. They then see the mother in the post partum period to determine that she is healing normally.
A clinical nurse specialist is one who has an advanced degree in nursing and research. Clinical nurse specialists keep up to date with current research practices and then teach healthcare staff about these practices in order to maintain the most up to date methods of practice. Many clinical nurse specialists also conduct research in their specific area of expertise and publish the findings to educate others.
Nurse practitioners are those that work in partnership with physicians to care for patients. They are usually located in hospitals or clinics. Nurse practitioners see patients when they are ill or injured and continue to monitor their health. They typically work to fill in some of the role of the physician when there is an overload of patients. They are able write prescriptions and order procedures, but they are ultimately under the guidance of a physician.
Forensic nurses are those that work in cases involving criminal activity. Forensic nurses have special training to work with those who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or other criminal cases. They obtain evidence about how the incident occurred and examine patients for patterns of injury. Forensic nurses also testify in court, using their medical expertise as a witness for certain cases.
Nurse anesthetists are those that work in hospitals and surgery centers to provide anesthesia for patients who are undergoing surgery or other procedures. Nurse anesthetists monitor patients while they are asleep from anesthesia, as well as continually check their vital signs. They perform procedures such as spinal anesthesia, epidurals, or local blocks. They stay with patients who are awake during the procedures where they do not sleep and maintain their comfort throughout the process.
For someone who wants to become a nurse, the opportunities are almost endless. There are many different types of nursing prospects available for study and jobs. For someone who has a degree in nursing and who has worked in a particular field, they may change nursing jobs with the effect of changing their entire career. Two people that are both nurses can have vastly different jobs but still be considered in the same career. The opportunities abound for those interested in this field and there are many jobs available. Becoming a nurse is a worthwhile effort that positively affects the lives of many people.