Home Nursing Career Guides

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Nurse practitioners (NP) saw their start in 1965 when the University of Colorado developed the first nurse practitioner education program in the country.  The role of the family nurse practitioner was legitimized in 1974 when the American Nurses Association established the Council of Primary Care Nurse Practitioners.  This helped to further create the scope of practice and other standards that nurse practitioners are held to.

This type of nurse practitioner will work in a variety of settings providing total care to patients of all ages.



Family Nurse Practitioner Salary

The average family nurse practitioner salary is $94,525 per year.  The lowest 10 percent earns around $81,611 per year and the highest 10 percent earns around $109,821 per year.

Family nurse practitioners are able to care for patients in a general care capacity just as doctors do.  However, their salaries are determined by different factors.  Those working in a hospital setting tend to earn more than those working in a private clinic, for example.  Factors like certification, your level of education, how many years of experience you have and your geographic location also play major roles in how much money you earn.


Family Nurse Practitioner Job Description

A family nurse practitioner works similar to a family doctor.  This type of nurse is an advanced practice nurse with additional roles and responsibilities in providing total patient care.  The following roles and duties can be performed by a nurse practitioner:

  • Diagnose diseases, conditions and injuries
  • Prescribe therapies and medications
  • Make referrals to specialists and for diagnostic testing
  • Conduct routine physical examinations
  • Order necessary laboratory testing
  • Provide preventative care to patients
  • Manage total patient health
  • Assist in minor surgical procedures

A nurse practitioner may work at a hospital or a doctor’s office and will have his or her own patient load.  Nurse practitioners can also have their own practice in many states throughout the country.  There is a lot of autonomy in this type of nursing and NPs are able to make the majority of healthcare decisions without a doctor’s supervision.


Family Nurse Practitioner Education

A nurse practitioner will have at least a Master’s of Science in Nursing, but some choose to also pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.  The master’s degree takes approximately three years to complete when studying full time and you must be a registered nurse to apply for a nurse practitioner program.  This degree will require classroom time, clinical hours and research.  While all schools and programs will differ, the following are classes that can be taken when pursing a Master’s of Science in Nursing with focus on family nurse practitioner:

  • Health policy
  • Advanced assessment and clinical reasoning
  • Pathophysiology for the advanced practice nurse
  • Nursing research and theory for practice
  • Advanced nursing roles
  • Pharmacology for nurses in advanced practice
  • Advanced practice clinical
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Acute and episodic care management
  • Clinical skills and procedures for advanced practice nursing
  • Child health
  • Women’s health
  • Chronic illness management
  • Geriatrics

You will also complete a set amount of clinical hours that will vary depending on the state that you are studying in.  You often get a choice of where you will complete your clinical hours and many nurses choose to complete them with their current employer.  You cannot be compensated for your clinical hours, so you must do these in addition to your normal work schedule.

Research projects will vary by school and not all schools may require them.  In general, the research project will focus on an aspect of family medicine and you will need to work within the rules and guidelines set forth by your school to successfully complete it and present it.


Family Nurse Practitioner Certification and Licensing

The licensing laws that you must abide by will depend on the state that you live in.  You can pursue a certificate in primary care on the nurse practitioner level through the American Nurse Credentialing Center.  Once successful, you will hold the following credential: Family Nurse Practitioner – Board Certified (FNP-BC).  To apply for this credential, you must have an active registered nursing license, have your Master’s of Science in Nursing, have completed classes in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology and advanced health assessment and have completed at least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours.  The examination that you must pass consists of 200 questions and you get four hours to complete it.

Once you obtain your certification, it is good for five years and then you must renew it.  To renew your certification you must have an active registered nursing license, pay all applicable fees and present proof of all necessary continuing education hours.  It is recommended that you start the renewal process approximately eight weeks in advance of your certification expiring.  This allows for adequate time to meet all renewal requirements and for the organization to process your information.


Family Nurse Practitioner Job Outlook

Job opportunities for family nurse practitioners are expected to grow by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020.  In the United States, this is far faster than the average career.

