What Type of Nurse Should You Become?
All right, so you've decided you want to become a nurse. Now you need to decide exactly what type of nurse you want to become. There are many types of nursing careers, each with their own unique responsibilities and educational requirements. Below is a list of different types of nursing careers and a brief description of each.
A certified nurse has met the requirements for clinical or practical practice in a particular field; pursued education beyond basic nursing training; and passed a written examination on a national scale recognized by standards of nursing practice.
Public Health Nurse
Public health nursing consists of applying, promoting and defending the health of populations using the essentials from nursing, social, and public health sciences. Public health nursing is population-focused, community-oriented nursing practice. The purpose of public health nursing is to prevent disease and disability for all people through circumstances in which people can be healthy. Public health nurses connect with nations, states, communities, organizations, and groups, as well as individuals, in implementing health evaluation, policy development, and assurance activities. Public health nurses review the desires and the potency of the population, and to also plan interventions to assemble resources for action, and promote equal opportunity for health. Strong effectual organizational and political skills must compliment their nursing and public health capability.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered nurses (RNs) work to promote health, prevent disease, and help patients cope with illness. They are advocates and health educators for patients, families, and communities. When providing direct patient care, they observe, assess, and record symptoms, reactions, and progress; assist physicians during treatments and examinations; administer medications; and assist in convalescence and rehabilitation. RNs also develop and manage nursing care plans; instruct patients and their families in proper care; and help individuals and groups take steps to improve or maintain their health.
Licensed Practice Nurse (LPN)
Most LPNs provide basic bedside care. They take vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. They also treat bedsores, prepare and give injections and enemas, apply dressings, give alcohol rubs and massages, apply ice packs and hot water bottles, and monitor catheters. LPNs observe patients and report adverse reactions to medications or treatments. They collect samples for testing, perform routine laboratory tests, feed patients, and record food and fluid intake and output. They help patients with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene, keep them comfortable, and care for their emotional needs. In States where the law allows, they may administer prescribed medicines or start intravenous fluids. Some LPNs help deliver, care for, and feed infants. Experienced LPNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides.
Nursing Assistant (NA)
Nursing aides, also known as nursing assistants, geriatric aides, unlicensed assistive personnel, or hospital attendants, perform routine tasks under the supervision of nursing and medical staff. They answer patients' call bells, deliver messages, serve meals, make beds, and help patients eat, dress, and bathe. Aides also may provide skin care to patients; take temperatures, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure; and help patients get in and out of bed and walk. They also may escort patients to operating and examining rooms, keep patients' rooms neat, set up equipment, store and move supplies, or assist with some procedures. Aides observe patients' physical, mental, and emotional conditions and report any change to the nursing or medical staff.
At the advanced level, nurse practitioners provide basic primary healthcare. They diagnose and treat common acute illnesses and injuries. Nurse practitioners also can prescribe medications (but certification and licensing requirements vary by State. Other advanced practice nurses include clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse-midwives. Advanced practice nurses must meet higher educational and clinical practice requirements beyond the basic nursing education and licensing required of all RNs.
Certified Nurse Midwife
An advanced practice nurse who has completed particular education in nurse midwifery and also has received certification through the American College of Nurse Midwives. Nurse midwives provide primary care in the area of women's health including gynecologic, prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
A registered practice nurse anesthetist is one who has two to three years of formal education beyond a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and who has received certification from the Council of Certification of Nurse Anesthetists. Nurse Anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients in a diverse line of situations including hospital operating rooms, ambulatory surgical settings, and dentists' offices.
Home Health Nurses
Home health nurses provide periodic services to patients at home. After assessing patients' home environments, they care for and instruct patients and their families. Home health nurses care for a broad range of patients, such as those recovering from illnesses and accidents, cancer, and childbirth. They must be able to work independently, and may supervise home health aides.
Occupational Health Nurses
Occupational health or industrial nurses provide nursing care at worksites to employees, customers, and others with minor injuries and illnesses. They provide emergency care, prepare accident reports, and arrange for further care if necessary. They also offer health counseling, assist with health examinations and inoculations, and assess work environments to identify potential health or safety problems.
Head nurses or nurse supervisors direct nursing activities. They plan work schedules and assign duties to nurses and aides, provide or arrange for training, and visit patients to observe nurses and to ensure the proper delivery of care. They also may see that records are maintained and equipment and supplies are ordered.