Careers in Nursing – A Look At The Various Options

As the population in the U.S. continues to age a demand for nurses is on the rise and is expected to continue increasing as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. A career field that once seemed narrow with only a few choices of either becoming an RN or LPN who works in a hospital or doctor’s office has exploded with career opportunities.

After you decide what type of nurse you want to be certified as, such as an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), RN (Registered Nurse), CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), or NP (Nurse Practitioner), you can select a nursing career specialty that suits your interests. A sampling of specialties is listed below.

  • ambulatory care
  • anesthesia
  • cardiac care
  • case management
  • critical care
  • emergency
  • forensics
  • gastroenterology
  • geriatrics
  • holistic hiv/aids
  • informatics (combines use of computers with nursing knowledge)
  • legal nursing
  • midwifery
  • military nurse
  • neonatal
  • neuroscience
  • nurse practitioner
  • occupational health
  • oncology
  • pediatric
  • psychiatric
  • research
  • school nurse
  • transplant
  • trauma
  • travel/agency nurse
  • urology
  • women’s health

The videos listed below explore a few of the wide array of options available in the nursing career field.

Emergency Room Nurse

A Registered Nurse in a hospital Emergency Room talks about what is required of an ER nurse.

Basically, the typical day in the ER is anything but typical. People come in with various symptoms, a person just not feeling well to someone who is critical. There are very few calm days in the ER setting, which makes it an exciting place to work.

Most patients are seen on a first come-first serve basis depending on how sick they are. However, in some situations there is no time to assess patients if they come in from an ambulance with a broken limb or not breathing. Because emergency situations can progress quickly, an ER nurse must be able to think and respond fast.

Job responsibilities primarily involve hands-on duties such as doing blood work, hooking up IVs, dressing wounds, and dealing with broken bones. An ER nurse works alongside the doctor, which enables her to take care of the patient more efficiently. Because the ER doctor gives orders immediately, she can take care of the patient more quickly than can a floor nurse.

The stress level for an ER nurse is demanding. However, the nursing staff works as a team, which helps alleviate the stress of tending to a critical patient. Several nurses working with a critical patient will lean on each other for support.

There are several ways to become an ER nurse: 2-year associate degree or 4-year bachelor degree programs as well as a short track designed to get you into the workforce and enabling you to earn an RN license. Depending on the facility, TNCC (Trauma Nursing Core Curriculum) is needed to become a certified trauma nurse as well as a specialty nurse certification as an ER nurse.

The best part of being an ER nurse is how rewarding and gratifying it is when you can improve a person’s situation and make them feel better. The worst part is that there is not a lot of gratitude from patients. ER is where you will see the worst of people – personality and physical, death of all ages.

Nursing is not glamorous as portrayed on television. It is a big responsibility, as the ER nurse is often faced with life and death situations. You truly must love and be interested in nursing to succeed. Reach out to nurses who have been in the field a long time and get their real life experiences. Volunteer with local programs or clinics to determine if becoming an ER nurse is really for you.

Flight Nurse

There are many types of nurses, but they do not all work in hospitals and clinics. Some nurses can be found administering health care in the air. A chief flight nurse with an advance response team talks about what it means to be a flight nurse.

A flight nurse is a subspecialty of nursing that takes two years to be certified, which qualifies you to be a flight nurse on either a helicopter or airplane that takes patients from one facility to another.

A flight nurse primarily responds to accidents wherever that traumatic event might have occurred and normally transports the injured directly to a trauma center. They also do inter-facility transfers where they pick up injured or ill patients and bring them to tertiary care or higher-level care facilities.

To become a flight nurse, after graduating from nursing school, a person will have at least 3-5 years critical care experience, preferably in a larger institution with a higher acuity and larger volume of patients.

A combination of ICU experience, specializing in cardiac or medical ICU or a combination of both and ER experience is highly desirable. Both pediatric and adult experience certainly help. Pre-hospital experience, such as an EMT or paramedic is also a plus. These core experiences and certifications then qualify you to begin applying for a job as a flight nurse.