Many factors come into play to create this statistic.  Many hospitals are creating outpatient care centers and smaller clinics and they need primary care providers to staff them.  The shortage of medical doctors in family medicine is leading to more and more nurse practitioners filling this need.  Nurse practitioners are also becoming the family care providers in many underserved and rural areas throughout the country.  Other factors include an increased demand for nurse practitioners in academia.


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Telemetry nursing has been around for over 50 years due to many medical advancements during that time.  During the 1960s, telemetry and cardiac units were founded in New York, Philadelphia and Miami.  This resulted in a major need for skilled cardiac nurses who were able to treat patients with serious issues like heart attack and heart arrhythmias.  By the 1970s, these units helped to decrease heart attack mortality by nearly 20 percent.

This is largely due to nurses being able to perform cardiac monitoring and CPR.  Telemetry nurses monitor electrocardiograms and assist patients on cardiac units with a variety of telemetry needs.



Telemetry Nurse Salary

Telemetry nurses on the registered nursing level earn around $55,432 per year.  The lowest 10 percent earn around $44,395 per year and those with the highest earning potential in the top 10 percent can earn around $70,438 per year.

Where you work will have an impact on your salary.  For example, if you work in a large and well-known hospital system, you will have a much higher earning potential than if you were to work in a smaller system.  Your experience level, certification status, geographic location and education level also play a role in how much you can earn.


Telemetry Nurse Job Description

Telemetry nurses mainly work at hospitals on telemetry and step-down units.  These are units that focus on caring for patients with cardiac issues.  However, they may also work in home healthcare, at clinics and at doctor’s offices.  This type of nurse performs a variety of duties throughout his or her shift.  These can include the following:

  • Measure and monitor vital signs
  • Read EKG rhythms and strips
  • Monitor heart activity
  • Monitor pulse rate and blood pressure
  • Monitor breathing patterns
  • Administer medications and appropriate treatments
  • Assist in obtaining the proper diagnostic testing and laboratory samples
  • Educate patients
  • Perform emergency resuscitation if necessary
  • Assist doctors with certain procedures
  • Report any changes in the patient’s status to the doctor
  • Providing basic hygiene care to patients
  • Discharge planning and teaching
  • Use and maintain specialized equipment
  • Assist patients with presurgical and postsurgical needs
  • Assess psychosocial status
  • Develop appropriate nursing care plans


Telemetry Nurse Education

To become a telemetry nurse in the United States, there are a few things that you need to do first.  All facilities throughout the country will require that you have the following:

  • An associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an approved US school
  • A current registered nursing license
  • Some facilities will want you to have at least one year of registered nursing experience

An Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) will take 18 to 24 months to complete when you are attending school on a full-time basis.  If you pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) you will need at least three to four years to complete your degree when you are attending school on a full-time basis.  Both degrees require a mixture of clinical, laboratory and lecture hours.  How many clinical hours you require will depend on the state that you are in.  The following are typical classes taught in nursing school throughout the United States:

  • Pharmacology
  • Human growth and development
  • Medical surgical nursing (usually has a clinical component)
  • Acute care nursing (usually has a clinical component)
  • Obstetrical nursing (usually has a clinical component)
  • Fundamentals of nursing (has a laboratory component)
  • Geriatric nursing (usually has a clinical component)
  • Pediatric nursing (usually has a clinical component)
  • Psychiatric nursing (usually has a clinical component)


Telemetry Nurse Certification and Licensing

Telemetry nurses must possess an active and unrestricted registered nursing license to work on a telemetry unit.  Gaining other certifications in this field can also help to increase your job prospects and income potential.  These include Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and the Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN) certification.

ACLS is granted by the American Heart Association.  You must complete two days of training, at about six hours each day, to complete your initial certification.  After you successfully complete this, you will be granted a two-year certificate.  To renew your certificate, you must complete a seven-hour course every two years.

