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Nursing is an in-demand career path that is lucrative and rewarding. Nurses are healthcare professionals who provide medical care to healthy, sick, or recovering patients to restore and/or maintain the best quality of life possible. Nurses typically collaborate with physicians, surgeons, therapists, and patients along with their families, to provide the necessary treatment.
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Nurses have a broad array of responsibilities in the healthcare setting. In short, a nurse’s primary role is to ensure patients receive, and often to administer, the medical care they need.
Specific responsibilities of nurses include, but are certainly not limited to:
Many nurses work in hospitals, but there are numerous other healthcare settings employing nurses. Other facilities you may work in as a nurse include doctors’ offices, urgent care facilities, pharmacies, schools, home healthcare services, nursing care facilities, and other clinical settings.
While there are different types of nurses working with various specialties, the general 5-step nursing process is as follows:
Assessment: Patients are assessed on an in-depth level. Depending on a patient’s condition, assessments may be physiological, but can also be psychological, cultural, and socio-economical. Lifestyle factors are also considered during the assessment.
Diagnosis: After consultation with the patient, and possibly doctors/other nurses, a diagnosis will be given which will be the basis for the patient care plan. Diagnoses should consider other ways in which the condition has affected the patient.
Outcomes and Planning: Nurses set measurable and realistic goals for a patient in his or her care plan. Assessment data will be used to monitor progress and recorded in the patient care plan. Other relevant healthcare professionals can use this data as needed when caring for the patient.
Implementation: A patient’s progress is documented as their medical care is implemented. The implementation process of patient care is designed to be administered as consistently as needed for his or her well being.
Evaluation: The patient’s status in addition to the effectiveness of health care is evaluated. Nurses may modify the plans as needed. Observing a patient’s response to his or her care plan can determine any next steps needing to be taken.
The education you need to become a nurse will vary depending on how you’d like to advance your career. For instance, if you wish to become a nurse practitioner, you will need to at least get your bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). However, if you wish to become a CNA or a registered nurse, you will need to either earn an associate degree, or enroll in a certificate program.
Certificate programs can provide accelerated training options taking anywhere from 16 to 24 months to complete. Enrolling in an associate degree program generally takes 2 years to complete. Both accredited certificate and associate degree programs should prepare you to take the proper exams to earn your certification.
It is important, however, to ensure that your school is accredited. Only students who have graduated from an accredited nursing program are eligible to take the NCLEX or CNA certification exam. These exams are essential to becoming a nurse.
If you do decide to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN), your education will generally take 4 years to complete. While earning a BSN takes longer than an associate or certificate degree, it can qualify you for career advancement. With a BSN you can become a nurse practitioner.
Once you earn your degree, you will either need to take the NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse, or the CNA certification exam to become a CNA. Passing these exams will make you licensed and ready to work.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, registered nurses made an average of $89,010, with the top 10 percent making $129,400. The BLS reports that nurse practitioners in 2022 earned an average of $124,680, with the top 10 percent making $165,240. The BLS also reported that certified nursing assistants in 2022 earned an average of $36,220, with the top 10 percent making $45,940.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that demand for nurses is expected to steadily increase 6 percent by 2031, which is as fast as the national average for all occupations.
Nursing is a great career with a lot of variety. Whichever direction you choose to take your nursing career in, you can be content in knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of others, and putting your knowledge to good use.
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