Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurses (RNs) are the largest group of health professionals in the U.S., with 2.6 million employed as of May 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). RNs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and home health care agencies.
Nurses must have an associate degree or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school to become licensed RNs in their state. They must also pass their state’s licensing exam and complete continuing education courses throughout their careers to maintain licensure and meet industry standards.
A nurse anesthetist (NA) is a registered nurse who has completed a post-master’s degree in nurse anesthesia and who has been certified by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). The role of a NA is to provide medical services under the direction of a physician, usually during surgery.
Nurses may take the following steps to become a nurse anesthetist:
- Earn your nursing degree or certificate at an accredited institution; this can take anywhere from four years to two decades, depending on whether you choose accelerated programs or traditional courses
- Complete additional training in advanced practice nursing that allows you to work autonomously in your field, such as becoming certified as an APRN, earning certification as a CRNA or completing all requirements for certification as both
Clinical nurse specialist
As a nurse specialist, you’ll work with patients and families to help them manage their health and care plans. You’ll be able to assist in all aspects of patient care, including diagnosing and treating conditions, recommending treatments and medications, making discharge plans for patients who are ready to leave the hospital or other healthcare facility (such as a skilled nursing home), ordering diagnostic tests, and more.
Nurse specialists typically work in hospitals or medical clinics where they may have responsibility for an entire unit or wing of the hospital—for example: cardiology clinic; neonatal intensive care unit (NICU); respiratory therapy department; oncology center; pediatrics unit; mental health services center—or they may focus on specific areas within that unit such as surgery recovery aftercare services (in post-surgical recovery).
The nurse specialist’s role often requires collaboration with other healthcare professionals such as physicians (doctors), pharmacists (also known as “drugstore clerks”), physician assistants/nurse practitioners/nurse midwives (“PA/NP”), social workers/”social workers,” psychologists/”psychologists,” therapists/”therapists” who provide physical therapy treatment sessions outside of hospital settings such as private practices – these are just some examples!
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced training. Nurse practitioners are educated to diagnose and treat illness just as physicians do, but they don’t have the same medical education that a physician does. Nurse practitioners work in many different settings, from hospitals to clinics, private practice or community health centers.
Although nurse practitioners can prescribe medication and perform some of the same procedures as doctors (such as suturing), they cannot legally perform surgery or prescribe controlled substances like morphine and opiates. But if your goal is to become a nurse practitioner you will be able to provide excellent care for your patients by working closely with doctors in other specialties such as internal medicine or family medicine.
Certified registered nurse anesthetist
A nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a registered nurse who has completed a master’s degree in nursing, anesthesia and anesthesia education. The CRNA provides preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care to patients before, during and after surgery. As a professional nurse with advanced education and training in anesthesia, the clinical practice of CRNAs includes all phases of perioperative care including evaluation of the patient’s condition; planning for general or regional anesthetic techniques; monitoring physiologic responses during surgical procedures; management of cardiopulmonary emergencies that may occur during surgery; maintenance of safety standards for administration of drugs which induce unconsciousness or analgesia; recognition when complications occur so that appropriate treatment can be initiated prior to discharge from recovery room into intensive care unit patient rooms where physicians are available 24 hours per day seven days per week with whom nurses can consult regarding difficult problems encountered by nurses on duty at any given time at local hospitals throughout nation.”
Licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN)
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are both licensed to practice nursing. While LPNs can work in hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies, LVNs are limited to working in long-term care settings such as hospitals or nursing homes.
Some states require you to obtain a special license for specialized areas of nursing practice such as surgery, anesthesiology and obstetrics; however, most states allow you to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).
Consider how you want to advance your career as a nurse.
As you consider how you want to advance your career as a nurse, think about which RN role suits you best. Then, ask yourself:
- What education and training do I need to reach my goal?
- How much will it cost?
- Where can I get help paying for it? (It may surprise you that there are many free or low-cost options out there.)
Next, make sure that you’re ready for the challenges of the job by thinking through these questions:
- What skills do I already have that will help me succeed in this career?
- Are there any courses or certifications I can take before entering into this field?
I think the takeaway here is that our nursing education system needs to work harder at preparing nurses for the future of their profession. We need more specialized training programs and in-service programs so our nurses can learn how to handle changing technology, as well as an influx of patients with chronic diseases. The field is changing fast, and we need all hands on deck to prepare!