The PCCN is offered by the Association of Critical-Care Nurses.  To sit for the examination you must meet the following requirements:

  • Paying all applicable fees
  • In the last two years, you must have a minimum of 1,750 hours of bedside care in acute care for adults
  • In the last five years, you must have a minimum of 5,000 hours of general registered nursing experience
  • An unencumbered registered nursing license

Once you pass the examination, you will have if for three years.  Before it expires, you must properly renew it.  Renewal requirements include:

  • An unencumbered registered nursing license
  • In the last three years, you must have at least 432 hours of direct acute patient care experience
  • Pay all applicable fees
  • In the last three years, you must have completed 60 continuing education from Category A, 10 continuing education credits from Categories B and C and another 20 in the category of your choice


Telemetry Nurse Job Outlook

The job outlook for telemetry nurses is very strong.  It is estimated that between 2008 and 2018, job growth will increase at a rate of 22 percent.  This is much faster than most other jobs in the United States.

Many factors are playing into this massive job growth.  One is that the US population is aging and as people age, there is a higher risk of cardiac events that require telemetry care.  The next factor is that in 2014 Americans will have greater access to healthcare benefits.  This will cause an increase in the number of patients seeing doctors and getting the care that they need.  Lastly, many nurses will be retiring during that time frame.  This opens up immense opportunities for new nurses who aspire to work on telemetry units.


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Surgical nursing involves caring for patients that require surgical intervention.  These nurses may work in actual operating rooms or on surgical units caring for patients before and after procedures.  This field of nursing came to fruition during the early twentieth century, but was not very clearly defined until the 1960s when school began teaching it as a specialty.  In today’s world, this type of nurse works with a diverse population of patients, including those of all ages, health statuses and surgical needs.

Depending on the hospital and the acuity of the unit, this type of nurse can be caring for over a handful of patients in a single shift.



Surgical Nurse Salary

Surgical nurses earn an average median salary of $62,971 per year.  The lowest ten percent earn an average salary of $46,002 per year and the highest ten percent earn an average of $87,292 per year.

Your salary is highly dependent on a variety of factors.  The hospital you work for matters greatly because the bigger hospitals in the country tend to pay more simply because they see more patients due to their name being nationally recognized.  Smaller hospitals in suburbs and rural areas tend to pay less due to not being as well known.  Other factors include your level of experience, your education level and which types of surgeries you are involved with.  For example, some surgical nurses work in general surgery and assist with many different surgical procedures every day, but other nurses may work alongside a specialty surgeon, such as a cardiothoracic surgeon or a neurosurgeon.  Those working with specialty doctors usually have the ability to earn more.


Surgical Nurse Job Description

Surgical nurses work as a team with many different healthcare providers, such as imaging technicians, surgical technicians, surgeons and anesthesiologists.  Common duties include:

  • Patient monitoring
  • Handing equipment to the surgeon
  • Keeping the operating room safe and moving along
  • Assisting the doctor with the procedures
  • Understanding the patient’s history
  • Performing pre-operative and post-operative care
  • Pain management after surgery
  • Ensuring sterile technique

You can work in a variety of settings.  Common environments for a surgical nurse include cardiac catheterization labs, hospitals, surgical centers, ambulatory surgical centers, emergency rooms or urgent care centers.

Nurses in this specialty have a wide variety of options, as there are many sub-specialties within the surgical field.  For example, you may choose to generalize and do a wide variety of surgeries, or you may choose something obstetrics where you assist in Cesarean sections or orthopedic surgery.  Many emergency rooms will have both scrub nurses and circulating nurses.  A scrub nurse mainly assists the surgeon and the circulating nurse keeps the operating room moving efficiently.


