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Finding your Place: What Are the Types of Nursing Positions and Specialities Available?
By: American Nurses Association

A career in nursing offers many different opportunities. The wide variety of positions and specialties available to you mean you can shape your progress however you want. You can work on progression up the hospital hierarchy, aiming for roles like Nurse Practitioner, or concentrate your work on a nursing specialty you’re passionate about, such as Oncology.

Whether you’re already a nurse and are looking to redirect your career, or are just starting out and want to plan your progression, it’s good to get a handle on what each of these different types of nursing positions entail. To get your started, we’ve pulled together key information about common nursing positions to help you decide what’s right for you.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Certified Nursing Assistants are also known as Nursing Assistants, Patient Care Assistants (PCAs), Patient Care Technician (PCT), or Nurse’s Aids. The focus of a CNA is on day-to-day patient care in a medical or long-term care facility. Their duties are carried out under the supervision of a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). Responsibilities of a CNA often include:

  • Bathing, feeding, and caring for patients
  • Turning and repositioning patients
  • Dressing wounds
  • Preparing rooms and gathering supplies for RNs and physicians
  • Assisting with medical procedures

Many people pursue a CNA position while training for the role of LPN or RN. The position lets you get used to the operating procedures of a hospital and other medical facilities while giving you experience with patients and procedures. If you are just getting started in your nursing career, consider working as a CNA before or during your study to build up your practical expertise and bedside manner.

Qualifications: State-certified 6 to 12-week CNA certificate program

Median average salary: $28,530*

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), also known in some states as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), takes care of basic duties in institutions such as hospitals, care homes, and long-term care facilities. LPNs work under the supervision of RNs and physicians to provide excellent levels of care for patients. Responsibilities commonly include:

  • Monitoring and measuring patient vital signs
  • Giving and monitoring medication
  • Helping patients eat, dress, and bathe
  • Updating doctors and nurses on patient statuses
  • Maintaining patient records

Working as an LPN lets you get involved in the healthcare profession without the rigorous training required of RNs and physicians. In this role, you’ll be working very closely with your patients, not only contributing to their medical care but helping to improve their day-to-day comfort.

To find out more about being a Licensed Practical Nurse, visit our LPN career page.

Qualifications: National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)

Average median salary: $46,240*

Registered Nurse (RN)

The overarching theme of what Registered Nurses (RNs) do is patient care. Whether they work in hospitals, rehab facilities, care homes, outpatient centres, or other healthcare settings, this central element will underpin the responsibilities of the role. RNs support physicians in providing care and treatment to patients. Key responsibilities often include:

  • Observing patients and recording information
  • Collecting patient histories
  • Interpreting patient information and medical data
  • Conducting research to improve patient outcomes
  • Consulting with supervisors and physicians to develop patient treatment plans
  • Supervising CNAs, LPNs, and other healthcare professionals to deliver care plans
  • Performing exams and diagnostic tests
  • Educating patients about treatment plans

Being an RN gives you more responsibility for planning your patients’ care. You have more opportunity to impact the treatment patients will receive and will be more involved in diagnostics working alongside a physician.

If you want to find out more about Registered Nurse careers, you can take a look at our career page.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Average median salary: $73,550*

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

APRNs are nurses who have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Post-Master’s Certificate, or practice-focused Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree (DNP). Through their additional experience and qualifications, APRNs are able to complete a higher level of tasks and handle cases with greater independence than regular RNs. APRNs can fall into one of four specialist roles:

  • Nurse Practitioners (NP): NPs take on additional responsibilities for administering patient care. They can prescribe medication, examine patients, and diagnose conditions. In 20 states, NPs can conduct this work independent of physicians. In others, they still need to obtain permission for certain things.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS): CNSs are heavily involved in the planning and optimizing of practices when it comes to patient care. They concentrate much of their time on educating patients and families on how to manage conditions, researching best practices, and analyzing patient data and outcomes to improve processes.
  • Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs): CNMs undertake similar roles to OB/GYNs. They provide healthcare to women, including family planning, gynecological care, and prenatal services. They also help women deliver babies safely and naturally. In these cases, CNMs can work independently of physicians to assist with births. If there are complications, or the birth is a c-section, a physician is still needed.
  • Certified Nurse Anesthetists: A Certified Nurse Anesthetist plays a big part in patient pain management, alongside overseeing recovery. In locations across the US, particularly those away from large hospital complexes, Certified Nurse Anesthetists are often the main providers of anesthesia for those undergoing surgery and in recovery.

