Six General Nursing Career Options
Whether you graduate with an associate degree (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree (BSN) in nursing, you’re still a registered nurse. The following six career paths are available to all nurses holding a valid RN license – even if you’re brand new in the field. All six can provide you with a respectable salary
Many individuals with an RN apply for floor nurse positions in hospitals. Registered nurses in this setting may work standard eight-hour shifts. In other cases they may only work three, twelve-hour days per week, leaving the balance of the week for their own pursuits. Some nurses work weekends only. Most nurses can’t pick their own schedules since hospitals themselves determine how shifts are arranged.
Registered nurses can be assigned to almost any floor, or department in a hospital. As a hospital nurse, you may find yourself in the emergency room, on a pediatric floor, or even a geriatric unit. In striving for the best health and comfort of patients, most of the tasks you perform in a hospital are general in nature, and may include:
- Adjusting patients’ medications as needed.
- Creating and evaluating customized care plans as well as maintaining charts and medical histories.
- Maintaining inventory levels of supplies.
- Observing and recording patients’ behaviors, including changes in condition, physical activities and personal care routines.
- Providing triage care in medical emergencies.
- Preparing rooms, decontaminating equipment and instruments and prepping patients for doctor examinations.
- Serving as informed advocates for patients’ families, sometimes providing information on illnesses or diseases.
Outpatient care nurse
Registered nurses can also work in outpatient care facilities. Due to advances in healthcare, illnesses and injuries that used to require hospital stays can be taken care of in outpatient settings. As a result, an RN employed in an outpatient care clinic will assist in treating a multitude of conditions. Job duties often include some of the following:
- Assisting patients with the navigation of the healthcare system and/or insurance requirements.
- Evaluating patient outcomes.
- Health education to patients and families.
- Identifying and clarifying patient needs.
- Patient and family advocacy.
- Reporting on the progression of surgery or other procedure to family members.
If you want to work as an outpatient care nurse, but prefer to become skilled in working with one disease, illness or condition, you can seek out a specialization clinic. Podiatry or ophthalmology are two examples that fall into that category.
Private Duty Nurse
Private duty nurses are also known as home health nurses, home care nurses or even personal care nurses. This is one of the top fields registered nurses can enter. Private duty nurses care for patients who are at home as opposed to in hospitals. If a person requires 24/7 care, there may be three nurses who regularly assist that individual in a 24-hour period. Other patients may only need daytime care while their family is working.
Tasks performed by private duty nurses sometimes just focus on assisting individuals with activities of daily living, also known as ADLs. Other times total care is required. Assignments can be relatively short-term, such as working with someone recovering from a knee or hip replacement. On the other hand, if a person is only partially recovered from a stroke, the job may be longer, or even permanent. There is also respite care, which is very short term. In respite care, family members tend to the person most of the time but may decide to take a weekend off, or even go a week’s vacation. A private duty nurse manages the patient in the family’s absence, but the job concludes when the family returns.
Job duties for a private duty nurse are dependent upon the type of care being provided, but in most cases, they will include:
- Administering or adjusting medication as needed.
- Observation of the patients’ condition and subsequent reporting of it to the family and possibly the attending physician.
- Providing companionship to the patient.
Hospice care is a highly specialized area for a home care nurse. Hospice duty is a growing field for registered nurses. As difficult as this specialty can be, if patients can be home during their final days they will generally choose to do so.
Physician’s office nurse
In this employment setting, registered nurses work for medical doctors or even a team of medical doctors. Their primary role is treating individual patients who are well enough to make appointments.
In some offices you may be the only person there with the doctor. Other practices are large enough that other people will be on staff, such as a receptionist and medical assistant. Regardless, your duties change from day-to-day. Stress levels also vary depending upon how many appointments are scheduled. There are also times when appointments are urgent and must be squeezed in between those already on the books. Those kinds of days run long and frequently involve a nurse interacting with worried and frustrated people as well as crying children.
A sample of duties for a physician office nurse include:
- Ascertaining patient priority about when or how quickly someone needs to be seen.
- Assigning clinical staff specific responsibilities.
