Nursing is a healthcare profession that focuses on the care of individuals and their families to help them recover from illness and maintain optimal health and quality of life. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of all people, including those who are ill, disabled and dying. In essence, nurses are life-savers. There are more than 3.1 million registered nurses in the United States, and they outnumber doctors 3:1 in the healthcare industry.
What is a nurse and what does a nurse do?
Nurses provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families. One of the most important roles of the nurse is to be a patient advocate – to protect the interests of patients when the patients themselves cannot because of illness or inadequate health knowledge.
Nurses hold many responsibilities, and those duties can vary depending on the type of nurse. Typically, a nurse performs the following duties (but not limited to):
- Assess patients’ conditions.
- Administer patients’ medicines and treatments.
- Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute information to existing plans.
- Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professional.
- Operate and monitor medical equipment.
- Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results.
- Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries.
- Assist in healthcare research.
What types of nursing occupations are there?
There are many types of nurses depending on where they work and the patients they work with. An example is a cardiovascular nurse who cares for patients with heart disease or heart conditions and people who have had heart surgery. The types of nurses also vary based on the level of education and role in the healthcare team. Examples of nurses include:
- Registered nurse (RN): provides critical healthcare to the public wherever it is needed.
- Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): provides primary and preventative healthcare to the public. APRNs treat and diagnose illnesses, advise the public on health issues, manage chronic disease, and engage in continuous education.
- Nurse Practitioner (NP): prescribes medication, diagnose, and treat minor illnesses and injuries.
- Nurse Midwife (CNM): provides gynecological and low-risk obstetrical care.
- Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): administers anesthetics during a surgical procedure.
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): supports the healthcare team and work under the supervision of an RN, APRN or MD. LPNs provides basic and routine care to ensure the wellbeing of patients.
- Nursing Assistant (CNA): helps patients with activities of daily living and other healthcare needs under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse.
Where do nurses work?
Nurses work in many different settings, such as, hospitals (state, local, and private), physicians’ offices, home healthcare, and outpatient care centers. They can also be found in nursing and residential care facilities, government, and even in schools and community centers. Some nurses travel throughout the United States or internationally to help care for patients in places where there are not enough healthcare workers.
Nurses are vital to the health of the nation
Nurses are the cornerstone of healthcare teams and can be found in every community – large and small – providing expert care from birth to the end of life. The nursing profession allows you to work closely with the community and patients, often being the frontline workers who observe patients and advocate for their rights and well-being. Due to the nursing shortage in the United States and world, this is a profession that is high in-demand and offers opportunities for personal and professional growth. Having a nursing workforce that is as diverse as the populations they serve, will improve the care for ALL patients and communities.
Explore the exciting profession of nursing more by checking out the resources. You may also want to gain hands-on experience by participating in a nursing pathway program. Find pathway programs by clicking below.