Nurses are vital members of a patient’s health care team, often having the most patient interaction. Nursing is an emotionally-fulfilling and rewarding career that blends science and technology with the art of caring and compassion. Individuals who excel in nursing may have many of the following interests and skills:
Fond of and amazed by biology
Desire to help and educate others
Interest in how diseases affect the body
Enjoyment of a fast paced, flexible environment
Ability to listen and empathize with others
Desire to use knowledge to make someone’s life better
Nursing careers have many advantages, including:
Positive image of nurses in the media
Strong career demand (jobs are plentiful)
Ability to find a job in any city, even internationally
Ability to specialize in a specific health condition, part of the body, group of people or workplace
On Your Own: Like physicians and pharmacists, nurses are required to say an oath (pledge) upon graduation. Named after Florence Nightingale, who is credited with laying the foundation for modern nursing, the pledge states:
“… I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to work closely with the health team, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”
What else do you think should be included in the nursing oath?
Internet Research: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in what type of work environment can a registered nurse expect to work?
Internet Research: What is the job outlook for registered nurses?
The Journey to Becoming a Nurse
After deciding to become a nurse, you need to determine which educational path to pursue:
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) — a two-year program at a community college or hospital
Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) — a four-year program at a university or college, or two years of pre-nursing classes at a community college followed by a two-year program at a hospital. The last two years of study provide clinical experience in hospital departments including pediatrics, psychiatry, maternity and surgery.
Nursing education programs include the following classes:
Internet Research: Research a local college/university/school with a medical program to become a registered nurse. Provide the following information:
Entrance requirements (GPA, PCAT score, essays)
Tuition costs (per credit hour or per semester)
Length of program/degree
Courses/classes required to graduate
Internet Research: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, what is the current median pay of a registered nurse?
The Responsibilities of a Nurse
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.
Registered nurses typically do the following:
Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute to existing plans
Observe patients and record observations
Consult with doctors and other health care professionals
Operate and monitor medical equipment
Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results
Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
Explain what to do at home after treatment
Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients with whom they work.
On Your Own: Using the list above, identify which responsibilities benefit the patient and which responsibilities benefit other members of the health care team.
Physiology: The branch of biology dealing with the functions and activities of living organisms and their parts, including all physical and chemical processes.
(“Physiology.” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.)
Microbiology: The branch of biology dealing with the structure, function, uses, and modes of existence of microscopic organisms.
(“Microbiology.” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.)
National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN): An examination that measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licensed, entry-level registered nurse.
(“NCLEX-RN Examination.” NCLEX-RN (n.d.): National Council of State Boards of Nursing. National Council of State Boards of Nursing. 2012. Web 13 Aug. 2014.)
Parenteral: Taken into the body or administered in a manner other than through the digestive tract, as by intravenous or intramuscular injection.
(“Parenteral.” TheFreeDictionary.com. N.P., n.d. Web 13 Aug. 2014.)
Continuing Education Units (CEUs): A point awarded to a professional person by a professional organization for having attended an educational program relevant to the goals of the organization. A value is established for the course, and that number of points is given. Many states require professionals in the various fields of medicine and nursing to obtain a specific number of CEUs annually for relicensure.
(“Continuing Education Unit.” TheFreeDictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web 13 Aug. 2014.)