Working towards an APRN position allows you to take more responsibility in your role and opens up greater earning potential. It allows you more independence in your work and more control over how you operate.

For more in-depth information about how to pursue the APRN positions in your career, visit the APRN page for guidance.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

MSN or higher degree

Average median salary: $113,930*

Nurse Educator

A Nurse Educator helps to educate the next generation of nurses. In this role you would work in hospitals as well as colleges and other educational settings. Key duties include:

  • Planning and delivering a curriculum to meet course aims
  • Supporting nursing students throughout their study
  • Overseeing lab and clinical work of students
  • Delivering lectures on a wide variety of topics

Nurse Educator positions are perfect for those who have developed extensive nursing skills throughout their career and education. In this role, you’ll be able to guarantee quality care for patients for many years to come, passing on important values and considerations to a new generation of student nurses.

If you want more information about the steps you need to take to become a Nurse Educator, we’ve put together more detailed information together for you on our career page.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

MSN, PhD, or DNP

Average median salary: $78,470* (based on the salary of Post-Secondary Educators)

Medical-Surgical Nurse

When it comes to types of nurse, it’s not just their position in hospital hierarchy that can set different roles apart. As a nurse, you’ll find lots of roles open to you that allow you to specialize by subject or area of care. One example of this is med-surgical nurses. Medical-surgical nursing is the biggest nursing specialty in the US. Medical-Surgical Nurses primarily care for hospitalized patients and are responsible for coordinating care for a wide variety of medical conditions. In their role, Medical-Surgical Nurses also assist patients recovering from surgery. They are fantastic multi-taskers.

Key responsibilities of the role include:

  • Effective and efficient provision of quality patient care
  • Co-ordinating patient care plans
  • Demonstrating a compassionate approach to patients
  • Developing a strong understanding of a wide variety of medical and surgical issues

In this role you will be supporting around 5 to 7 patients at any one time, so you have plenty of opportunity to help a range of patient and develop a speciality.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

Average median salary: $71,730 (Registered Nurse)

ER Nurse

An ER Nurse is an RN, responsible for patient care in the Emergency Room. This role is varied, fast-paced, and allows nurses to treat a huge range of ailments for people of all ages and backgrounds. The role requires quick thinking and fantastic teamwork skills under pressure. Key responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring health conditions and vital signs
  • Administering medicines
  • Using medical equipment
  • Performing minor medical operations
  • Cleaning and dressing wounds
  • Triaging patients and treating symptoms in order of life-threatening priority

ER nursing is a great opportunity for those who thrive in fast-paced environments. No two days in ER nursing will ever be the same, so the job is full of adrenaline rushes and opportunities to learn.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

Average median salary: $71,730 (Registered Nurse)

Oncology Nurse

Oncology Nurses specialize in treating and caring for patients who have been diagnosed or are suspected of having any form of cancer. Oncology Nurses work in a range of different settings including hospitals, cancer centres, clinics, physician offices, and hospices. Oncology Nurses are RNs with specialist responsibilities including:

  • Educating patients and their families about disease
  • Screening patients referred by physicians
  • Monitoring patient health throughout treatment
  • Developing in-depth knowledge of the expected side effects of cancer treatment
  • Co-ordinating patient care
  • Administration of cancer treatments

Oncology Nursing can be challenging as you’ll be working with people through trying times. With the continuing advancements of cancer treatments, you’ll also find yourself part of some of the highest points in patients’ lives. Oncology nursing allows you to make a real and significant impact on your patients and their families.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

Average median salary: $71,730

The types of nurses discussed above should provide some insight into opportunities offered by nursing and where you could move onto if you are already in the sector. There are many other positions and specialties open to you within a career in nursing. If you are passionate about providing care in a specific area, or want to influence policy in a particular sphere, there is ample opportunity for you to do so as you accrue experience and expertise.

For further information about opportunities in nursing sign up for our Nurse Focus newsletter, with up to date advice and information from American Nurses Association.

SIGN UP NOW

Categories: Nurse Career Path

Tags: Career Advice

Finding your Place: What Are the Types of Nursing Positions and Specialities Available?
By: American Nurses Association

A career in nursing offers many different opportunities. The wide variety of positions and specialties available to you mean you can shape your progress however you want. You can work on progression up the hospital hierarchy, aiming for roles like Nurse Practitioner, or concentrate your work on a nursing specialty you’re passionate about, such as Oncology.

