Does nursing remind you of mundane bedside practices and gloomy hospital atmosphere? Then this nursing career guide will help demystify this profession, what it entails and the educational requirements needed. Apart from bedside practice, a career in nursing can encompass administrative functions such as nurse administrator and nurse educator. This informative nursing career guide gives you an insight into various aspects of the nursing vocation. Find out if you have it in you to take up a travel nursing career.
Nursing Career options
Today, nursing is the biggest health care profession in the U.S. with almost 2.6 million registered nurses (RN). Career opportunities are myriad and you can work in a variety of practice settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, community and public health agencies, independent practice, ambulatory care centers, U.S. Public Health Service, military services (Army, Navy and Air Force), Veteran's Administration Medical centers and in any setting where health care services are needed.
Nursing practice areas also include childcare, including newborn infants and caring for the elderly and services for pregnant women. The operation room, critical care and emergency departments are areas where trained and specialized nurses are needed. Other specialty areas of nursing are injury nursing, cancer nursing and caring for heart attack and heart surgery.
A career in nursing offers considerable amount of flexibility. As a nurse you can either work in one setting or take short-term assignments as travel nurse. Travel nurses fill temporary assignments for nursing staff all over the globe. However nurses with advanced education become nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, educators, researchers and managers.
The two new areas in nursing career are tele-health nursing and overall patient care. Practicing tele-health involves expert knowledge that has to be disseminated over the telephone, computer or any other electronic media for counseling, teaching and monitoring patients via telephone, computer or other electronic means. This widens the possibilities and career opportunities in nursing.
Travel nursing career offers options for nurses to meet different people and travel to different locations. Travel nursing not only provides experience and career advancement but also higher salaries. Typically travel nursing agencies offer travel costs besides providing food and accommodation. In addition, they give medical and 401(k) facilities.
Travel nurses can find career opportunities in hotels, cruise liners and ambulatory hospitals. They are used in situations where there is staff shortage problems or during specific periods of the year. Travel nursing career prospects depend much on the experience and adjustability factors.
Nursing career prospects
With over 100,000 vacant positions and an ever-growing need for healthcare workers, the career prospects in the nursing sector are on the increase. Once you finish your nursing school and become a registered nurse (RN) after hours of practical experience and specialized knowledge, you are eligible for employment. Possessing a RN status is more likely to ensure a future filled with rewarding experiences, unmatched opportunities and competitive salary and excellent benefits.
According to the American Nurses Association, 'The average staff nurse working in all settings earns $35,212. (Hospital staff nurses reported $36,618.) Administrators earn $45,071. Instructors earn $36,896. Supervisors earn $38,979. The average Clinical Nurse Specialist earns $41,226; Nurse Practitioners on average earn $71,000, Nurse Anesthetists: $113,000.' (Based on US Department of Labor's Statistics on Registered Nurses)
On an average an entry-level staff nurse may be paid $30,000 to $45,000 per year plus additional pay for evening, night and weekend shifts. There are also attractive benefit packages for nurses at all levels. These include health insurance, holiday pay, vacation, college tuition reimbursement, childcare, flexible scheduling and pension plans. However, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and nurses with advanced degrees earn considerably higher salaries. Some are eligible to receive direct payment from insurance companies for their services.
How to train for nursing?
Entry level Education/ Degrees: In order to become a registered nurse (RN), you need to graduate from a nursing program. This enables you to take the state licensure examination. There are more than 1500 nursing programs in the U.S. and there are three types of nursing programs that prepare you to assume different roles once you graduate.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BS/BSN): This four-year program offered at all colleges and universities offers considerable opportunities for career growth. Apart from independent nursing roles, BSN graduates are prepared for all health care settings including leadership and management. BSN is essential for acquiring master's degree in nursing. BSN is preferred and often required for military nursing, management, public health nursing, overseas/development nursing, forensic nursing and school nursing.
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): ADN is a two-to-three year program offered at junior and community colleges. This course trains and prepares you to handle direct patient care in various settings. However you can also find some hospital nursing schools, colleges and universities offering ADN program.
Hospital Diploma: This two-to-three year diploma program is based in hospital settings. Many diploma schools are affiliated with junior colleges, where you may also take basic science and English requirements, thereby earning an Associate's Degree along with a diploma in nursing.
After completing a nursing program, you are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination to become a Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). This test is taken after graduating from a state-approved nursing school. These examinations are offered through State Board of Nursing.
Advanced Degrees in Nursing
Other options are available for Nurses with diplomas and ADN degrees who wish to complete a Bachelor's or Master's degree program in nursing. Meanwhile master's degree program prepares nurses for more independent roles such as nurse practitioner, nurse mid-wife, nurse anesthetist or nurse psychotherapist to name a few.
After completing your nursing program you can take up a variety of nursing positions based on your level of education and experience.
Case Manager: Nurse Case Manager helps in the process of organizing and coordinating resources and services in response to individual health care needs.
Certified Nurse Mid-wife: This specialty nurse supports childbearing women during preconception, prenatal, labor and delivery and postpartum periods as well as provides family-planning counseling and gynecological care.
Staff Nurse: The entry-level staff nurse makes nursing judgments based on scientific knowledge and relies on procedures and standardized care plans.
The other nursing positions include Clinical nurse specialist, Manger/Administrator, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Educator and Nurse Practitioner.
The master's program in nursing helps you specialize in one single area and enables you to don independent nursing roles.
Radiology nursing: Radiology nurses provide care and support to patients undergoing diagnosis in radiation imaging environments including ultrasonography, magnetic resonance and radiation oncology.
Rehabilitation Nursing: Nurses in this field provide physical and emotional support to patients and the families of patients with illnesses or disabilities that affect their ability to function normally. They aid in the patient's altered lifestyles.
AIDS Care Nursing: These nurses respond to the physical, psychological, spiritual and social concerns of patients with AIDS. They care for the chronically ill and those dying with numerous clinical manifestations.
Forensic Nursing: Nurses in this sector work with law enforcement officials to aid in the investigation of crimes such as sexual assault, accidental death, abuse and assault. They also treat the victims of these crimes.
Meanwhile nursing specialties also include Ambulatory care nursing, Genetic nursing, Gastroenterology / Endoscopy nursing, Intravenous therapy nursing, Long-term care nursing, sub acute care nursing, transplant nursing, school nursing, psychiatric nursing, orthopedic nursing, ophthalmic nursing, trauma nursing - the list is long! You can find many nursing organizations online, providing a detailed vision of each nursing specialty, American Academy of Nursing, American Nurses Association and National Student Nurses Association being among the prominent ones.