Paths to Becoming a Nurse
There are several different ways that you can qualify for a nursing job. In addition, even though the largest proportion of nurses work in hospital settings, there are many different specialties and sub-fields of this healthcare field that you have to choose from once you earn your nursing credentials.
Nevertheless, one of the first ways that you can get a job nursing is by way of the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate. This certificate typically is earned in six months but can go up to a year in some states. An assistant nursing job will not have any decision-making responsibilities, but will be under the direct supervision of the Registered Nurse. Essentially, a CNA is the right-hand person of the Registered Nurse or even Licensed Practical Nurse. The assistant can take vital signs as well as provide basic patient care like dressing and helping bathe.
A second way that you can get your feet wet with a nursing job is by going through a Certified Medical Assistant course (CMA). Even though these jobs are not necessarily in the field of nursing, a medical assistant can perform many of the functions of a CNA with the added benefit of being able to perform some administration and office procedures. For example, a CMA can draw blood, take vital signs, and perform other patient-care duties under the direction of the doctor.
Working as an LPN or RN
Two of the major paths to getting a job nursing is the Licensed Practical Nurse as well as the Registered Nurse. These two options take considerably more time and the Registered Nurse option is the highest degree. As a Registered Nurse, you'll be in charge of hospital wings, directing other nurses and working on your own patient-care duties as required. Registered Nurses make up the largest sub-set of careers in the nursing field.
Specialties in the Nursing Field
Once you have earned your nursing degree and have been working as a Registered Nurse for some time, you may want to specialize in a type of nursing. This allows you to work in specialty roles that can only be fulfilled by those who have had education beyond what is required of the average Registered Nurse with a bachelor's degree.
One job nursing specialty is Critical Care. As is what it sounds like, the Critical Care nursing specialty qualifies you to work as an emergency room R.N., or even work in the intensive care units (ICUs) of hospitals. Critical Care jobs in nursing see patients who are acutely ill or need specialized attention. Emergency-room nurses as well as those working in the ICU will work under pressure many times, but also be keeping track of a smaller group of patients than a traditional nurse.
Pediatric nursing jobs as well as Maternal Health or Labor and Delivery nursing jobs are two other large specialties in this healthcare field. Qualifying for one of these nursing job opportunities requires you to take classes specific to child care and pediatrics as well as pregnancy and women's care. A pediatric nurse may work in a family physician's or pediatrician's office, in a specialty children's medical hospital, or even in a labor and delivery unit taking care of women and their children when born.
Yet another major opportunity if you want to get a job nursing in a specialty is psychiatric nursing. Psychiatric nurses have an in-demand skill set that is used by psychiatric hospitals, crisis centers, and community mental health centers. These nursing job opportunities require you to display compassion for the mentally ill, but also carry out essential mental health care duties. For example, a psychiatric nurse may lead a group therapy session or provide one-on-one care for a mentally ill patient.
All in all, there are many different specializations that you can strive for after you earn your credentials as a Registered Nurse and choose to specialize. Even though you may be able to get a job nursing in one of these specific, specialized departments having only earned a nursing assistant certificate or practical nursing degree, completing a bachelor's degree and specialized education as an R.N. better qualifies you to seek out these types of nursing jobs.