Whenever you get sick or hurt, you or your parents probably set up an appointment for a doctor’s visit. During this appointment, you will not only see your doctor, but also receive plenty of one-on-one medical attention from a caring nurse. Nurses are integral to health care, as they help to ensure that all patients are cared for long before and after the physician leaves. If you are interested in joining the nursing profession so that you may help others in need, read on to find out exactly what a nurse does and how you can become one.
The Job of a Nurse
Nursing is the biggest sector in the health care industry. In fact, there are approximately 2.6 million jobs for registered nurses (RNs), and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be more than 500,000 more nursing jobs within the next decade. There is a huge demand for nurses because as the population grows and ages, more medical care professionals will be needed.
The primary jobs of a nurse are to make their patients feel comfortable and to teach them about their illness or injury as well as their treatment. They do this by responding to patients who call for water, food, or any other need, as well as monitoring the patient’s pain level. They also meet with the patient’s family to discuss at-home care and schedule follow-up examinations if necessary.
In addition to helping patients in need, nurses aid physicians by making note of each patient’s vital signs, such as temperature and blood pressure, writing down the patient’s symptoms, asking for clarification of the patient’s medical history, and preparing the patient for the physician’s visit. They may also collect samples from the patient for laboratory tests. Nurses must be patient, understanding, and move quickly and accurately. This is especially important in cases where the patient is scared or otherwise uncooperative, such as when working with children. For this reason, nurses must be highly trained in effectively communicating and interacting with people.
Nurses tend to work in many different types of environments, from hospitals to private care facilities. The additional duties of a nurse also depends on what type of health care they specialize in. For example, ophthalmic nurses work with ophthalmologists to treat patients with eye disorders and those undergoing eye surgery, so they must be familiar with working with eyes as opposed to respiratory nurses, who work with patients with asthma, cystic fibrosis, and other lung and breathing problems.
Nurses take on a variety of different responsibilities depending on where they work, but the underlying purposes of their job remains the same – to provide care and comfort to patients as well as to help physicians properly diagnose and treat them.
Requirements and Additional Information
The road to becoming a nurse requires determination and hard work. Different levels of education are required for different levels of nursing, though all nurses must have a high school diploma before they may complete anything else. For those interested in becoming licensed practical or vocational nurses (LPNs), which are nurses that work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and provide basic bedside care, a one-year training program from a community college is necessary. For those wanting to become RNs, an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing are the most popular ways to enter the field. A bachelor’s degree is quickly becoming the preferred choice for employers, so you should consider earning that degree level if you can. A master’s degree is also available in nursing, and those who earn this degree typically want to become nurse researchers, teachers, or practitioners.
All nurses will have to complete a period of supervised clinical experience, which will help them build up their work experience. After completing a nursing degree program, nurses must also pass a national exam for licensure. LPNs take the NCLEX-PN examination and all other nurses take the NCLEX-RN examination. The exam tests recent nursing graduates on their patient care knowledge to ensure that they are ready to work professionally. Keep in mind that most states require nurses to meet continuing education requirements for licensure as well. This mandate guarantees that every nurse stays updated on new developments in nursing.
Earning a nursing education is easier than ever, thanks to numerous accredited online schools offering online nursing programs. These programs typically also offer plenty of assistance if you ever need it, as their main goal is to help you learn the fundamentals of nursing. You can even contact your chosen school’s financial department to find out ways that you can lower the cost of tuition so that your education can be more affordable.
Once you get everything in motion and work hard, you can earn your nursing licensure in no time. You will find that a new, exciting career awaits and you will have the opportunity to change the lives of hundreds of patients for the better.
This guest contribution was submitted by Kitty Holman, who specializes in writing about nursing colleges. Questions and comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.