If you are interested in a career in nursing, you may already know that there are so many different career options you can take. While so many of those looking to become nurses look at the potential salary they could get, or what their day-to-day activities will be like, it is a much more fruitful endeavor to consider your career in light of the qualifications needed as well as the various types of nursing jobs available. Because of this, we will look at different types of nurses according to their qualifications and responsibilities.
Registered nurses, RNs, are the most common type of nurse you are likely to encounter at a hospital. RNs are usually the first person patients get in touch with when they get to a hospital. RNs can be found in all hospitals and most private medical practices. They are responsible for:
Within this large group of registered nurses, there are those who decide to specialize. For example, a registered nurse can enroll in a neonatal nursing college if they are looking to work with infants and children. Even with their specializations, all registered nurses have a few things in common. For example, they must have passed the requisite exams that will give them their licenses to practice. These exams are usually given to students who have a nursing diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
Nurses in this category often work under the supervision of RNs. Even though LPNs can perform the same duties as the RNs they work under, they often have fewer medical responsibilities. This is because they work at the discretion of their RMNs and therefore can only do the duties assigned to them.
Even though LPNs might have fewer responsibilities, their role is very important. They offer immediate patient care which entails:
LPNs form a very important link between the patients and the higher-ups in a hospital. Because their role is being the glue that ensures the cohesion between the hospital and its patients, LPNs should not be taken advantage of.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
CNSs are highly trained nurses with deep specialization in certain areas. They are vigorously trained to ensure that they have an in-depth mastery in specific areas of the nursing profession. Because CNSs can specialize in different areas of the medical practice, their scope of work can vary widely, between individuals and from hospital to hospital. It is not uncommon to find CNSs deployed to:
- Intensive care units
- Operating rooms
- Emergency rooms and
- Other areas that require specialization like in cancer or diabetes wards
Because being a CNS is a very important job, the opportunities to become one are very hard to come by. The journey to becoming this type of nurse is also long as you need to, first of all, get a bachelor’s in nursing, and then a master’s or doctorate degree; all of this while undergoing years of intensive training. After getting the degree, you need to get certified in your area of specialization. For example, if you would like to become a neonatal nurse practitioner, then you need to get a degree in pediatrics. This is a simplified look at how to become a clinical nurse specialist because what you need might vary from country to country and from state to state.
Even though the road to becoming a CNS is very long and hard, the payoff is worth it. CNSs routinely earn a six-figure salary due to their specialization and ability to teach and mentor other nurses. Also, CNSs can help influence the policies of a hospital in addition to doing much more than registered nurses can.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A CNA helps RNs and LPNs with their day to day tasks and routines. They are also sometimes tasked with helping with the immediate needs of their patients, such as taking care of their hygiene, bringing them food, and reporting any changes in the patients to the nurse or doctor in charge. The role of a CNA can be thought of as the link between the patient and the professionals who will provide their overall healthcare management plans and options.
Although the roles of a CNA and LPN can look very similar, there are some key differences. CNAs cannot:
- Do some of the intensive duties normally done by LPNs
- Administer medication
- Suggest or alter treatment plans.
One needs a CNA degree, which can be earned at a community college, to become a CNA.
“In 2017, the median hourly wage for a Certified Nursing assistant was $13”
Even though the tasks of a CNA might seem simple, they are by no means trivial. CNAs are much more involved in the day-to-day lives of patients that they are usually the first to notice if something changes within patients. CNAs also play a huge role in ensuring patients’ medical compliance and monitoring patient’s medical outcomes.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Nurse practitioners, much like Clinical Nurse Specialists, specialize in a particular area of medicine. The difference between NPs and CNSs is that the mandate of NPs is very broad. Nurse practitioners can:
- Diagnose patients
- Suggest treatment plans
- Conduct independent medical research and
- Influence the operations of medical practices.
To become a nurse practitioner, you need a master’s degree and higher education in the field you would like to specialize in.
There are so many different types of nurses, with even smaller categories emerging depending on how you decide to classify different types of nurses. That said, the path to becoming a nurse will depend on what type of nurse you wish to become. Getting an associate or bachelor’s degree is the first step in becoming a nurse and should be where you start.