Nurses are an asset to the healthcare sector. Their empathy, understanding of patient care, and dedication to their field make them an integral part of hospitals. In the US, there are approximately 3 million registered nurses. These professionals work in various settings, including private hospitals and retail clinics, and even render their services to the public health sector. However, the question arises, what makes nurses so competent at their job?
As a nurse, from the minute you join nursing school till you graduate, every class, lesson, and degree prepare you for your role. As a professional nurse, your choices will shape your career and ultimately make you adequate for your job. So what goes on in a nursing program? What skills do you pick up, and how do you find your place in the sector? Read on to find out more:
Types of Nursing Roles
There is immense diversity in nursing. You can choose the path you want to take to attain your degree. For instance, you can start your career by becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Alternatively, you can become a Registered Nurse (RN) and start your profession by providing direct care to patients instead of becoming an assistant to doctors. You can also opt for an RN to BSN degree, or if you are in a rush to provide specialized care, you may go for a BSN to a DNP degree. Therefore, know your choices before you sign up for any nursing degree. Here are some standard nursing credentials:
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
An LPN is a professional who assists doctors in recording, collecting, and compiling patient information. Along with updating the EHR, you will also administer primary care. This includes changing the patient’s dressing, giving them medication, and taking care of their hygiene.
Registered Nurse (RN)
As an RN, you will be responsible for coordinating patient care. This includes partaking in the treatment plan, educating them about their illness, and primary care.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (Aprn)
A nurse practitioner is a highly developed field in the nursing sector. As an APRN, you will be directly responsible for patients in helping them manage chronic diseases, diagnose illnesses, and educate them about their health. With an advanced degree in hand, you can freely practice your profession without a physician’s supervision.
Duration of These Programs
The duration of each nursing program depends on the route you take. Traditionally becoming an RN or LPN takes about four years of nursing school with an additional four years for a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN). If you go from a BSN to an MSN, another five years get added to your timeline.
However, becoming a nurse may push you to look towards acquiring a terminal degree such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), which will add two more years to your list. An alternative pathway for you to entertain is going from a BSN to a DNP, which may be anywhere between five to eight years. So, depending on how you wish to do your degree, how advanced you want your skills to become, and if you’re going to become a specialist will determine your duration.
A Brief Look at the Coursework
There is no denying that the academic journey you will embark on as a nurse is tedious. You will need to have a deep understanding of chemistry, psychology, anatomy, and physiology. Apart from theory classes, you will also need practical demonstrations with explanations on transporting patients, the process of transferring them to another nurse or administering medication.
Your coursework may also lead you through geriatric medicine, caring for older patients, and pediatrics, covering children to adolescents. However, your work is not quite finished yet. You still have to go through pharmacology, community health, ethics, and psychiatry.
Once you’ve read through all your course books, you will need to spend time in clinical studies. Depending on your program, you may spend up to 16 hours per week in clinics. You may need to submit assignments, publish research and appear for examinations before you can move on to the next stage of your career.
A Walk Through the Clinical Period
Nursing clinics start in the second semester of your sophomore year. LAs a nurse, you will have to go through simulation labs, work in a clinic and learn the ethics of assisting a patient. When you’re in the clinics, you need to bring your A-game. There are no safety nets on the job, and even if your work gets supervised, you can still make mistakes. Therefore, take the time to learn skills, provide the best care, and minimize your errors. For example, practice stitching on a medical mannequin before trying with patients.
Nursing is a noble pursuit, but before you can join this prestigious profession, there is still much you need to do. Becoming a nurse is a complex process. You need to decide what degree you want, the time you wish to commit, and sit through your entire coursework. However, as your coursework moves on, you will get integrated into clinical settings. You will assist doctors in caring for patients. But, the more your progress, the more you get to pave your path within training wheels. So prepare yourself for this career choice.