While specific job descriptions for different types of nurses may vary, nursing as a whole can be defined as a field of healthcare focused on the promotion of overall health and prevention of illness in both individuals and communities. Depending on the area of nursing that an individual works in, these goals may be achieved through a variety of means.
What Do Nurses Do?
Broadly stated, nurses work alongside physicians in everything from the assessment of patient conditions to the planning and implementation of treatment programs. Once again, the exact activities that any nurse engages in while working toward these objectives depends on the type of nurse in question, as well as the type of facility where he or she is employed.
Nurses find employment in a tremendously diverse range of settings, including: clinics, hospitals, private practices, private industry, schools, research facilities and assisted-living communities. While the majority of nurses do work for employers involved in direct patient care, an increasing number of nursing professionals are also finding employment in less-traditional, business-oriented settings.
How to Become a Nurse
The requirements to become a nurse depend upon the type of nursing position the person is interested in, but always involve the completion of a formal training program. The amount of time required to complete these programs runs the gamut from six-weeks (as is the case in some CNA certification courses) to four years or more.
Prerequisites for admission to training programs also vary considerably by program type. For entry-level nursing positions like CNAs and LPNs, prerequisites usually consist of just a high school diploma. For registered nurses and nurse practitioners, completion of previous coursework and, in some cases, previous work experience may also be required.
As is the case with all other aspects of nursing, the average nurse salary varies considerably according to the type of nurse, amount of experience, type of employer, etc. To illustrate just how wide the range of possible nursing salaries really is, consider that the profession’s lowest-level position, the CNA, typically earns somewhere around $24,000 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Contrast this with nursing’s higher-end professionals, Nurse Practitioners, who generally earn over $90,000 annually (www.salary.com), and you get an idea of the vast range in pay.
Outlook for Nursing Jobs
The nursing field as a whole is one of the fast-growing sectors in the U.S. job market. With a projected growth of 20% through 2020 (www.bls.gov), nurses of all levels can expect to find plentiful opportunities for employment throughout the country as the healthcare industry continues to expand to meet the needs of a population that is at the same time growing and becoming older.
Read More About Nursing Programs at These Great Nursing Resource Websites
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