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Individuals that enjoy providing care for others may want to consider a career in nursing. In addition to the myriad of job opportunities available in this field, individuals seeking positions as nurses can choose between a wide range of educational and career levels to select the profession that best matches their needs and desires. Presently more than 2.5 million individuals worldwide are practicing in the field of nursing. Despite the large number of professionals in the field, nursing shortages remain a persistent problem which continues to impact demand for qualified professionals.
Nursing professionals generally work in a wide range of healthcare settings to provide basic patient care. Depending on the professional’s level of expertise and education, nurses may also be responsible for direct diagnosis of the patient.
Regardless of the position held by the professional, nurses typically have a deep desire to help others. By providing care to a patient, nurses combine art of human caring with medical practice to create a healing environment that provides the patient with comprehensive support for achieving wellness. Although nursing can be a personally rewarding career it can also be physically and emotionally demanding. Providing patent care requires professionals that are able to cope with the challenges of disease, disability and death.
Careers in nursing are generally structured following a hierarchy of education/training obtained by the professional. All nursing professionals are required to have some post-secondary education. The level of education acquired will determine the specific career level of the profession. The following represents a review of current positions in nursing practice:
• Licensed Practical Nurse or LPN: LPNs are required to obtain one year of nurse training through a vocational or technical school. Following graduation those seeking employment in the field will be required to become licensed. LPNs provide basic care services to patients including: feeding, bathing and assisting patients in daily activities.
• Registered Nurse or RN: RNs require a two year Associate Degree or a four-year Bachelor Degree to practice in the field. RNs must also be licensed. RNs provide more medical services to the patient than LPNs. This may include drawing blood or administering medication.
• Advanced Practice Nurse or APN: APNs hold a Masters Degree in a specific area of nursing practice. Professionals in this role can diagnose patients and provide services similar to those provided by a primary care physician. APNs can also seek positions in nursing management.
Industry Salary Info
Salaries for nurses will be contingent upon the professional’s level of education and the specific type of facility in which the nurse is employed. Because of the current shortage of nursing professionals in the US, salaries for nursing professionals at all levels are quite generous. For instance, median annual salaries for LPNs working in a hospital were $40,250 in 2008. LPNs working in a nursing care facility can command median annual salaries of $42,590. Registered nurses that have an Associate or Bachelors Degree and work in a hospital can earn as much as $68,610 annually. RNs working in a physician’s office can command salaries as high as $70,530. Professionals that seek advanced degrees in the field and acquire a Masters Degrees will be able to command very generous salaries. Median annual incomes for an APN specializing in anesthesia were $156,032 in 2008. APNs working as certified midwives had median annual salaries of $91,242 in 2008.
The job outlook for nursing professionals on all levels is expected to be among the highest for all occupations through 2018. While demand may vary by geographic region—urban areas will have a higher demand for nursing professionals—overall significant job growth in the field is expected. Demand for nursing professionals is being fueled by a current shortage of nurses and the need for more healthcare services as the population ages. Older professionals retiring from the profession coupled with high turnover in some nursing occupations also continues to fuel demand for nursing professionals. Demand for APNs is anticipated to increase due to changes in the healthcare field. Shortages of primary care physicians have prompted the need for APNs that are capable of providing primary care services for patients. Passage of the recent healthcare reform law will further increase the need for APNs. More than 32 million individuals without health insurance will require primary care services by 2014.