Surgical Nurse Education

Surgical nurses must be prepared for the demands of surgical patients.  In general, those wishing to work in this specialty need to at least have the following:

  • A current, active registered nursing license
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of medical-surgical nursing practice in the last three years
  • At least two years of registered nursing experience

Surgical nurses will possess at least an associate degree, but many hospitals require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  All schools will differ a bit in what they require for your bachelor’s degree.  However, the core courses are generally the same and you will also have clinical requirements.  How many hours of clinicals you need to complete as a student nurse will depend on the state that you are going to school in.  Common courses include:

  • Health assessment
  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Basic skills of nursing practice (usually requires an associated lab)
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Obstetrical nursing
  • Community health nursing
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Acute care nursing
  • Nutrition


Surgical Nurse Certification and Licensing

Surgical nurses must successfully complete their National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses to start in surgical nursing.  This registered nursing license is the bare minimum.  In fact, many facilities will require further certification, such as the Certified Nurses in the Operating Room certification.  To be able to sit for this examination you must possess the following:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • 2,400 hours of operating room experience as a registered nurse
  • An active registered nursing license

The examination consists of 200 questions and you will have 45 minutes to complete it.  Once you pass this examination, you will need to renew it every five years to maintain active status.  To renew your CNOR, you must compete 125 contact hours, 75 of which must be related to perioperative care.  You must also complete 300 points in the following activities:

  • Continuing education
  • Academic study
  • Presentations
  • Being a committee or board member
  • Mentoring or precepting
  • Publishing
  • Teaching

In the last five years, you must have worked at least 500 hours in perioperative nursing.  When you recertify, you will pay a fee of $370 for a standard recertification.  If you choose to do this early, the fee is $295.


Surgical Nurse Job Outlook

Surgical nursing is one of the fastest growing nursing specialties.  It is going to see one of the highest growth rates between 2010 and 2020, with an expected increase in employment opportunities of 26 percent.  To compare, the expected growth rate for registered nurses during this same time period is 22 percent.

This growth is largely attributed to surgical nurses being cost effective and because of major advancements in surgical technology.  As hospitals seek to save more money with the large increase of patients who will be insured in 2014, they will turn more to nurses for care of surgical patients.  This will include all aspects of surgical care from checking patients in for surgery and pre-operative care, to duties in the operating room and post-surgical care on medical-surgical units.


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The very first known nursing school was established in India in 250 BC.  Now, modern nursing as it is known today began in the 1800s and was developed by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War.  As decades passed, nurses took on more and more responsibilities and nursing education became more standardized in the early 1900s, with most education coming from hospitals.  The need for qualified registered nurses increased greatly after World War II and many colleges and universities throughout the United States started to develop nursing programs for both licensed practical nurses and registered nurses.  The registered nurse provides complete patient care within the scope of nursing practice guidelines.

This includes everything from administering treatments to aiding in the diagnosis and health maintenance of all types of patients.



Registered Nurse Salary

The average registered nurse salary is $67,610 per year.  The lowest 10 percent RN nurse salary is around $54,395 per year and the highest 10 percent is around $80,438 per year.

Registered nursing salaries vary greatly.  Your employer, size of your employer and where your employer is located will all factor into how much money you make as a registered nurse.  Registered nurse certifications, registered nurse education and your level of experience will also play a major role.


Registered Nurse Job Description

The registered nurse job description is varied and includes a broad scope of tasks and responsibilities.  60 percent of registered nurses work in a hospital setting, but other opportunities exist in small clinics, prisons and jails, schools, community centers, home health care, government agencies and nursing agencies.  Nurses may perform the following roles throughout the shift, depending on where they work:

  • Identify patient requirements
  • Create and execute nursing care plans
  • Provide emotional, spiritual and psychological support to patients
  • Adheres to all standards set by state nurse practice acts and the state board of nursing
  • Maintains and clean and safe work environment
  • Resolves patient problems
  • Advocates for patient rights and needs
  • Documents all related care
  • Ensure equipment is clean and working properly
  • Administers medications and certain treatments
  • Works to resolve medical emergencies
  • Performs certain diagnostic tests
  • Consults with physicians and other members of the healthcare team
  • Supervises subordinates



Registered Nurse Education

To become a registered nurse you will either need to complete an accredited Associate of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  After you complete your degree, you will sit for your National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses and will need to successfully pass it.  Some employers will require experience, but the majority of nurses can find entry level employment in medical surgical nursing.

When you are looking at how to become a registered nurse, you will see that an associate degree will take about two years and a bachelor’s degree will take about four years to complete.  Each degree will combine a mixture of lecture classes and clinical requirements.  The classes that typically have both a classroom and a clinical aspect include:

  • Pediatric nursing
  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Obstetrical nursing
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Acute care nursing

Each school will vary in what they require for each class and the program as a whole.  It is important to look at how to become an RN and find a school that best aligns with your learning style and preferences.


Registered Nurse Certification and Licensing

The first license you will pursue to become a registered nurse is your registered nursing license.  The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses will allow you to seek and obtain employment in the United States as a registered nurse.  There are over 100 additional certifications that you can pursue if you wish to specialize as a registered nurse.

If you wish to work in a more acute setting, you will want to look into getting your Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certificate.  This is a certification that is granted by the American Heart Association and must be renewed every two years.  The initial class will require you to be present for two days and each day will last approximately six hours.  Your will learn about advanced techniques in emergency cardiac care so that you are able to handle more complex cardiac medical emergencies.  A seven-hour course must be completed to renew your certificate.

If you want to go into a specific field, such as emergency nursing, cardiac nursing or pediatrics, you can obtain certificates in these areas to broaden your knowledge, and in some cases, your scope of practice.  Most of these require a year of experience in that specialty, an unrestricted registered nursing license, an examination and continuing education to maintain your certification.  More and more hospitals are requiring further certification to maintain their magnet status or to obtain magnet status.  These certifications are also shown to improve overall patient care.


Registered Nurse Job Outlook

The job outlook for a registered nurse is very strong and is expected to only get stronger in coming years.  Employment opportunities are expected to increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018.

There are many factors associated with the faster than average job growth for registered nurses.  One factor is that many older nurses are getting ready to retire and new nurses are needed to take their place to ensure optimal patient care.  The aging population as a whole has increased the need for skilled nurses to provide competent patient care.  New technologies, the emergence of new hospitals and the birth of new sub-specialties are also working to increase the need for registered nurses.


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Pediatric nurses work with youth, children and families performing actions such as illness management, health promotion and health restoration.  The pediatric nurse was not officially established until the field of pediatrics was in 1855.  During this time the first child-focused hospital, The Children’s Hospital, was founded in the United States in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Throughout the latter part of the 1800s, children’s hospitals were opened in Washington DC, San Francisco, New York City, St. Louis, Albany and Detroit.

During the early American years, children were treated with folk medicine by family members, or were treated by the midwives of that time period.  Only the wealthiest Americans were able to have their children seen by a physician.



Pediatric Nurse Salary

The median annual salary for a pediatric nurse is around $70,000.  The top 10 percent can earn up to $150,000 per year while the lowest 10 percent earn around $30,000 per year.

A variety of factors come into play when determining how much pediatric nurses earn each year.  Your employer and where this employer is located makes a big difference.  For example, a nurse working in a pediatric hospital in a major city is going to earn more than a nurse working in a pediatric unit at a rural hospital.  Your level of experience and education, specialization and exact area of pediatric medicine will all also play a role in your salary.


Pediatric Nurse Job Description

Pediatric nurses work with children of all ages and can work with patients up to 21 years of age.  They can also work with adults that have had lifelong pediatric disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.  They work in a large variety of settings, including major hospitals, pediatric clinics, urban free clinics, doctor’s offices, home care, juvenile detention centers, pediatric intensive care units, public health centers and schools.

Pediatric nurses will perform a wide variety of functions throughout their shift.  Some common tasks include:

  • Take and monitor patient vital signs
  • Perform EKGs and other diagnostic testing
  • Obtain patient history and information
  • Educate patients and their families about diseases, home care instructions, lab results, procedures and diagnostic testing
  • Communicate with doctors and other members of the healthcare team
  • Arrange for hospital admissions
  • Sterilize and clean equipment
  • Record patient history and keep parents and guardians informed
  • Process patient paperwork
  • Stock and clean examination rooms

These are just very basic tasks and they will vary greatly from job to job.  Some facilities have pediatric nurses doing the majority of the care, such as home healthcare agencies, and other facilities have pediatric nurses working directly with a team of medical professionals.


