How to become a nurse is one of the most asked questions by individuals who want to work in the healthcare sector. If you love helping others and have an interest in the medical field, nursing may be a good career option for you. If you’d like to know how to become a nurse, nursing careers and specialties, and salary for nurses in the US, better read this post.
What Does a Nurse Do?
Nurses provide preventive, curative or palliative care to improve, maintain and restore health. Nurses have an important collaborative role with the healthcare team. They work as a group to ensure care, comfort, privacy, hygiene, education, and safety of the patient.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Nurse
1. Identify patient’s care requirements by establishing rapport with patients and their family.
2. Provide psychological, emotional and spiritual support to patients and their loved ones.
3. Educate patient and family to understand condition and medications.
4. Document patient’s care by charting.
5. Collaborate with other healthcare professionals in the patient’s treatment plan.
6. Maintain privacy, confidentiality, and dignity of patients.
7. Carry out requisite treatments and medications
8. Provide necessary guidance on disease prevention, health maintenance, and health promotion
9. Maintain a hygienic and safe environment.
10. Prepare patients for examinations or surgery.
11. Assist doctors during examination or surgery.
12. Attend educational workshops to enhance professional and technical knowledge.
13. Assess, observe, monitor and record patient’s behavior and treatment.
14. Diagnose patient’s disease by analyzing symptoms and take required action for his/her recovery.
15. Operate medical equipment.
How to Become a Nurse
1. Get a high school diploma.
Admission to a nursing school requires a high school diploma. If you want to become a nurse you should pay attention to your skills, performance, and interest in courses like chemistry, physiology, and biology throughout high school. The knowledge from these subjects will be a good foundation to understand how the human body works.
2. Complete an accredited nursing education.
To become a nurse, you must complete any of the following: a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma program in nursing. You must also pass the nursing licensure exam for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) if you want to become a registered nurse (RN).
• Bachelor’s Degree
To become a nurse, you must take up Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a four-year course that is offered in a college or university. It requires students to complete a set of core nursing education and elective courses. Most employers hire nurses with a bachelor’s degree.
– Some nursing careers only open to BSN holders
– It teaches more clinical skills
– BSN holders offer better patient care according to studies
– BSN holders are qualified for many posted jobs
– A step closer to earning a master’s
– Most supervisory and administrative positions require a BSN
– Positioned for a wide range of specialized nursing jobs.
– Offers training that goes beyond fundamental practice
– Provides job security as a member of the healthcare team
– Takes four years to finish the course
– The tuition fee is expensive
• Associate’s Degree
An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or sometimes called the Associate Science in Nursing (ASN) is a well-known training for nurses because it qualifies them to sit for NCLEX-RN or National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. This course normally requires 2-3 years of full-time study.
– Entry level requirement to become a registered nurse and qualifies you to take NCLEX
– Allows you to practice your profession without committing to a 4-year program.
– You can save money since the duration of the program is shorter than a bachelor’s degree.
– A step closer to BSN
– Takes less time to finish
– Less competitive compared to more trained and educated candidates
– Does not include the necessary training to pursue a nursing specialty.
• Diploma Program
This is a hospital-based program providing intensive education and hands-on training to students. It is a two to three-year program. Students will receive a diploma and not a college degree.
– Students are more engaged in clinical work in the hospital setting
– Students will have a clinical rotation in different areas of the hospital while studying
– Can qualify you to sit for NCLEX
– Allows you to practice your profession without spending 4 years
– Graduate early
– Salary options will be limited
– Does not include the necessary training to pursue a nursing specialty
– Less competitive compared to more trained and educated candidates
3. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
After graduation from the accredited program, you will take your licensing exam. This test is the nationally required and recognized licensing exam for nurse graduates. You will have to pay the fee for the exam and may differ between states. To learn more about the NCLEX, click here.
Requirements are the following:
– U.S. social security number
– A recent passport size photograph
– Official Transcript of Records
4. Obtain employment as a registered nurse.
A newly licensed nurse should consider working in a specialty unit such as pediatrics, orthopedics, obstetrics, etc.
5. Pursue additional training and education.
Registered nurses are required to undergo continuing education, usually every two years. If you decide to specialize in a specific area of nursing, you should take into account earning professional certification. This binds your commitment to the field and proves your skill set to employers.
What Is a Registered Nurse?
A registered nurse is a person who has graduated from either Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) or Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) program and passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). He or she focuses on individuals, families, and communities to help them attain an optimal level of health and quality of life.
How Much is the Salary of a Nurse in the US?
Salaries for nurses vary depending on experience, level of training, and location. According to the BLS, the mean wage for registered nurses in the United States is $73,550 per year (based on May 2017 data). The top 10 states with the highest annual mean wage for nurses are the following:
1. California – $102,700
2. Hawaii – $96,990
3. District of Columbia – $90,110
4. Massachusetts – $89,330
5. Oregon – $88,770
6. Alaska – $87,510
7. Nevada – $84,980
8. New York – $83,450
9. New Jersey – $82,010
10. Connecticut – $80,200
Nursing Careers and Specialties
Specializing in a particular area can boost your career by increasing your professional growth, competency, credibility and earning potential. Choose a specialization based on your interests, personality traits, and qualities. The following are the various nursing career specialties:
1. Pediatric Nurse – A nurse who works exclusively with infants, children, and adolescents. They provide care to children while working with the family to address health concerns, problems and treatment options. They work in clinics and hospitals.
