Whatever nurse salary a nurse may make, in many cases nurses are the professionals patients will interact with most during any visit to a healthcare facility, whether it be for a yearly checkup or an emergency room visit. Of course, patients work with doctors to manage their health and treatment plans, but nurses are always involved from start to finish and work hard to ensure that patients are comfortable with their treatment.
Nurses also ensure that patients fully understand what is to be expected during the course of their visit, as well as for their overall treatment. Nurses are dedicated, strong, and kind individuals who are devoted to assisting their both their doctors and their patients. There are many things to consider when thinking about entering the field as a nurse. If you are currently considering the career of a nurse, continue reading for more information on the job description, as well as information on the average nurse salary and what to expect if you consider a career working as a nurse.
What Is a Nurse?
A nurse is a licensed medical professional that has the potential to work in a myriad of different locations, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, and shelters just to name a few. Nurses currently make up almost three million individuals in the American workforce. Depending on the type of nursing education and licensing they possess, they may perform different types of duties and receive a different nurse salary level. Continue reading for a list of commonly sought-after nursing careers in today’s workforce.
Popular Nursing Occupations
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Physician Assistant (PA)
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- Obstetrics and Gynecology Nurse (OB GYN)
While these are some of the most popular nursing occupations, there are even more that make up a wide variety of options available to anyone considering entering the nursing field.
Schooling Required to Become a Nurse
The schooling that is necessary to become a nurse may vary with each nursing career, but all nurses follow a generally similar path when attending school in order to begin their careers.
The first step in becoming a nurse is to take as many science and health classes as possible in high school. Prospective nurses usually ensure that they enter college with as much medical knowledge as possible.
When entering college, most prospective nurses are required to achieve either an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, depending on the nursing path that they have chosen. For the higher-paying nursing jobs, a bachelor’s degree is always preferable.
Students then complete an accredited nursing program, in which they complete more concentrated nursing studies and clinical trials in order to get hands-on experience. Upon the completion of a nursing program, nurses are required to become licensed to practice.
The process of becoming licensed may vary from job to job and may depend on the state, but most nursing licensing is achieved through the successful completion of state-regulated boards and exams. Some nursing occupations require the nurse to complete a few years of residency before they truly begin practicing as a licensed nurse, while other nurses are able to enter the workforce immediately.
For nurses with a higher degree, such as Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants, it is required that they undergo another four years of schooling to achieve a master’s degree.
After entering the workforce, most nurses are required to complete continuing education classes every few years to stay up-to-date on the latest medical information and schooling. The medical field is always changing as more research is conducted and more is discovered about health management.
What Is a Typical Nurse Salary?
Due to the wide range of different career paths available as a nurse, the average nurse salary may vary from job to job. Some nursing degrees and licences require a more rigorous schooling program, and some nursing careers have more responsibilities and tasks than others. Continue reading for a list of the average nurse salary for each of the previously listed nursing careers.
Typical Nurse Salary for Different Occupations
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): $44,840
- Registered Nurse (RN): $68,450
- Physician Assistant (PA): $102,090
- Nurse Practitioner (NP): $104,610
- Obstetrics and Gynecology Nurse (OB GYN): $73,550
What Does a Nurse Do?
The job description of a nurse, like the average nurse salary, varies with each nursing position. Some nurses oversee other nurses and work directly under a doctor, while other nurses work directly under another nurse. Below is a detailed breakdown of the duties and responsibilities of some of the more popular nursing occupations.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Nursing Duties
An LPN is responsible for taking and recording patients’ vitals and working with the patient to determine their condition before they see the doctor. The LPN delivers medications to patients and starts IVs. Licensed Practical Nurses generally work under the supervision of either a Registered Nurse or a Nurse Practitioner.
Registered Nurse (RN) Nursing Duties
Registered Nurses are responsible for recording patients’ vitals, working with medical equipment, running diagnostic medical tests, and examining the results, among other duties. The duties of a Registered Nurse may vary greatly depending on their work setting. They may also assist in patient rehabilitation and follow up with patients on their health. Registered Nurses also educate and inform patients and their families on various health conditions and treatments. Generally, an RN works directly with a physician and oversees the job performance of Licensed Practical Nurses.
Physician Assistant (PA) Nursing Duties
Physician Assistants are much more directly involved in the treatment of patients than other nursing professions. Physician Assistants administer and prescribe medications to patients, diagnose conditions, develop comprehensive treatment plans, assist in the carrying out of said treatment plans, and assist the physician with procedures and surgeries. PAs are also responsible for educating and informing their patients and their families on their medical conditions as well as the different treatment methods and options available to them.
Nurse Practitioner (NP) Nursing Duties
Nurse Practitioners are hands-on with the treatment of patients, much like a Physician Assistant. Nurse Practitioners are educated at “doctoral levels” in order to ensure that they are able to diagnose and treat patients. They are responsible for the assessment and diagnosing of patients’ medical conditions, as well as the development and administration of medications and treatment plans.
Nurse Practitioners assess their patients’ medical conditions and have the ability to order lab testing when necessary and assess the results of the lab.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Nurse (OB GYN) Nursing Duties
Obstetrics and Gynecology Nurses are involved in the treatment of pregnant patients. They assist during labor to ensure a smooth and safe childbirth and manage patient treatment postpartum. Obstetrics and Gynecology Nurses assess the vitals of both mother and fetus prior to birth, and during postpartum treatment they are responsible for assisting with the care of the newborn: washing the infant, weighing it, and ensuring that it is able to properly breathe on its own accord.
Pro’s and Con’s of Becoming a Nurse
The career of a nurse can be extremely rewarding, but it can also have its drawbacks, as well. Continue reading for a list of the various pro’s and con’s of becoming a nurse for a more thorough understanding of the realities of joining the workforce as a nurse. Notice that some of the same things appear as both a pro and con of becoming a nurse. This is because some people will consider these things a positive, while others will consider them a negative. It all depends on you.
- Job security
- Predicted job growth
- Comfortable and competitive pay
- The satisfaction and reward of helping people
- Wide variation with different nursing careers path options
- Flexible work schedule
- Standing and walking for long periods of time (exercise)
- Ability to work part time or full time
- Long hours available for those who wish to work them
- Variety of work (not repetitive day-to-day)
- Wearing scrubs to work everyday
- Extensive schooling
- Large amounts of student loans to complete school
- Long hours (12 hour shifts not uncommon in some fields)
- Dealing directly with bodily fluids
- Dealing with negative or unpleasant patients
- Standing and walking for long periods of time
- High amounts of stress
- High amounts of tension
- Wearing scrubs to work everyday
- Competitive nursing programs
- Competitive residency programs
While there are many different variations of the nursing occupation, all variations can prove extremely rewarding careers for the individual that chooses to follow a nursing career path. As the duties of each occupation vary, the average nurse salary varies as well. It is important to keep in mind that while the salary for a job is an important deciding factor when choosing a career, the average nurse salary should not be the only deciding factor in choosing your nursing career.
The career of a nurse is hard work and requires a love for helping people manage their health and remain happy and healthy. Nursing is certainly not for everyone, but for those that cannot imagine working in any other field, nursing is a wonderful and rewarding career.