It takes a whole team of professionals to tend to the nation’s health care needs, and nurses are the linchpin that keep the health care system running. They provide the bulk of daily care, serve as liaisons between patients and physicians and, in some cases, even fill the role of doctors. There are many different types of nurses, however, and their titles indicate what training they have received, what they do and where they do it. This guide is a one-stop resource for readers who want to learn more about different nursing jobs, including their roles, education, earnings, and how in-demand they are in today’s market.
Step by step guide to becoming a nurse
What does a nurse do?
Nurses’ responsibilities vary by specialization or unit, but most share more similarities than differences. Nurses provide and monitor patient care, educate patients and family members about health conditions, provide medications and treatments, give emotional support and advice to patients and their family members, and more. They also work with healthy people by providing preventative health care and wellness information.
The profession of nursing has been further classified into many different categories. Some of these are:
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Neonatal Nurse
- Nurse Practitioners (NP)
What kind of skills are required?
The tasks nurses perform — and the settings in which they perform them — are at least partly driven by specialty, work experience and education. Although most nurses work in hospitals, some work for schools, private clinics, nursing homes, placement agencies, businesses, prisons, military bases or other employers. Nurses with associate and bachelor’s degrees often provide hands-on care, though the scope of this care varies by state and employer. Those with more experience and graduate degrees might supervise other nurses, teach nursing, become nurse practitioners or do research.
Many nurses spend long hours on their feet. Although nurses working in physicians’ offices, schools, corporate settings or other places with traditional hours may work regular shifts with set schedules, those working in nursing facilities and hospitals providing round-the-clock care often have to work long weekend and holiday shifts. It is not unusual for some nurses to work 10 to 12 hours a day, three to four days each week.
- Determine what kind of nurse you want to become
- Get an education (Associate, Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate)
- Get certified
- Get a job
- Continue learning and advancing in the field