Many Diverse Roles for Nurses
© 2007 by Kathy Quan RN BSN
All Rights Reserved

In 2005, the theme for Nurses Week was "
Nurses: Many Roles, One Profession". This easily defines nursing's many diverse opportunities. For some nurses, that first day of clinicals is a defining moment. Some either fall in love with hospital nursing or absolutely hate it.

As student nurses travel through the various clinical rotations, it is not uncommon to fall in love with each one and then to have a difficult time deciding where to work after graduation. Most experienced nurses suggest a year of med/surg to really master skills and become comfortable with being a nurse first.

Not All Nurses Work in Hospitals
Hospital nursing is not the only role for nurses, although approximately 3 out of 5 nurses do work in hospitals according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. And many roles in the hospital are changing to accommodate the aging population of nurses. As healthcare evolves, it is predicted that the number of and need for hospital nurses will decrease.

Other Venues and Roles
Nurses work in industry as health care educators and industrial health nurses; they assist on movies sets providing first aid and medical assistance and sometimes as consultants or coaches for those portraying medical personnel in movies or television.

They work in home health, doctor’s offices, public health clinics, and as flight nurses assisting patients who need to be transported. Nurses are a vital part of the armed forces throughout the world. Research nurses work in areas such as pharmaceuticals, and clinical trials of drugs and other treatment modalities.

Pharmaceutical companies also employ nurses as drug reps to educate physicians and pharmacists on new medications. Medical supply companies hire nurses to educate other nurses and healthcare workers on their products such as wound care supplies.

Insurance companies utilize nurses in a variety of roles from educating patients to case managing care for patients from single episodes to catastrophic illnesses.

Nurse Educators for Nurses and Patients
Of course all nurses are patient educators who not only educate patients, but also other nurses and healthcare workers. Those who specialize in diseases such as diabetes also educate patients and other healthcare workers in managing chronic illnesses. Staff development nurses help to orient new staff and offer continuing education and information to all staff.

Nurse educators who work in nursing programs in colleges and universities usually have at least an MSN. Full professors have their PhD. Many ADN and LP/VN programs also hire BSN nurses, especially with the shortage of nurse educators. Often they require the BSN nurses to be enrolled in an MSN program.

Advanced Education Needed?
Nursing education (clinicals) takes place primarily in hospitals to give nurses the general skills that will take them on their journey throughout their career. A year or two working on a med/surg unit gives most nurses a generalized background that allows them to move into a variety of other roles.

Nursing roles expand constantly to meet the needs of patients and the healthcare and wellness environments. Some roles require advanced or specialized education, such as an MSN, an NP (nurse practitioner) or CDE (certified diabetic educator).

Others just require the courage to make a change. If you're not happy in your current role; investigate a change before you give up nursing all together. The
beauty of a nursing career is that there are so many roles open to you.

For some assistance in understanding the requirements for nursing specialties, AJN the
American Journal of Nursing, compiles a career guide each year.

All Those Initials
Many nurses have a long list of credentials and initials after their name. To find out more about these Wikipedia compiled a list of nursing credentials. The vastness of this list should give you some indication of the many varied roles available to nurses. You can search the Internet for more information about each of these roles for more information about necessary education and experience.

You can always find great advice from
Donna Wilkes Cardillo, the nurse career guru.

©2007 by Kathy Quan RN BSN PHN, all rights reserved. No portion of this document may be used in any format without written permission.
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