What is Nursing & What Do Nurses Do? Different Types and Roles of Nurses

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What is Nursing & What do Nurses do?

Nursing can be delineated as both AN art and a science; a heart and a mind. At its heart, lies basic respect for human dignity and an intuition for a patient’s desires. this is often supported by the mind, in the kind of rigorous core learning. due to the huge range of specialisms and complex skills within the nursing profession, every nurse can have specific strengths, passions, and experiences.

Nursing, as an integral part of the health care system, encompasses the promotion of health, prevention of health problems, and care of physically sick, insane, and disabled individuals of all ages, altogether health care and other community settings. within this broad spectrum of health care, the phenomena of particular concern to nurses are individual, family, and group “responses to actual or potential health problems” (ANA, 1980, P.9). These human responses range generally from health-restoring reactions to an individual episode of illness to the development of policy in promoting the long-run health of a population.

The unique function of nurses in caring for individuals, sick or well, is to assess their responses to their health status and to assist them in the performance of those activities contributing to health or recovery or to dignified death that they would perform unaided if they had the necessary strength, will, or knowledge and to do this in such a way as to help them gain full of partial independence as rapidly as possible (Henderson, 1977, p.4). Within the total health care environment, nurses share with other health professionals and those in other sectors of public service the functions of planning, implementation, and evaluation to ensure the adequacy of the health system for promoting health, preventing illness, and caring for ill and disabled people. (ICN, 1987)

There are more than 3 million registered nurses in the United States. In fact, nurses outnumber doctors 3:1 in the health care industry. Click To Tweet

What precisely Do Nurses Do?

In a field, as varied as nursing, there’s no typical answer. Responsibilities will vary from making acute treatment decisions to providing inoculations in faculties. The key unifying characteristic in each role is the ability and drive that it takes to be a nurse. Through long-term monitoring of patients’ behavior and knowledge-based expertise, nurses are best placed to take an all-encompassing view of a patient’s wellbeing.

They are continuously monitoring and evaluating patients, nurses should be good, adaptive, educated and proficient in critical thinking. Nurses’ responsibilities embrace coordinative with multiple specialists to make sure that their patients are adequately on the road to recovery. Through the various types of care, a nurse’s capabilities extend past their stereotypical personas; while many envision nurses donned in medical scrubs and running through a hospital, a nurse may come in many forms.

Specifically, here are some of the thing’s nurses do on a typical day:

  • Conduct physical exams
  • Take detailed health care histories
  • Listen to patients and analyze their physical and emotional needs
  • Provide counseling and health care education to patients
  • Coordinate care with other health care providers and specialists
  • Stay current with advances in health care options, medications, and treatment plans
  • Draw blood, and perform another health-related testing
  • Check a patient’s vital signs

The degree they hold might also dictate which are of specialty they’re competent in practicing in. There are over a hundred nursing specialties, including:

  • Ambulatory
  • Burn care
  • Camp or school
  • Diabetes care
  • Emergency nursing
  • Flight/transport
  • Forensic nursing
  • Geriatrics
  • Home health
  • Hospice
  • Labor and delivery
  • Medical-surgical care
  • Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
  • Nephrology
  • Neuroscience
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatric care
  • Radiology
  • Rheumatology
  • Telemetry
  • Transplant
  • Trauma
  • Wound, ostomy and continence care

Some specialties and practice settings require certain educational criteria such as an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN or ASN), Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN), Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN), ), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP,), Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD), or for legal nursing specialties, a Juris Doctor (JD) may be required. A registered nurse can also earn specialty certification.

Types Of Nurses (With Requirements)

Answering the question of what do nurses do will be difficult because of the actual fact that nurses are proficient in several fields and may choose to focus their trade specifically in certain types of care. Some specific nursing fields include geriatrics, critical care, pediatrics, treatment planning, and case management. From working face-to-face with patients to managing their paperwork, nurses play a large role in our lives and the profession continues to be a prosperous career path for those considering taking on this role. Some different types of nurses and their education requirements include:

  1. The licensed practical nurse (LPN)

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work closely with registered nurses (RNs) and physicians to supply patients with basic medical aid. several new nurses begin out as an LPN to gain nursing experience before advancing their career with an associate (ASN) or bachelor’s (BSN) degree.

Due to an aging population, there is a growing need for LPNs and their duties in long-run care, like rehabilitation centers, residential treatment centers, and hospice. Employment for LPNs is expected to increase by as much as twelve percent through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Education: Diploma in practical Nursing (DPN)
  • Certifications Needed: must pass the NCLEX-PN examination
  1. Registered nurse (RN)

Registered nurses (RNs) play a central role in helping healthcare organizations provide quality care to a diverse and growing patient population. In general, RN positions are expected to grow by as much as 15 percent through 2026, adding more than 400,000 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BSN-prepared nurses are the most sought-after RNs in the job market and can advance to leadership and management roles more quickly than the ASN nurse.

  • Education: ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
  • Certifications needed: Must pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  1. Travel nurse

Travel nurses are registered nurses who help hospitals and healthcare organizations fill workforce gaps. For example, travel nurses might fill in for nurses who are on maternity or sick leave, or they could be called to another country to help deal with an emergency situation like a national disaster.

If you want to help others and see the world at the same time, then a career as a travel nurse could be right for you.

  • Education: ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
  • Certifications needed: RN
  1. Med-surgical nurse

A med-surg nurse works on the medical/surgical floor of a hospital. Med-surg nurses must have strong time management and organizational skills, as they often care for multiple patients at a time. They also need to be skilled communicators in order to work effectively with multiple healthcare team members, such as doctors and surgical staff.