Flight nurses have traditionally held an ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing) or BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). The increase of acute care nurse practitioner programs is also producing nurses who are becoming flight nurses.

Further information can be obtained at, the website for the Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association (ASTNA). This organization is a national association that represents nurses who fly in airplanes or helicopters or do transports by ground or water ambulance. The ASTNA offers a nationally recognized trauma class called the Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course.

Two certifications are offered by ASTNA – the Certified Flight Nurse (CFRN) and the Certified Transport Nurse (CTRN). The CFRN and the CTRN teach transport nurses how to deal with patients with critical injuries, and the certifications recognize both air medical transport and ground critical care transport. A flight nurse can hold both certificates or hold just one.

Certified Nursing Assistant

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at a community college, with input from a Nursing Assistant and Nursing Assistant student, detail the duties, rewards, and requirements associated with the position.

Nursing Assistant is an entry-level position in the health care field. A Nursing Assistant primarily works in long-term care facilities. As she becomes a home health aide, she will also work in acute care and home health agencies. A Nursing Assistant works under the direction of the licensed nurse in these facilities and typically takes care of the personal needs of the residents they are caring for.

Nursing Assistants play an important part in the overall health care system. Because Nursing Assistants see their residents while bathing them, they are basically the eyes and ears of the nursing staff. They listen to the residents’ complaints and learn about their happy and sad times and then pass that information along to the nurses.

First duty of the day is to get patients up and help them with their daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and feeding. Although the duties of a Nursing Assistant may be the same every day, the situations are not always the same, which makes for interesting days.

Being a Nursing Assistant is a lot of hard work. However, because a Nursing Assistant derives a great deal of satisfaction in caring for people, it is rewarding work. If you are considering the Nursing Assistant field, you may want to go into a nursing home to observe and possibly shadow a Nursing Assistant to get a better understanding of what it is to be a Nursing Assistant.

A Nursing Assistant is expected to work as a team to provide loving care for someone. Most of the people a Nursing Assistant cares for are her elders and deserve respect and caring and loving attention because they need help for whatever reason.

It is important to treat the patient as an individual. The person a Nursing Assistant cares for has an identity, which is important in establishing a relationship. For instance, when the Nursing Assistant addresses the person by name it shows that she is not helping them just because it is a job.

Future Nursing Assistants can join the nursing program after they complete the Nursing Assistant program, which is a prerequisite in order to be accepted into nursing. The program prepares future Nursing Assistants with basic knowledge of communication, ethical behavior, and skills that they need to know for the nursing program.

Advanced Nurse Practitioner

An Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, also called a Nurse Practitioner (NP) with a specialty in Family Health discusses the typical day and educational requirements of an NP.

Patients that an NP sees over the course of a day or week include a wide spectrum of people from pediatric to adult to geriatric. Because an NP is a Registered Nurse (RN) with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, they are able to administer most routine and preventive care for a variety of medical conditions.

They are qualified to treat different medical conditions for a broad range of patients. These conditions include diabetes type two, thyroid disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, as well as wounds and burns. An NP also treats fractures and infections.

Routine duties involve such tasks as assessing the problem, diagnosing and treating a variety of medical ailments and diseases ranging from mild conditions such as an ear infection to more complex conditions. In addition to diagnosing and treating medical conditions, NPs teach individuals, families, and the community at large about preventive health care measures.

Since the position of NP requires an RN certification initially, normally a person seeking to become an NP will first earn a Bachelor’s degree in nursing at an undergraduate school of nursing and then obtain an RN license. Typically, after working as a nurse for two or more years, the RN can then enroll in an NP program to earn a Master’s in Science of Nursing degree. These programs vary in length from one to two years.

There are many specialty areas that an NP can work in. For instance, Family Health is a specialty area that focuses on comprehensive health care for people of all ages and genders as well as diseases and all parts of the body. The specialties include a wide variety of areas from geriatric to neo-natal.

