American Medical Academy
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The Nursing Career

Nursing is a blend of science and technology with the art of caring and compassion. Nurses work closely with doctors and other health care professionals, and serve as the advocates for patients and families.

Current advances in technology are helping people live longer healthier lives these have made nursing profession even more promising; a nurses job includes:

  • Assessments: Nurses gather information about the patient's physical condition, emotional state, lifestyle, family, hopes, fears, etc.
  • Diagnoses: Nurses identify the patient's problems or needs, which often are emotional or spiritual, as well as physical.
  • Planning: Nurses find ways to address these problems and set specific goals for improvement. Whenever possible, nurses encourage patients to participate in planning their care.
  • Implementation: The nursing plan is put into effect. For example, nurses may administer medications and treatments, or teach patients how to care for themselves; e.g, showing them how exercise might improve their flexibility after surgery.
  • Evaluation: Nurses regularly review the results of the plan and make adjustments when necessary.

Nurses care for patients in the following ways:

  • Nurses help sick and injured people get better, and they help healthy people stay healthy.
  • Nurses perform physical examinations.
  • Nurses give medications and treatments ordered by doctors.
  • Nurses help bring babies into the world, and they take care of new moms before and after childbirth.
  • Nurses observe, assess, evaluate, and record patients' conditions and progress, and they communicate patient condition information to doctors and other members of the health care team.
  • Nurses are concerned with the emotional, social, and spiritual conditions of their patients.
  • Nurses teach and counsel patients, as well as family members, and explain what they can expect during the recovery process.
  • Nurses provide health care teaching and counseling in the community.
  • Nurses help patients and families determine the best mix of health and social services - hospice, home care, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and others.
  • Nurses design and complete quality assurance activities to ensure appropriate nursing care.
  • Nurses help terminally ill patients die with dignity, and they help family members deal with dying and death.

Nursing is a profession filled with challenges, rewards and continuous possibilities. When you partake on becoming a nursing professional, you are choosing to spend your life helping people and using learned scientific knowledge and skills with compassion and caring.

Nursing is the nation's largest health care profession, with the most promising growth in the labor market. Nurses are the largest single component of any hospital staff � they are the primary providers of hospital patient care, and they deliver most of the nation's nursing home care. They may also work in a variety of other settings, such as clinical and educational settings.

With the aging population growing steadily, there will be no shortage of jobs for nurses well into the future. Nursing shortages are apparent in most parts of the country, as the average age of nurses increase, more and more nurses will be retiring adding to the nursing shortages; as fewer trained nurses are in the workforce to replace them. This translates into more job opportunities with the potential of higher starting salaries.

There is a significant nursing shortage; statistics show that the need for nurses in years to come will become greater, due to:

  • Advances in health care are helping people live longer, there are more elderly people who need care.
  • The number of people who are sicker and in need of more skilled nurses is growing.
  • More nurses are needed outside of the hospital setting.
  • The current nursing workforce is aging. As more nurses retire (many are expected to retire over the next 10-15 years), more will be needed to replace them.

So, nurses today - particularly those with a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) - are almost guaranteed jobs right out of college and can be assured of a secure career well into the future.

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Nursing opportunities

Nurses today have more options than ever before about the type and place of work. About 50 percent of nurses work in hospitals and the rest work in other settings, which include:

  • Long-term-care centers (rehabilitation, nursing homes, hospice)
  • Community health clinics
  • Freestanding outpatient and surgery centers
  • Medical offices (eye doctors, dentists, obstetricians, surgeons, and others)
  • Home care (visiting nurses, private duty nurses)
  • Nursing schools (as professors)
  • Corporate health centers (occupational safety, consultants, educators)
  • Insurance and managed care companies
  • Other companies (pharmaceutical, medical technology, biotech, and others)
  • Research centers (research nursing)
  • Schools (including K-12, university clinics)
  • Military
  • Peace Corps and international service organizations
  • Hospital regulators (conducting surveys, inspections)

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Nursing School

Students interested in nursing should apply to state-approved and accredited schools of nursing.

Courses include classroom instruction in biology, chemistry, physics, the social sciences, nursing theory and practice, and the humanities. In addition, students get supervised clinical hands-on experience in hospitals and other health care settings.

Students need good study habits and excellent critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Confidence, determination, and an eagerness to learn will guide you in your pursuit to help and heal others as a nurse.

There are more than 1,500 nursing programs in the United States. Three types of training programs prepare you for different roles once you graduate:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) - a four-year program offered at colleges and universities around the country.
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) - a two-year program offered at many community and junior colleges. Some hospital schools of nursing and universities offer ADN degrees.
  • Hospital Diploma - a two- or three-year program based in hospital settings. Many diploma schools are affiliated with junior colleges where students take basic science and English requirements. There are no diploma programs in Maryland.

The BSN gives you the most opportunity for advancement and the most flexibility of the three types of degrees and is required for those interested in a master's degree in nursing.

A master's degree is required for those who want to practice in advanced specialty areas. Fields that require a master's degree include:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Graduates must pass a national licensing exam (NCLEX) to become an LVN or RN
  • The exam is offered through the Board of Nursing from the state in which you plan to practice.
  • Some states require continuing education or practice to maintain a nursing license.
  • Nurse midwife
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • RN first assistant in the operating room

Nurses interested in becoming a nurse researcher or a professor of nursing generally need to obtain doctoral degrees.

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Nursing License

  • Graduates must pass a national licensing exam (NCLEX) to become an LVN or RN
  • The exam is offered through the Board of Nursing from the state in which you plan to practice.
  • Some states require continuing education or practice to maintain a nursing license.

If you have chosen to become a nurse, you will discover a career filled with endless personal and professional rewards.