Nursing is a field that is concerned with taking care of ill or injured persons; and providing preventive health care to well persons. Nurses work in various settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health departments, businesses, public schools and mental health centers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, duties performed by nurses include providing patient care, assessment of patients, developing nursing care plans and educating patients about their conditions.
The setting where a nurse works determines the specific tasks assigned to him or her. Nurses working in medical-surgical hospitals care for sick and injured patients. They perform tasks such as giving medications, taking vital signs, including temperatures, pulse and blood pressure. They also administer medications, including intravenous medicines. A nurse is required to document care given and the patient’s response in the medical record. Those working in hospitals may specialize in specific areas of care, such as pediatric nursing, where they work primarily with children, gerontology, a field that focuses on older adults and psychiatry.
Qualifications for working in the field include earning a degree or diploma and passing a state examination that leads to a license. The pathway to becoming a nurse can vary. A one-year program leading to a diploma helps one meet the qualifications to become an LPN. Those desiring to earn the RN credential can take one of three routes. There is the associate degree, which takes two years to complete at a junior college or community college. A diploma program is usually undertaken in a hospital that offers training. These programs are generally 2-3 years long. A bachelor’s degree is earned at a four-year college or university.
It is also possible to achieve education through an online nursing degree program. Earning an online nursing degree allows a candidate the convenience of working toward the credential at home, work or where ever he or she can access a computer. As with the other programs, the person who decides to study online will need to arrange for the clinical practicum. The clinical component is required in addition to courses such as English, biology, chemistry, nutrition, medical terminology, pharmacology and courses that focus specifically on the field.