People who choose the profession of NP love helping others and making a difference in their lives that will impact them in a positive way. The NP will also have a love for educating and teaching that can result in a life change for people.

The profession of NP has resulted in autonomy for the practice of nursing and provides more health care for individuals. It also enhances extended health care, which is predicted to increase in the future.

Different Types Of Nursing Careers

A board certified Family Practice doctor discusses the many types of nursing careers available and clears up the common misconception about the nursing profession. The common thinking of many people is that all nurses primarily do the same job. The specialty area, education level, or type of health care facility or department where the nurse works seems of no merit.

The image people have of the typical nurse is that she is an RN or LPN who draws blood and takes your temperature and blood pressure. She may also administer shots or treat you at your bedside and take care of your daily needs while you are in the hospital.

In reality, there are all types of nurses with varied educational backgrounds and training and different responsibilities. Some nurses, like the Nurse Practitioner, perform in a similar capacity to a medical doctor, and in some states she is legally able to work independent of doctor supervision.

People who hold the misconception that all nurses are RNs and LPNs that perform the exact same duties would be surprised to learn about the following nursing positions. These are only a few of the careers available in nursing.

  • Management nurse – A nurse who seeks a career in nursing management is a nurse who will run departments such as Cardiology or the Cardiac Rehab Department, to name a few. A nurse manager ensures that a nursing team is functional at all times.While in charge of overseeing the nursing staff, a nurse manager also oversees the nursing program and unit or facility she is in charge of. A nurse manager requires a Bachelor’s degree and licensure by the relevant state licensing board.
  • Nurse with Master’s degree in Nursing – A nurse who earns a Master’s degree in Nursing is considered an Advance Practice Nurse, which opens up limitless opportunities for her in the health care field. For instance, she can become a Nurse Practitioner who functions much like a physician, allowing her to diagnose and treat within certain parameters.Like a doctor, a Nurse Practitioner can administer physical exams, treat injuries, diagnose and treat common serious illnesses, manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and order x-rays and lab work.
  • Nursing Assistant – A Nursing Assistant is critical to the effective medical treatment of patients, as her duties deal with the daily needs of patients. A much less level of education is required.

What Do LPNs Do?

A Registered Nurse (RN) talks about the duties of an LPN, or LVN, which is a Licensed Vocational Nurse in some states like California and Texas. An LPN working in a hospital setting performs similar duties to those of an RN, except the LPN is performing these tasks under the delegation or supervision of a charge nurse or RN.

LPNs provide direct patient care on a daily basis, which includes monitoring patients and reporting the information to the RN. Of course, the LPN takes and records a patient’s vital signs and monitors the urine output. She also notates any reactions to medications and alerts the RN of this development.

An LPN is basically responsible for all the assessing, reporting, and recording and monitoring activities. She is tasked with monitoring all aspects of a patient’s hospital stay and keeps the RN informed of any changes in vital signs or changes in food or liquid intake, or anything unusual with the patient.

She is also expected to care for the daily needs of a patient, including basic wound care. An LPN in a hospital setting often is needed to help patients with tasks associated with daily living, such as bathing and washing their hair, brushing their teeth, dressing, and eating.

Depending on state law, an LPN can also administer medicine. Some states allow an LPN working in a hospital to give prescribed medications and begin administering intravenous fluids. Because administering medications is state regulated by the Board of Nursing, LPNs are limited in what medications they can administer as to whether it is oral medication or intravenous.

An LPN is also responsible for helping to maintain a comfortable, safe, and clean environment for the patient. She must also be ready to respond to any emergencies when necessary. Depending on the type of certification she holds, if certified, she will be expected to go along to assist in those emergencies.

Although LPNs are limited in a few areas by state regulations, it is important to remember that LPNs are qualified nurses who are supportive in many ways to the RN supervising her. LPNs are valued nurses regardless of the limitations imposed on them by the state.

They are without a doubt an integral part of the hospital setting. Sometimes the wisest and best nurse in a hospital will be the LPN who is closest to the patient and reports to an RN.

Posted in Careers in Nursing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .