About the Different Fields in Nursing

Considerations

All nursing programs require a good foundation in science courses. Enter the field of nursing by completing the recommended education requirements for the career path that you have chosen and passing the nursing licensing examination. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing oversees the administration of the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses for the United States and its dependencies. Successful candidates become Registered Nurses, Practical or Vocational Nurses, or Advanced Practice Nurses. Many nurses begin as LPNs, and then progress to an advanced license. Doctoral and postdoctoral programs provide additional educational and career opportunities for nurses.

Function

Nurses assist physicians and medical staff with patient treatments, monitoring progress and comforting the patients and their loved ones. Licensed Practical Nurses work under the supervision of Registered Nurses. Licensed nurses have varied career options. Depending on education and experience, a licensed nurse may work as a nurse-midwife, staff nurse, geriatric nurse, nurse anesthesiologist, nurse practitioner or nurse educator, for example. Specializations include military nursing, travel nursing, oncology, neurology, emergency room care and intravenous therapy.

Time Frame

Some junior colleges and hospitals offer courses that lead to a nursing diploma after two or three years. Diploma holders can work in patient settings while they continue the education required for a nursing license. Many U.S. higher education institutions offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, required for a first license and for admission to an accredited master's degree program. A few institutions offer accelerated nursing education programs for undergraduate and graduate degree holders who want to transition into nursing from other fields.

Benefits

Rewarding and challenging work awaits those who choose this profession. As career options expand, nurses have more job flexibility than ever before. Most healthcare providers provide great healthcare and retirement benefits, in order to attract qualified nurses. Many experienced nurses now receive very attractive sign-on bonuses, especially in areas of acute staff shortages. Travel, per diems and paid accommodations are just a few of the rewards that travel nurses and military nurses enjoy.

Significance

The current shortage of nurses will increase as the world's population ages and medical advancements allow people to live longer. As many nurses retire, competition for qualified nurses is fierce as hospitals, health care and research facilities search worldwide to fill positions in this vital field. Nursing offers many opportunities for career advancement through education, on-the-job training and additional licensing. Nursing careers offer a wide variety of opportunities in health care settings. Today's nurses can choose work settings that range from corporations to government as well as traditional placements such as hospitals and senior facilities. Specialization in the field of nursing presents career options, including travel to exotic locales and self-employment. Personnel shortages coupled with an aging population mean nurses are and will remain in great demand.