Whether you’re already a nurse and are looking to redirect your career, or are just starting out and want to plan your progression, it’s good to get a handle on what each of these different types of nursing positions entail. To get your started, we’ve pulled together key information about common nursing positions to help you decide what’s right for you.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Certified Nursing Assistants are also known as Nursing Assistants, Patient Care Assistants (PCAs), Patient Care Technician (PCT), or Nurse’s Aids. The focus of a CNA is on day-to-day patient care in a medical or long-term care facility. Their duties are carried out under the supervision of a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). Responsibilities of a CNA often include:

  • Bathing, feeding, and caring for patients
  • Turning and repositioning patients
  • Dressing wounds
  • Preparing rooms and gathering supplies for RNs and physicians
  • Assisting with medical procedures

Many people pursue a CNA position while training for the role of LPN or RN. The position lets you get used to the operating procedures of a hospital and other medical facilities while giving you experience with patients and procedures. If you are just getting started in your nursing career, consider working as a CNA before or during your study to build up your practical expertise and bedside manner.

Qualifications: State-certified 6 to 12-week CNA certificate program

Median average salary: $28,530*

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), also known in some states as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), takes care of basic duties in institutions such as hospitals, care homes, and long-term care facilities. LPNs work under the supervision of RNs and physicians to provide excellent levels of care for patients. Responsibilities commonly include:

  • Monitoring and measuring patient vital signs
  • Giving and monitoring medication
  • Helping patients eat, dress, and bathe
  • Updating doctors and nurses on patient statuses
  • Maintaining patient records

Working as an LPN lets you get involved in the healthcare profession without the rigorous training required of RNs and physicians. In this role, you’ll be working very closely with your patients, not only contributing to their medical care but helping to improve their day-to-day comfort.

To find out more about being a Licensed Practical Nurse, visit our LPN career page.

Qualifications: National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)

Average median salary: $46,240*

Registered Nurse (RN)

The overarching theme of what Registered Nurses (RNs) do is patient care. Whether they work in hospitals, rehab facilities, care homes, outpatient centres, or other healthcare settings, this central element will underpin the responsibilities of the role. RNs support physicians in providing care and treatment to patients. Key responsibilities often include:

  • Observing patients and recording information
  • Collecting patient histories
  • Interpreting patient information and medical data
  • Conducting research to improve patient outcomes
  • Consulting with supervisors and physicians to develop patient treatment plans
  • Supervising CNAs, LPNs, and other healthcare professionals to deliver care plans
  • Performing exams and diagnostic tests
  • Educating patients about treatment plans

Being an RN gives you more responsibility for planning your patients’ care. You have more opportunity to impact the treatment patients will receive and will be more involved in diagnostics working alongside a physician.

If you want to find out more about Registered Nurse careers, you can take a look at our career page.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Average median salary: $73,550*

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

APRNs are nurses who have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Post-Master’s Certificate, or practice-focused Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree (DNP). Through their additional experience and qualifications, APRNs are able to complete a higher level of tasks and handle cases with greater independence than regular RNs. APRNs can fall into one of four specialist roles:

  • Nurse Practitioners (NP): NPs take on additional responsibilities for administering patient care. They can prescribe medication, examine patients, and diagnose conditions. In 20 states, NPs can conduct this work independent of physicians. In others, they still need to obtain permission for certain things.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS): CNSs are heavily involved in the planning and optimizing of practices when it comes to patient care. They concentrate much of their time on educating patients and families on how to manage conditions, researching best practices, and analyzing patient data and outcomes to improve processes.
  • Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs): CNMs undertake similar roles to OB/GYNs. They provide healthcare to women, including family planning, gynecological care, and prenatal services. They also help women deliver babies safely and naturally. In these cases, CNMs can work independently of physicians to assist with births. If there are complications, or the birth is a c-section, a physician is still needed.
  • Certified Nurse Anesthetists: A Certified Nurse Anesthetist plays a big part in patient pain management, alongside overseeing recovery. In locations across the US, particularly those away from large hospital complexes, Certified Nurse Anesthetists are often the main providers of anesthesia for those undergoing surgery and in recovery.

Working towards an APRN position allows you to take more responsibility in your role and opens up greater earning potential. It allows you more independence in your work and more control over how you operate.

