Nursing is a rewarding career for anyone who is passionate about patient care and committed to improving the healthcare system. There are many types of nurses depending on which area a nursing student decides to specialize in, and some require additional education. Some areas of nursing require additional certification and licensing to obtain the proper credentials for practice. With further education and advanced credentials, a nurse can move quickly through the ranks and achieve a higher degree of success and autonomy. Nursing professionals with further education can move on to nursing supervisory positions or open their own practices.
Below we have detailed many of the different areas of nursing, roles and responsibilities:
Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
A certified nursing assistant is one of the few nursing jobs that doesn’t need a college degree. The role requires monitoring vital signs, personal care of patients such as bathing and dressing and assisting patients with other basic care such as turning or repositioning if they are bedridden.
Licensed practical nurse (LPN)
LPNs are responsible for changing bandages, monitoring vitals such as blood pressure, collecting blood and urine samples and acting as an intermediary between the patient and the rest of the medical staff.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurses are responsible for assessing patients and reporting to the health team, administering medications and treatments, assisting with testing and providing emotional support to patients. RNs are also able to offer patients and their family education on any lifestyle changes or other treatments that will need to be monitored once the patient is discharged. RNs, like all nurses, need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before they can practice, as well as other requirements for licensing issued by the state they work in.
Surgical assistant registered nurse or registered nurse first assistant (RNFA)
A surgical assistant RN is responsible for assisting patients before and after surgery and assists the surgeon during the procedure. They can help with preparing the skin for surgery, exposing the wound and suturing. RNFAs need to go through the necessary schooling to become nurses, and then move on to earn their master’s to work in the operating room.
Homecare registered nurse
Home health nurses monitor equipment, change dressings, administer medication and monitor conditions inside a patient’s home. They need to be an accredited nurse and have an associates degree or a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.
Emergency room registered nurse
Emergency room nurses are responsible for triaging patients as they arrive and prioritizing the order of their treatment. These nurses will also conduct initial exams, take vitals, record patient histories and monitor the patient’s condition. Emergency room nurses also report to the rest of the medical team. ER nurses are required to have a degree in nursing and some hospitals require ER nurses to have a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Labor and delivery nurse
These nurses help mothers through the labor and delivery process, in addition to performing the standard cognitive tests such as hearing and eyesight on the newborn babies. Labor and delivery nurses can also help new parents in areas such as breastfeeding, care plans and other post-delivery areas.
A career as a labor and delivery nurse can be possible with an accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing from an accredited school such as the University of Indianapolis. Their online curriculum can provide a flexible schedule for students looking to enter nursing as a second career. The accelerated program can be completed in as little as 15 months.
Clinical nurse supervisor
Clinical nurse supervisors are responsible for scheduling hours for nursing staff, assigning patients and evaluating the staff on their performance. They require several years of experience as an RN and a bachelor’s degree in nursing. As with all nurses, they require licensing according to state requirements.
Nurse case manager
Nurse case managers are leaders in their departments and work with patients, staff and other stakeholders such as insurance providers to create the most cost-effective treatment plan. These nursing professionals also monitor the patient’s progress and offer alternatives if they determine that the treatment plans are not as effective as they could be. Nurse case managers must have a bachelor’s degree to start and then further their education with a master’s in health administration and health management courses.
Nurse practitioners are responsible for examining patients, diagnosing issues, ordering or administering tests and analyzing results to determine a diagnosis. Nurse practitioners can open their own practices and provide a lot of the same patient care as a doctor, so they require an advanced education such as a doctoral program or a master’s. With the latest in technological advancements, nurse practitioners have devices and treatments at their fingertips that help provide superior patient care.
Critical care registered nurse
Critical care nurses provide complex care to patients with chronic illnesses, other serious illnesses and injuries. These nurses need a bachelor’s and sometimes the organization they work for requires them to also have a master’s and additional courses specific to the area of critical care.
Oncology registered nurse
Oncology registered nurses are responsible for patients undergoing cancer treatments or at risk of developing cancer. They administer medications, monitor the patient’s condition and provide any information needed by the patient or their family. These nurses require an associates degree or bachelor’s degree and must pass the NCLEX that all nurses need to become licensed.
Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)
These nurses are responsible for diagnosing patients, managing treatments, prescribing medications and ordering tests. Advanced practice registered nurses have more autonomy than RNs and therefore require more education, such as a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
Clinical nurse specialist
Clinical nurse specialists develop patient care plans by collaborating with social workers, medical team members and pharmacists. Clinical nurse specialists need a graduate degree as well as a BSN.
As with most professional careers, the more education and certification an individual has, the higher they will reach in their vocation. Nursing is a dynamic career that offers many opportunities and specialties. With advanced degrees, special certification and licensing, nurses have the opportunity for more autonomy, higher pay and more fulfilling career options.