Pediatric Nurse Education

Pediatric nurses are most often registered nurses who have chosen to work in the field of pediatrics.  However, you can pursue a master’s degree and become a pediatric advanced practice nurse, which is usually a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist that specializes in pediatrics.  In general, a pediatric nurse must possess the following:

  • Associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • State licensure as a registered nurse
  • Pediatric nursing experience

Becoming a registered nurse will take about two years on the associate degree level and three to four years on the bachelor’s degree level.  You will need to complete classroom instruction and will have clinicals with each nursing class.  Typical classes and clinicals include the following:

  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Acute care nursing
  • Obstetrical nursing
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Nursing fundamentals

You will also take a variety of science courses, such as:

  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology


Pediatric Nurse Certification and Licensing

Pediatric nurses are licensed registered nurses working in the field of pediatrics.  You will need at least a National Council Licensure Examination f or Registered Nurses license.  This licensed must be renewed every two years through your State Board of Nursing.

While not all employers require it, many pediatric nurses also pursue their Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) training through the American Heart Association.  This will increase your chances of working with more critical patients.  The full course will take about 15 hours the first time you take it.  When it is time to renew your certificate, this takes around eight hours.  You will need to renew this certificate every two years to stay current.

Pediatric nurses can pursue a wide variety of certifications, depending on the type of pediatrics that they want to practice.  Each of these vary in terms of requirements, but all require some type of registered nursing experience (usually a minimum of one to two years), some type of examination, renewal requirements and continuing education credits related to the area of pediatrics they are working in.  The following are pediatric certifications that pediatric nurses can pursue:

  • Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse – Given by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
  • Pediatric Nurse Certification – Given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • Certified Pediatric Nurse – Given by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board

Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse – Given by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board


Pediatric Nurse Job Outlook

There is an expected increase in job openings of 22 percent between 2008 and 2018 for nurses in this field.  In this 10-year span, it is estimated that 581,500 new pediatric nurses will be needed to keep up with the demand.

In the United States, those under 25 years of age are not giving birth at the rate that they used, resulting in record lows.  However, those ages 40 and over are giving birth at a higher rate.  In fact, this is the highest level of birth for those over 40 since 1967.  Since women approaching older age can have additional issues during pregnancy, this has led to the need for more healthcare providers in pediatrics to help children and families with conditions like autism, Downs syndrome and respiratory disorders.


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Nurses have worked in an occupational health capacity since the field of nursing was born, but this specialty was not officially recognized until 1971 when the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses was established.  This type of nurse has a very diverse job description and will perform many tasks throughout the day.

They may work in an occupational therapist capacity, or they may work for major corporations in a consulting capacity, so that they can help to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

Occupational Health Nurse Job Outlook


Occupational Health Nurse Salary

The median occupational health nurse salary is $71,441 per year.  The lowest 10 percent earn $57,623 per year and the highest 10 percent earn $86,538 per year.

How much you earn will depend on a large variety of factors.  For example, occupational health nurses usually command a much higher salary when they work for nationally-recognized hospitals than when they work for smaller community hospitals.  There are also great salary differences seen when nurses work for major corporations instead of hospital systems.  Other factors that can impact your earning power include your level of experience, whether you have any occupational health nurse certification, your level of education and your geographic area.


