Job Profile: Nurse

The following information provides an overview about a career as a nurse. The diverse field of nursing comprises numerous specialty and sub-specialty areas, in addition to general practice, with each specialty requiring different skill-sets and education criteria.

Typically, registered nurses work in nursing homes, hospitals and private practice physician offices. Nurses may also work independently for healthcare organizations or in the legal field, providing testimony or opinion in legal cases. Nurses are also employed by prisons, schools and teaching institutions.

Nurses provide patient care, working closely with doctors, administrators and nursing assistants. General nursing duties may include gathering information for diagnosis, administering medications, ensuring patient’s rights and communicating with physicians and other healthcare team members.

Nurse anesthetists work directly with anesthesiologists to administer and monitor anesthesia for patients undergoing surgery. Geriatric nurses work primarily with elderly clients and midwife nurses are qualified to assist in the delivery of babies. Oncology nurses provide services for clients undergoing cancer treatment, while pediatric nurses work with children in a variety of settings. These are just a few of the specialty areas nurses may choose from.

Degrees and Experience Needed

An associate’s degree in nursing, in addition to successfully passing the National Council Licensure Examination and meeting state-licensing requirements, is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions in the field. Obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree provides more job opportunities and typically higher earnings. Nurses pursing specialties or teaching and research positions must obtain a master’s or doctorate degree.

All nurses must have excellent communication skills and people skills. Nurses must also be physically fit and have the stamina necessary to work long hours with much time spent standing or walking. Along with being physically fit, nurses must be emotionally fit to deal with the stress absorbed working with distressed patients. Nurses must also be knowledgeable about anatomy, body systems, life sciences, medical terminology and pharmaceuticals.

How Much Does a Nurse Make?

In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published an annual mean salary of $64,690 for registered nurses. Nurses working in private surgical and medical hospitals earned an annual average salary of $66,650, while nursing care facilities paid on average $58,180 annually.

According to CNNs Money/Payscale, certified registered nurse anesthetists earned a median salary of $157,000 with top salaries reaching $214,000 annually. Nurse Researchers and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners earn annual salaries in the mid-90s and neonatal nurses, nurse educators and geriatric nurses earn average annual salaries between $70,000 and $74,000. Entry-level nursing salaries start around $34,000 per year on average.

Future Prospects

According to the BLS, in 2010 there were 2,737,400 registered nurses working in numerous disciplines throughout the United States. Predicted job growth of 26 percent from 2010 through 2020 would introduce 711,900 new jobs into the nursing sector. A few of the most appealing factors about a career as a nurse include job security, room for advancement through experience and education and a financially lucrative livelihood.