Nursing Profession Facts

Nurses are the wheels that make our medical system work. They assist general practitioners, specialists and surgeons; administer IVs and dispense medication; and facilitate the overall well-being of their patients. If you're thinking of becoming a nurse, tune in to these nursing profession facts.

The nursing profession

There are three types of nurses: registered nurses, practical nurses and nursing aides. As a group they mainly work in hospitals and usually choose a specialty such as the emergency room, operating room, intensive care, geriatrics, pediatrics or one of the many other hospital departments or medical specialties.

What nurses do

Nurses' responsibilities vary, depending on where they work.

  • Hospital nurses generally work 12-hour shifts as part of a team. They prepare patients before an operation, see to their well-being when they come out of the anesthetic, follow their progress, give injections and medication, dress incisions and wounds, keep patient charts up to date or work in laboratories. In addition they supervise practical nurses and nurses aides.
  • Doctor's nurses usually keep office hours and can be part of a team or work alone, depending upon the size of the practice. A doctor's nurse prepares patients for examinations, assists during certain procedures, treats minor injuries and wounds, performs routine testing and enters current information into patient charts per the doctor's instruction.
  • Geriatric nurses work in nursing homes where they look after the elderly. Whether their patients have sustained an injury or suffer from a chronic disease, a nurse assists with treatment and follows up on their progress. In general, nurses oversee the standards of the nursing home's health conditions, see to it that treatments are given and advise on medication and nutritional needs.
  • Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have addition education and extensive experience. They are able to see patients on their own, order tests and interpret their results, perform specific procedures and prescribe pharmaceuticals.
  • Nurse midwives assist expectant mothers during labor and with the delivery of their baby. They are trained to recognize signs should the mother or the baby be in distress, at which time they will call on a physician. In addition, nurse midwives can perform pap smears, breast exams and give advice in family planning.
  • Home nurses provide private care to patients. They evaluate a patient's progress after an operation, injury or childbirth and advise family members how to care for the patient. Home nurses work independently or supervise nursing aides in residence.

Private nurses also work in large companies, schools and research facilities.

Skills required

In addition to having specialized training for certifications, nurses need a high level of energy, a strong stomach to cope with a variety of injuries, lots of patience, the ability to stay cool and calm in times of crisis, excellent organization and, in general, solid people skills.

Employment forecast

Registered nurses are among the top ten growing job fields. Even with 3.1 million nurses nationwide, job opportunities in the nursing sector are on the rise as experienced nurses retire, hospitals and nursing homes expand their treatment centers and newly graduated doctors join clinics. In addition, as the public becomes more health conscious, nurses are needed in preventive screening facilities.

Nurses' earnings

Ten percent of the highest paid registered nurses earn around $92,000 per year. Ten percent of the lowest paid nurses earn around $43,000 per year. The average salary of a registered nurse is between $51,000 and $76,000 per year, depending upon their specialty, experience and location.

While certain aspects of nursing profession facts might look attractive, there are less alluring features too in this demanding profession. For most people, nursing is not a career choice but a calling.

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