- Interacting with walk-in patients and assessing their condition.
- Maintaining medication sample closet.
- Managing clinical staff schedules.
- Ordering office medications and medical supplies.
- Problem-solving anything from patient issues to insurance concerns.
- Taking incoming calls from patients and providing them with medical information according to office policy.
If you are the only staff member in a private office, you may also have some administrative duties like answering the phone, pulling and replacing files and maintaining an atmosphere of calm hospitality in the waiting area.
Nursing care facility nurse
If you are someone who enjoys providing high levels of care, being a registered nurse in a skilled nursing facility is a career option. Although these care units are frequently associated with caring for the senior population, in some cases accidents occur to younger people that make it necessary for them to have managed care away from home. Because people are living longer, but not necessarily healthier, the demand for nurses in skilled care is growing.
As a registered nurse in this environment, duties are similar to those of hospital nurses. Responsibilities may involve:
- Administering medication.
- Creating treatment plans and providing case management.
- Interacting with family members, or reporting on a patient’s condition or status.
- Supervising staff, including licensed practical nurses and certified nurse assistants.
In some states, responsibilities like preparing IVs and administering respiratory care may require some additional education and certification. If you believe you would like to include these types of tasks as part your job, check with your state on certification requirements.
With advancements in technology and the growing preference of people gathering information online, one of the newest registered nursing positions is telenursing.
A telenurse is someone who interacts with patients, or clients, in a type of virtual environment. Communication is conducted over the phone, or through video applications such as Skype. Telenursing is especially convenient in rural settings where getting out to a clinic or hospital is difficult for people and the service needed is not urgent or the condition is not life-threatening.
Engaging a telenurse does not replace the need for in-person appointments. And a telenurse may well recommend for someone to see a doctor face-to-face. However, talking to a nurse in this setting may eliminate the need for someone to make a physical visit, thereby reducing co-payment and insurance costs. It may also prevent worry.
Telenurses may be required to perform some or all of the following:
- Checking in with patients electronically.
- Listening and asking appropriate questions about someone’s symptoms.
- Recognizing signs of more serious medical conditions and recommending a course of action.
- Responding to hotlines or advice lines.
- Using video technology to evaluate conditions like rashes or other skin ailments.
A telenurse must excel at listening and providing careful communication. Since a great deal of this position involves phone and video work, a registered nurse in this position must possess a clear voice, a great amount of confidence and the ability to work independently.
As helpful and knowledgeable as telenurses are, they are not permitted to diagnose conditions. The primary focus of their role is to gather information so that they can guide a patient to the next steps.
If any of these careers has sparked an interest in a nursing career, stop back for even more information on different careers in the nursing field.
In the meantime, you can get started right now with one of two kits from The Apprentice Doctor. There’s no need to wait until you are in an official nursing program, or even in college. Either kit enables you to practice skills you’ll need in any nursing career.
The Apprentice Doctor® Suturing Course and Kit is a resource that will teach you How to Suture Wounds in a short period of time. As a nurse, you’ll use this skill frequently, so why not get started now? The kit contains everything you need to get started. Take a look at the following video for a closer view of the contents of the kit.
The Apprentice Doctor® Phlebotomy Course and Kit is another handy resource at your fingertips. This program teaches you how to confidently perform phlebotomy procedures. Drawing blood is a skill you may need as a nurse. And you have to be very good at it if you are to minimize any discomfort that could be experienced by a patient. If you want to start your education being a great nurse, why not begin phlebotomy training right away? Take a quick look at the following video to see all the items contained in the kit.
Upcoming articles will include details on a number of different surgical nurse specialties. Future topics on nursing at The Apprentice Doctor (www.theapprenticedoctor.com) will include:
- Masters Degree in Nursing
- Nursing Surgical Specializations (various articles such as surgical nurse, nurse anesthetist, and plastic surgery nurse)
- Nurse Practitioner
We’ll also post video interviews with nurses who are on the other side of their education and are working in various fields. Insight from them can aid you in making important decisions about your nursing career.
Continue stopping by The Apprentice Doctor to remain up-to-date about medical education.