Nursing Career Information
Your online source for a career in nursing

Nursing Career Overview

A career in nursing can be both rewarding and lucrative. Registered nurses make up the largest sector of the health care occupation, with over 2.4 million jobs. As a registered nurse, you will perform various duties that include treating patients, educating patients and the public about various medical conditions, and providing advice and emotional support to patients' family members. Nurses record patients' medical histories and symptoms, help to perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation. As an RN, you might be responsible for teaching patients and their families how to manage their diseases or injuries. This may include self-administration of medication, diet and exercise programs, and post treatment follow up care.

RNs can specialize in one or more patient care specialties. These are usually split into four categories-by work setting or type of treatment; disease, ailment, or condition; organ or body system type; or population. Regardless of which nursing specialty you select, if you choose nursing as a career you will most likely work for a physician's office, a hospital, a long term care facility, an outpatient rehabilitation center, or for a home health care agency. In all States and the District of Columbia, 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.

Nursing Career Advancement

Many RNs with an ADN or diploma later enter bachelor's in nursing programs to prepare for a broader scope of nursing practice. Often, they can find a staff nurse position and then take advantage of tuition reimbursement benefits to work toward a BSN by completing an RN-to-BSN program. Accelerated master's in nursing degree programs are available for those looking to advance or expand their nursing career. Accelerated BSN programs also are available for individuals who have a bachelor's or higher degree in another field and who are interested in moving into nursing. Accelerated BSN programs last 12 to 18 months and provide the fastest route to a BSN for individuals who already hold a degree. Those considering a career in nursing should carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling in a BSN program. This is because their advancement opportunities usually are better. In fact, some career paths are open only to nurses with a bachelor's or master's degree. A bachelor's degree in nursing is often necessary for administrative positions and is a prerequisite for admission to graduate nursing programs in research, consulting, and teaching.

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