For more in-depth information about how to pursue the APRN positions in your career, visit the APRN page for guidance.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

MSN or higher degree

Average median salary: $113,930*

Nurse Educator

A Nurse Educator helps to educate the next generation of nurses. In this role you would work in hospitals as well as colleges and other educational settings. Key duties include:

  • Planning and delivering a curriculum to meet course aims
  • Supporting nursing students throughout their study
  • Overseeing lab and clinical work of students
  • Delivering lectures on a wide variety of topics

Nurse Educator positions are perfect for those who have developed extensive nursing skills throughout their career and education. In this role, you’ll be able to guarantee quality care for patients for many years to come, passing on important values and considerations to a new generation of student nurses.

If you want more information about the steps you need to take to become a Nurse Educator, we’ve put together more detailed information together for you on our career page.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

MSN, PhD, or DNP

Average median salary: $78,470* (based on the salary of Post-Secondary Educators)

Medical-Surgical Nurse

When it comes to types of nurse, it’s not just their position in hospital hierarchy that can set different roles apart. As a nurse, you’ll find lots of roles open to you that allow you to specialize by subject or area of care. One example of this is med-surgical nurses. Medical-surgical nursing is the biggest nursing specialty in the US. Medical-Surgical Nurses primarily care for hospitalized patients and are responsible for coordinating care for a wide variety of medical conditions. In their role, Medical-Surgical Nurses also assist patients recovering from surgery. They are fantastic multi-taskers.

Key responsibilities of the role include:

  • Effective and efficient provision of quality patient care
  • Co-ordinating patient care plans
  • Demonstrating a compassionate approach to patients
  • Developing a strong understanding of a wide variety of medical and surgical issues

In this role you will be supporting around 5 to 7 patients at any one time, so you have plenty of opportunity to help a range of patient and develop a speciality.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

Average median salary: $71,730 (Registered Nurse)

ER Nurse

An ER Nurse is an RN, responsible for patient care in the Emergency Room. This role is varied, fast-paced, and allows nurses to treat a huge range of ailments for people of all ages and backgrounds. The role requires quick thinking and fantastic teamwork skills under pressure. Key responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring health conditions and vital signs
  • Administering medicines
  • Using medical equipment
  • Performing minor medical operations
  • Cleaning and dressing wounds
  • Triaging patients and treating symptoms in order of life-threatening priority

ER nursing is a great opportunity for those who thrive in fast-paced environments. No two days in ER nursing will ever be the same, so the job is full of adrenaline rushes and opportunities to learn.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

Average median salary: $71,730 (Registered Nurse)

Oncology Nurse

Oncology Nurses specialize in treating and caring for patients who have been diagnosed or are suspected of having any form of cancer. Oncology Nurses work in a range of different settings including hospitals, cancer centres, clinics, physician offices, and hospices. Oncology Nurses are RNs with specialist responsibilities including:

  • Educating patients and their families about disease
  • Screening patients referred by physicians
  • Monitoring patient health throughout treatment
  • Developing in-depth knowledge of the expected side effects of cancer treatment
  • Co-ordinating patient care
  • Administration of cancer treatments

Oncology Nursing can be challenging as you’ll be working with people through trying times. With the continuing advancements of cancer treatments, you’ll also find yourself part of some of the highest points in patients’ lives. Oncology nursing allows you to make a real and significant impact on your patients and their families.

Qualifications:

NCLEX

ADN or BSN

Average median salary: $71,730

The types of nurses discussed above should provide some insight into opportunities offered by nursing and where you could move onto if you are already in the sector. There are many other positions and specialties open to you within a career in nursing. If you are passionate about providing care in a specific area, or want to influence policy in a particular sphere, there is ample opportunity for you to do so as you accrue experience and expertise.

For further information about opportunities in nursing sign up for our Nurse Focus newsletter, with up to date advice and information from American Nurses Association.

SIGN UP NOW

Categories: Nurse Career Path

Tags: Career Advice

How to Study in Nursing School: 8 Tips from an Expert Nurse Educator

Blog shared from Nurse Jannah’s Osmosis webinar on successful study habits every nursing student should adopt. 

As you’re about to enter into an awesome and powerful field, you’re probably wondering about how to study in nursing school so you won’t get overwhelmed. Adopting smart study habits early on in your education will set you up to be a successful learner, test-taker, and practicing RN. Why not get them right from an expert nurse educator?

Why getting into nursing is a big deal

Did you know that, according to AACN Fact Sheets, nursing is the largest healthcare profession in the United States, with 3x as many RNs as physicians? This really speaks volumes about the big role nurses play in healthcare, but also about the challenging road to becoming one.