2. Geriatric Nurse – Nursing professionals are trained to work with the elderly to manage the challenges that these patients have.
3. Critical Care Nurse – A critical care nurse often works in the intensive care unit (ICU). They provide clinical care to critically sick individuals who are in the process of recovery.
4. Nurse Midwife – They usually work in birthing centers, hospitals, and other health departments to assist before, during and after delivery to guarantee the health of mother and child.
5. Clinical Nurse – A nurse who provides direct patient’s care in a clinical setting. They are responsible for assessing and monitoring the patient’s condition, administration of medications, updating patient’s medical records, providing emotional support and educating patients on disease management.
6. Dialysis Nurse – A nurse who specializes in working with individuals who are suffering from a kidney disease and in need of medical treatment that filters the wastes from the body when the kidneys can no longer function well.
7. Nurse Anesthetist – A nurse who works closely with physicians to administer and monitor the patient before, during and after anesthesia administration for medical procedure purposes.
8. Nurse Educator – They are experienced and have earned at least a master’s degree in nursing (although some universities may require a doctorate degree). They work in areas of nursing education like nursing schools or nursing colleges and perform the same duties as a school faculty.
9. Psychiatric Nurse – A nurse who cares for patients who need psychiatric treatment in conjunction with medical care. They are responsible for improving patient’s mental health.
10. Oncology Nurse – A nurse who is trained and knowledgeable in providing support and care for patients who are suffering from cancer. They work in the hospital, care centers and even at home. Their main responsibility is to help patients with chemotherapy procedures, patient’s education about treatment options and pain management.
11. Neonatal Nurse – A nurse who usually work in the neonatal unit and with other healthcare professionals to render a good quality of care for mothers and newborn babies. They provide specialized care for premature infants who have a variety of health issues. They also educate parents on how to care for a newborn baby.
12. Trauma Nurse – A nurse who works in the Emergency Room (ER) and other trauma facilities and considered the first line of defense of healthcare professionals to attend to critically ill or seriously injured individuals. The primary responsibility of a trauma nurse is to assess, stabilize and monitor the patient’s condition, and provide different forms of emergency medical procedures such as intubation, IV insertion, drug administration and many more.
13. Public Health Nurse – A nurse who works to improve the health of the community. They educate the public about the prevention of illnesses and the promotion of health
14. Nurse Researcher – A nurse who conduct scientific research into different aspects of health and work with various medical research organizations. They design, gather and implement scientific studies, analyze data and report the result to doctors, other nurses and medical researchers. They help in the development of new life saving medical practices or treatments.
Work Settings for Nurses
• Doctor’s office
• Home healthcare
• Nursing care
• Correctional facilities
Qualities of a Good Nurse
1. Great communication Skills
A great nurse has excellent communication skills, which includes both speaking and listening. He or she is able to follow directions and can easily communicate with patients and family members to understand their needs and explain treatments.
2. Emotional Resiliency
A great nurse should be stable emotionally. Nursing is a very stressful profession and most of the time, nurses may encounter many traumatic situations, sufferings, and deaths. An emotionally stable nurse can work without letting stress affect her/him in completing her assigned tasks
3. Empathetic attitude
A nurse should have empathy to better understand the needs of his or her patients and to be able to accurately predict and implement the actions needed to improve the health of patients.
A nurse is flexible with her work schedule and responsibilities. Nurses often have to work overtime, take turns late at night, or work on weekends and holidays.
5. Detail oriented
A good nurse understands that every action in the practice of medicine can have significant consequences. A nurse should pay attention to details and be careful not to skip steps or make mistakes.
6. Effective interpersonal skills
A nurse has an excellent ability to relate to other people and works well in a variety of situations in which he or she interacts with different people. They work well with other nurses, doctors, other staff members, patients, and the patient’s families or relatives.
7. Physical endurance
Nursing is a demanding job that requires physical and mental strength. A nurse should have a high energy level and healthy lifestyle to endure standing for long hours, lifting heavy objects or patients, and perform numerous stressful tasks on a daily basis.
8. Problem-solving abilities and a quick thinker
A nurse must think fast and solve problems as they arise. They should analyze the situation and come up with a solution. They must respond quickly to emergencies and use critical thinking to help in decision making that can impact patient outcomes.
9. Respect for people and rules.
Nurses should treat all the members of the healthcare team, patients and patient’s loved ones with dignity, respect, kindness, and compassion. Also, they should adhere to the rules and regulations of the health institution where they work.
A nurse is more than just an advocate for a patient’s health and well-being. He or she is also a counselor, an educator, and a friend. Above all, nursing is not just a profession but a passion. Now that you know how to become a nurse, you can decide whether you want to enter this field. Currently, there’s a high demand and lots of job opportunities for nurses in the United States.