Occupational Health Nurse Job Description

This type of nurse can work in hospitals, clinics, outpatient centers, for corporations or for state and federal governmental agencies.  He or she will perform a wide variety of tasks and these many include:

  • Assessment and observation of the work environment and all workers
  • Educating employees and employers about different medical diagnoses
  • Identification of abnormalities
  • Describing the response to different exposures in the workplace
  • Documenting illnesses and injuries that are related to the workplace
  • Evaluating the occupational and medical histories of employees
  • Evaluating employee subjective complaints
  • Performing industrial hygiene and diagnostic screening tests
  • Evaluating personal exposure monitoring
  • Looking at the workplace and identifying potential exposures and hazards
  • Managing both non-occupational and occupational injury and illness

This type of nurse needs to be very familiar with the industry that he or she works in.  They will need to know about different things to look for that could potentially cause health issues and accidents.  For example, if the nurse works for an industrial steel plant, he or she needs to understand how the different machines work, the different chemicals used and the general process of steel production.  This will help in identifying potential issues before they arise and cause illness or injury to one or more employees.  When this type of nurse works at a hospital, he or she usually deals with workplace injuries and illnesses and may help to decide if any Worker’s Compensation claims are viable.


Occupational Health Nurse Education

When you are looking at how to become an occupational health nurse the first thing you will notice is that you need an undergraduate degree in nursing.  You can choose an associate degree which will take about two years to complete or a bachelor’s degree which will take about four years to complete.  The school you choose must be fully accredited to ensure that you can sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.  Once you are licensed, you can seek employment opportunities in occupational nursing.

Your undergraduate nursing degree will require that you take a mixture of both lecture classes and clinical hours.  Some lecture classes will also have a laboratory component.  The following are common classes taken with undergraduate nursing degrees:

  • Pediatric nursing
  • Microbiology
  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Pathophysiology
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Obstetrical nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Nursing fundamentals
  • Nutrition
  • Acute care nursing


Occupational Health Nurse Certification and Licensing

You will need to begin by obtaining your registered nursing license by successfully passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.  Once you pass this you can start to seek a career as an occupational health nurse.  To expand your knowledge and career opportunities, you can choose to pursue your Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) certification.  This is granted by the American Board of Occupational Health Nurses and requires that you pass a 160-question test.  To apply for credentials, you must have have your registered nursing license and 3,000 work hours in the field of occupational health within a five-year period.

Once you receive this certification, it will be active for five years.  You must renew it before the five years is up to remain active.  To recertify you must meet the following requirements:

  • Active registered nursing license
  • Documented continuing education
  • Pay all applicable fees
  • 3,000 hours of occupational health nursing practice


Occupational Health Nurse Job Outlook

The growth rate for occupational health nurses is much faster than the average rate.  Career opportunities in occupational health nursing are expected to grow by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020.

The new guidelines surrounding medical insurance for employers and the increased cost of Worker’s Compensation benefits have spurred an increase in the demand for occupational health nurses.  This type of nurse can also help to ensure a healthy workforce and this will be in greater demand once more and more companies start offering medical insurance to their employees.  This type of nurse can save companies money by helping to prevent workplace accidents and helping to ensure a healthier work environment.


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The role of the nurse practitioner (NP) is very new and only goes back to 1965 when the first nurse practitioner education program was developed by Dr. Henry Silver and Dr. Loretta Ford at the University of Colorado.  In 1985, the establishment of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners helped to better develop the scope of practice, education requirements and the different certification requirements that are necessary to earn and maintain nurse practitioner status.
Nurse practitioners work in a capacity similar to a medical doctor because they are able to do things like diagnose and treat medical conditions, prescribe medications and manage a patient’s total health care.


Nurse Practitioner Salary

The average nurse practitioner salary is $94,525 per year.  The lowest 10 percent earns around $81,611 per year and the highest 10 percent earns around $109,821 per year.

The amount of money you make varies greatly because nurse practitioners can take on so many different roles.  For example, an acute care nurse practitioner is going to earn more than a family practice nurse practitioner, in most cases.  There are various specialties and certifications that can help to increase your earning power.  Other considerations, such as your geographic location, level of experience, education level and your specific employer will also work to determine your salary.