If you like a fast-paced work environment where no two days are the same, then a career as a med-surg nurse might be a good fit for you.

  • Education: ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
  • Certifications needed: RN
  1. Emergency room nurse

Emergency room nurses:  nurses provide urgent care to patients in hospitals suffering from sometimes life-threatening injuries or illnesses. ER nurses often work alongside emergency medical staff and first responders, so they must have strong communication, critical thinking, and collaboration skills to coordinate care and share information across these teams.

As an ER nurse, you can work in a variety of settings, from Level 1 trauma centers to rural hospitals or clinics, and across a range of nursing specialties, from trauma to pediatrics. ER nurses are registered nurses and must obtain at least an ASN

Many ER nurses have a BSN and can go on to obtain additional certifications for specialized care, such as advanced cardiac, pediatric, and newborn life support.

  • Education: ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
  • Certifications needed: RN; some hospitals might also require Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) certification
  1. Oncology nurse

Oncology nurses are involved in many aspects of cancer diagnoses and treatment, from early detection to symptom management. They most often work in hospitals, but they can also be employed by home care organizations, specialty medical centers, and ambulatory centers.

While cancer affects individuals of all ages, 69 percent of new cases are diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 55 and 84, according to the National Cancer Institute. As the baby boomer generation ages and the pool of older cancer patients increases, oncology nurses will become an even more important part of the healthcare workforce.

  • Education: ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
  • Certifications needed: RN and Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN®)

Types of Nurse

  1. Nurse informatics specialist

Nursing informatics is a growing field that integrates nursing science with information technology to improve systems and processes for hospitals and large medical facilities. A nursing informatics specialist serves as a vital “technology liaison” for the hospital staff, while still performing typical nursing duties.

For example, their duties include analyzing data to identify and reduce the risk of medical errors, or evaluating and implementing new workflow processes to improve patient care. As a nurse informatics specialist, you are a critical team member of a hospital’s nursing and IT staff.

  • Education: BSN (required) or MSN (recommended for advanced roles)
  • Certifications needed: RN; some nurse informatics specialists also pursue advanced degrees in information technology or computer science.
  1. Nurse manager

Nurse managers are experienced nurse leaders who oversee a team of nurses and other healthcare staff. They help ensure positive patient outcomes and make it possible for an organization to achieve a higher standard of care.

Effective nurse managers must have a combination of strong leadership, critical thinking and communication skills to effectively manage teams and coordinate patient care. If you want to play a role in improving the standard of patient care, then a nurse manager might be the right position for you.

  • Education: BSN (required) or MSN (recommended for advanced roles)
  • Certifications needed: RN
  1. Nurse educator

As more students seek entry to nursing degree programs, demand for skilled nurse educators is on the rise. In an academic setting, nurse educators design and implement continuing education programs for nursing students and practicing nurses.

In a hospital or other clinical setting, nurse educators help train nursing staff and other healthcare professionals. As experienced nursing professionals, nurse educators can identify opportunities to improve processes and mitigate risks to the patient, nurse, and hospital.

  • Education: MSN in Nurse Education
  • Certifications needed: RN
  1. Nurse anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist is a special type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who is certified and trained in administering anesthesia to patients. They can provide care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, physician’s offices, rural and medically underserved areas, and the military. They can also work in non-clinical settings as a teacher, researcher, or administrator.

Employment for nurse anesthetists is expected to grow by 16 percent by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and its median annual pay is $165,120 per year. Due to fast-growing employment and ample career advancement opportunities, U.S. News ranked Nurse Anesthetist #3 on its list of Best Healthcare Jobs for 2019.

  • Education level: MSN
  • Certifications needed: Must pass the National Certification Exam (CNE) administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)
  1. Nurse midwife

Nurse-midwives are APRNs who provide prenatal, family planning and obstetric care. Often, they serve as primary caregivers for women and their newborns. They can also be involved in general wellness care for new mothers and babies, providing education on nutrition and disease prevention.

Employment for nurse midwives is expected to grow by 21 percent through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary for a nurse midwife is $100,590.

  • Education level: MSN
  • Certifications needed: Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
  1. Nurse practitioner

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) provide advanced care that includes health promotion, health prevention, wellness and disease management, as well as diagnosis and treating acute, chronic, and episodic illness. Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are a special type of NP that works with patients of all ages.

In some rural or medically underserved areas, NPs are increasingly becoming the front line for patient care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $103,880 – and demand for NPS is expected to grow by 36 percent through 2026, adding as many as 56,100 new jobs.

  • Education level: MSN FNP Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Certifications Needed: State licensure requirements might vary

Why Become A Nurse?

There is an old adage that you need a doctor to diagnose you, but a nurse to save your life. We can all recall a time when a nurse was needed most: from a normal check-up in a doctor’s office to an emergency situation that required a trip to the hospital.

Most people can think of a nurse who has played a significant role in their life at some time, whether it’s a family member, close friend, acquaintance, or the person you’ve been seeing at your doctor’s office for decades. You might even have a nurse in your phonebook who you dial if WebMD doesn’t quite answer your medical questions.

To become a nurse is to become someone who improves and saves the lives of others. If you’re looking for a career where you can put your desire to help others to excellent use, becoming a nurse is an excellent career path for you.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Nurse?

Becoming a nurse can take anywhere from 1 to 4 years, depending on the level of nursing education planned.

  • LPN/LVN: 1 year
  • Associates degree RN: 2 years
  • Bachelor’s degree RN: 4 years

Nurses seeking an advanced degree will require additional education beyond their basic nursing education, which can range from two to five years depending on the degree being obtained.

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