Nursing FAQs

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If you are compassionate, like working with people, and enjoy being in fast-paced, challenging situations, a career in nursing may be right for you.  Demand for nurses is extremely high all over the U.S., and it is possible to earn some nursing degrees and entry-level certifications in two years or less.  Best of all, with massive growth projected for the healthcare industry over the next two decades, job security for nursing professionals is at an all-time high.

Frequently-Asked Nursing Questions

Listed below are some frequently-asked questions about the nursing profession. Click on the one you’d like to see answered, or read on to see answers to all of them.

What Do Nurses Do?

Nurses hold a great deal of responsibility.  In hospital settings, for instance, they usually care for four to eight patients during a shift, and are responsible for ensuring all aspects of their comfort and safety.

Administer and Monitor Medications

Nurses are intimately connected to medications,  and are expected to be as familiar with their patients’ medications and treatments as the doctor and pharmacist is, because they are the ones who administer them.  In addition to giving patients their medication, they also monitor them for effectiveness and side effects.

Foster Communication with Patients

Nurses have different responsibilities depending upon the setting they work in, but their primary focus is always on the patient.  Whether in a doctor’s office or hospital, a nurse’s focus is on ensuring that each patient receives the appropriate treatment and fully understands his or her condition.  It is the nurse’s responsibility to act as an interpreter for the doctor’s orders, and to facilitate communication between the primary care physician and the patient.

Act as Patient Advocates

It is also important that the nurse be an advocate for the patient.  When the patient is feeling discomfort or any other change in condition, it is the nurse’s responsibility to communicate this to the physician  on his or her behalf.  In life and death situations, the nurse is responsible for performing lifesaving procedures while waiting for a doctor to arrive.  Once the doctor is present, the nurse still administers medications and helps the doctor save the patient’s life.

What are the Different Types of Nurses?

Types of Nurses

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, you can choose any number of career paths.  If you choose to pursue a master’s degree in nursing, you can become a nurse practitioner, a nurse anesthetist, or a nurse midwife.  These are advance practice specialties that come with more responsibilities and a higher rate of pay.  It usually takes quite a bit of time to get to this level, though.

Within nursing, you can choose a specialty.  For instance, nurses who work in hospitals can become certified in medical-surgical nursing, cardiac nursing, or geriatrics, to name a few.

Nurses work in a wide variety of settings, too.  You could work in a doctor’s office, in the employee health department of a corporation, or in a school.  The number of possibilities for nurses is almost limitless because nursing skills are in demand everywhere.

How Much Do Nurses Make?

A nurse’s salary depends on a number of factors.  The part of the country where you live impacts how much you make as does your level of education, certification, and chosen specialty.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing professionals as a whole can expect to make on average $33 per hour (that works out to a mean annual salary of $69,000).  However, as stated, the exact salary paid to any one individual will vary depending on where the person lives and the type of nursing degree or certification he or she chooses to pursue.

How Do I Become a Nurse?

You can become a nurse through enrolling in one of the many different types of nursing programs.  For example, if you want to work as a licensed practical nurse, or LPN, you take a course that typically spans 18 months.  However, this position holds fewer responsibilities and job opportunities than do advanced nursing degrees.

To become a registered nurse, on the other hand, you could get an associate’s degree in nursing within 18 months.  Some of these programs take two years, and the only real restriction in this case is that you wouldn’t be eligible to work in supervisory positions.

Most registered nurses have a four-year degree from a nursing school or university, however.  Like any bachelor’s degree program, going down this path can take four years or more.  If you want to get into advanced practice nursing, you will need to study an additional two years to get your master’s degree.  This allows you to become a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse?

The length of time required to become a nurse varies according to your ambitions.  If you want to become a registered nurse and are not interested in a supervisory role, you could sit for your boards within two years.  It takes even less time to become an LPN – usually around 18 months.

For more advanced nursing, the standard length of time is four years, but advanced practice nurses can spend up to six years in nursing school or more.  Your length of schooling is wholly dependent on where you would like your career to go in the future, but it is flexible enough to allow you to practice within two years.

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What is the Job Outlook for Nurses?

The job outlook for nurses is extremely bright.  Nursing is projected to be one the fastest-growing careers in the labor force over the next ten years thanks to the expansion of the healthcare industry.  For this reason, if you are looking for job stability, nursing is a great choice.

That said, it is true that newly graduated nurses may find it difficult to land their first job in some parts of the country.  This is due to lingering economic recession in certain states and the fact that many older nurses are reluctant to retire from their jobs.  Experts predict that the job market will eventually pick-up, however, and new nurses will find a wealth of opportunities before them.  The nursing job outlook remains bright despite this minor bump, and it will continue to provide jobs for those who are capable of meeting its demands.