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Setting the Patient Care Benchmark with Nursing Jobs

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Registered nurses (RNs)�regardless of specialty or work setting�treat patients and educate patients and the public about various medical conditions. They also provide advice and emotional support to patients' family members. RNs record patients' medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

Requirement for Entering Nursing Careers

The educational requirements for nursing jobs can be fulfilled by three major educational courses—a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), and a diploma.

BSN programs are offered by colleges and universities and take about four years to complete. On the other hand, ADN programs, offered by community and junior colleges, take about two to three years to complete.

The licensed graduates of any of the three types of educational programs qualify for entry-level nursing jobs. In fact, many RNs with an ADN or diploma later enter bachelor's programs to prepare for a broader scope of nursing practice. Some nursing jobs are open only to nurses with a bachelor's or master's degree. For example, a bachelor's degree is often necessary for administrative positions and is a prerequisite for admission to graduate nursing programs in research, consulting, teaching, and all four advanced-practice nursing specialties: clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and registered practical nurses.

The advantage of a BSN program is that individuals who complete a bachelor's degree receive more training in areas such as communication, leadership, and critical thinking, all of which are becoming more important as nursing care becomes more complex. Again, all four types of nursing jobs in advanced practice nursing specialties require at least a master's degree. These programs include about two years of full-time study and require a BSN degree for entry. Some programs require at least one to two years' clinical experience as an RN for admission. For nursing jobs requiring clinical experience, the supervised experience is provided in hospital departments such as pediatrics, psychiatry, maternity, and surgery. Students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination, known as the NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain a nursing license. In addition to all these indispensable requirements, nursing jobs require nurses to be caring, sympathetic, responsible, and detail-oriented, with an emotional stability able to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stresses.

Working Environments Required the Nursing Field

Nursing is not only about taking care of patients. RNs teach patients and patients' families how to manage illness or injury, explaining post-treatment home care needs (diet, nutrition, and exercise programs) and self-administration of medication and physical therapy.
Nurses may also work to promote general health by educating the public on warning signs and symptoms of disease. In addition, they might run general health screening or immunization clinics, blood drives, and public seminars on various conditions.

Nursing job can also require RNs to specialize in one or more areas of patient care. There are four ways to specialize: choosing a particular work setting or type of treatment, choosing to specialize in specific health conditions (i.e. diabetes), specializing by working with one or more organs or body system types (such as dermatology), working with a well-defined population (like geriatrics).

Some specialized work settings or types of treatment include: ambulatory care, critical care, emergency, trauma, transport, holistic nursing, home healthcare, medical-surgical, PeriAnesthesia, radiology, etc.

Particular diseases RNs may specialize in include: addictions, intellectual and developmental disabilities, diabetes management, genetics, HIV/AIDS, oncology, wounds, ostomy, and continence, etc.

Areas of specialization for particular organs or body systems include: cardiovascular, dermatology, gastroenterology, gynecology, nephrology, neuroscience, ophthalmic, orthopedic, otorhinolaryngology, respiratory, and urology. These nurses are usually employed in hospital specialty or critical care units, specialty clinics, and outpatient care facilities. RNs that specialize by population provide preventive and acute care.

Some nurses choose to become advanced practice nurses and work independently or in collaboration with physicians. They may focus on the provision of primary care services. These nursing jobs include clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and registered practical nurses. The common specialty areas for registered practical nurses are family practice, adult practice, women's health, pediatrics, acute care, and geriatrics.

Most RNs work in well-lighted, comfortable healthcare facilities, while home health and public health nurses travel to schools, patients' homes, community centers, and other sites. All nursing jobs require RNs to spend considerable time walking, bending, stretching, and standing, especially if patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities require twenty-four-hour care; consequently, nurses in these institutions may work nights, weekends, and holidays. Nursing has its hazards, especially in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and clinics, where nurses may be in close contact with individuals who have infectious diseases. They are also often brought into contact with toxic, harmful, or potentially hazardous compounds, solutions, and medications. Experts advise that RNs observe rigid, standardized guidelines to guard against disease and other dangers such as those posed by radiation, accidental needle sticks, chemicals used to sterilize instruments, and anesthetics.

Despite some disadvantages, nursing careers offer a vast potential for candidates who want to explore healthcare and at the same time serve patients directly.
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