Nurses work in so many different settings and are in charge of a lot of things. They collaborate as a team, but they operate independently of medicine or other fields.

No wonder there’s tons of information to master in nursing school!

All of this can be overwhelming and confusing to any student: maybe it’s too much to learn in a short time, or maybe you’re not sure where to start. Maybe you feel like things aren’t sticking to your memory, or you don’t know what to use to learn, with so many resources available.

As our expert nurse educator shares in our Osmosis webinar: “This happens to a lot of us”. Here are 8 key tips that Nurse Jannah recommends on how to best study for nursing school.  

1. Get a head start on your course material

Try to stay ahead of the game before you even have a lecture. Read the chapters or watch videos and get familiar with the content—whatever the preparation looks like, it’s important to do it ahead of time.

The reason is that it’s really hard to catch up with the study in nursing school, as there’s a lot of ground to cover, and it goes by fast.

Some of the material you’ll learn is easier to understand than others, and that’s OK. Putting in the work ahead of a lecture is the most important part, as you teach your brain to set the right foundation for gaining knowledge. And even if you don’t understand everything, you build on that and let the lecture or next piece of learning help fill in the gaps.

Osmosis illustration of a nursing student working to understand the material.

2. Try making concept maps

Instead of going with the classic way of taking notes—highlighting text and rewriting pages of notes—concept maps are one fun and easy way to study for nursing school.

A concept map is a visual representation of knowledge on a subject that helps you to organize your thoughts on it. Besides being much easier, it’s also an efficient way to understand the information (rather than memorizing it).

Start with the topic you want to learn about and, first, build on it with what you learned. After that, use your notes, videos or other resources to fill in the map and get the whole picture of that topic.

Osmosis illustration of a basic concept map.

3. Meet your learning objectives

This is something that probably many often ignored as students, which you definitely shouldn’t. When you stumble upon your learning objectives (LOs), paying attention to them is one smart way to study in nursing school.

Although it seems just like a list, LOs act much like your guide to studying, because they outline exactly what you should be able to do or competently discuss after successfully learning about them. This is a really good guide to follow especially when you have a lot of content and don’t know what you’re supposed to focus on.

You can find more practical and visual examples of these tips in our webinar.

4. Make a schedule (and stick to it)

Another tip Nurse Jannah has for you is making a schedule that really sets you up for success. This means one that is realistic and adjusted to your life, your time, your responsibilities.

There’s no standard timeframe for the best learning, so the key here is to focus on quality rather than quantity. If your daily schedule allows you to study for nursing school two hours in the morning or three hours in the evening, both are fine as long as it’s according to your real attention span.

Another important thing here is to make sure you can stay committed to your schedule for studying just as you commit to other obligations in life, in a practical way. This will keep you accountable as well.

5. Teamwork makes the dream work

Speaking of accountability, another tip on how to study for nursing school the better way is finding a study partner: a friend, a tutor, or joining a study group to keep you connected.

The best thing about study groups is that you can listen to different perspectives while discussing a topic. Actively listening to how other people think and apply knowledge helps you hone your critical thinking skills. This is one important skill to have in nursing school, as you’re taking different tests and answering different types of questions.

Osmosis illustration of students studying together.

6. Find your learning style

Everybody learns differently: some students are visual learners—and Osmosis makes that easy with 1800+ animated videos for you!—while others learn better by listening to lectures or doing activities.

Try to practice a bit of self-reflection to discover your learning style and find resources that represent it, as primary learning tools. The earlier you discover how you learn best, the easier it becomes to study and not waste your time the wrong way.

7 Practice, practice, practice

Of course, it is also about practicing NCLEX®-style questions during nursing school. Not only it challenges you to apply all the knowledge you gain, but also your ability to think at a high level and analyze data in different ways.

NCLEX®-style questions are unlike any other type of questions you’re used to seeing, which is why practicing them helps to reinforce your understanding of a concept and prepares you for the final exam: the licensure examination.

Osmosis illustration of a nursing student studying contentedly.

8. Don’t forget the basics

Understanding the basics is the biggest starting point in your studying. You need to have a solid understanding of foundational sciences first, such as anatomy and physiology, because all the knowledge you learn in nursing school is based on these and it’s also what makes learning more complex concepts along the way much easier.

And finally… you got this!

And don’t forget to watch the full webinar here: Study for Success: Habits Every Nursing Student Should Adopt.

Osmosis illustration of Nurse Jannah offering nurses encouragement on their nursing journey.
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Content shared from Osmosis

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