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Discovering a Career in Nursing

Nurses provide care and comfort to everyone from infants to the elderly, from basic tasks like changing bed sheets and helping individuals dress themselves to treating patients, analyzing health information, operating medical machines, and providing public education about health care topics.

Nursing Roles
Multiple levels of nursing give you ample options to develop a nursing career. Nursing aides and assistants do the most basic kinds of work. Licensed practitioner nurses (LPNs) have greater responsibilities such as monitoring medical equipment, supervising aides, and taking samples for analysis. Registered nurses (RNs) are the largest group of health care individuals with more than 2.5 million RNs in the U.S. according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). RNs can create health plans for patients as well as contribute to the current plans. They consult with doctors and other clinicians as well as direct LPNs and nursing attendants. RNs can specialize in a variety of areas such as working with specific population segments or specific diseases and ailments.

The Big Health Boom
One of the main benefits of being a nurse is simply being able to help people heal and overcome disease or discomfort. According to projections by the BLS, over a half of a million new RN jobs will be created between 2006 and 2016. This growth suggests that nurses should enjoy job stability as well as find a range of career options. Because of the recent nursing faculty shortage, there are opportunities for nurses to become teachers. Some hospitals and other organizations offer subsidies for education and signing bonuses to attract nurses.

Prepping for a Nursing Career
Home health aides and nursing aides often only need on-the-job training, but most other nursing careers require a higher level of education as well as certification. RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree programs can help individuals get the education they need, and RN to MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree programs are also available. Individuals can also continue their education to earn doctorates in nursing (DNP=Doctor of Nursing Practice). Terminal nursing degrees are generally practice-focused or research-focused. The doctorate degree prepares an individual to join nursing faculty ranks or work on health care policy issues in larger organizations.

If helping people heal is important to you, a career in nursing can be a great long-term move to bring you financial stability and personal rewards.


Publish date: June 30, 2008