Nurse Practitioner Job Description

In looking at what is a nurse practitioner, you will find that this type of nurse has a large variety of roles and responsibilities.  This advanced practice nurse is able to provide total care to the patients that he or she cares for.  The type of nurse practitioner you become will determine the duties that you perform.  The following are general tasks that a nurse practitioner will complete on the job:

  • Diagnosing illnesses and injuries
  • Referring patients for more advanced care
  • Ordering laboratory and imaging testing
  • Conducting assessments and examinations
  • Prescribing medications and therapies

There are many different settings in which a nurse practitioner can work.  These include:

  • Cardiology
  • Family medicine
  • Neonatology
  • Oncology
  • Primary care
  • Women’s health
  • Emergency medicine
  • Geriatrics
  • Nephrology
  • Pediatrics
  • School health

Nurse practitioners may practice at major hospitals, clinics or outpatient facilities.  In some states, this type of nurse may also have his or her own practice.


Nurse Practitioner Education

To become a nurse practitioner you will pursue a Master’s of Science in Nursing with a nurse practitioner focus.  Most schools will allow you to focus on the exact type of nurse practitioner that you want to be.  The following specialty areas can be pursued by a nurse practitioner:

  • Acute care
  • Family nursing
  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s healthcare
  • Adult nursing
  • Geriatrics
  • Psychiatry

To begin your master’s degree, you must be a registered nurse and many programs will require that you have at least some experience working as a nurse.  When you pursue the degree full-time, it will take about three years to complete your master’s degree.  Your degree will consist of classroom instruction, a research project and clinical hours.  All of these requirements will vary by school, but the clinical component is generally at least 500 hours and the research project will focus on the specific specialty that you wish to practice in.  The following is a sample list of classes you may take throughout your degree:

  • Nursing theory
  • Leadership for advanced practice nursing
  • Nursing research
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Assessment of individuals, communities and families
  • Primary healthcare of children
  • Primary healthcare of adults
  • Primary healthcare of women
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Diagnostic processes in advanced practice nursing


Nurse Practitioner Certification and Licensing

Licensure will depend on your state, as well as the specialty that you plan to go into.  You have many different options and all of the requirements will differ.  However, there are some general requirements that most nurse practitioner certificates will require and these include:

  • Having an active registered nursing license
  • Successfully completing an accredited Master’s of Science in Nursing degree
  • At least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours
  • Having taken the following classes: advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology and advanced health assessment
  • Pay all applicable fees

Once you have your certificate, it will last for five years in most cases.  Before your certificate expires, you must renew it to continue practicing.  Renewal generally requires the following:

  • Having worked a set amount of hours as a nurse practitioner in your specialty
  • Paying the applicable fees
  • Presenting proof that you completed all required continuing education credits
  • Having an active registered nursing license

It is important to get the renewal process started two to three months in advance to ensure plenty of time to get the documentation together and have it reviewed by the proper board and/or organization.  If your certificate runs out, you may not be able to practice until it is active again.


Nurse Practitioner Job Outlook

Between the years 2010 and 2020, there is a projected 26 percent increase in the need for qualified nurse practitioners.  This is much faster than the average career in the United States.

This significant need can be related to a large variety of factors.  The need for primary care is increasing and there are just not enough doctors in the United States to provide this.  Nurse practitioners are also expected to be helpful in areas that are underserved and rural in nature.  Other factors include an increased demand in academia and the fact that new outpatient centers are popping up all over the country and they need more primary care providers.


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The LPN job description was born in the late 1800s and has been evolving ever since.  The first LPN training program was established in 1892 by the Young Women’s Christian Association in New York City.  The job of the LPN became standardized and more official by the National League of Nursing in 1917.  Today, LPNs work alongside registered nurses and other healthcare professionals to provide total patient care in a variety of settings.

While many hospitals are replacing LPNs with registered nurses, there are still many job opportunities available in various sectors of healthcare.



Licensed Practical Nurse Salary

The average LPN salary is $42,174 per year.  The lowest 10 percent LPN salary is $35,574 per year and the highest 10 percent licensed practical nurse salary is around $49,526 per year.

How much you earn will depend on things like where you work and who you work for.  You also need to consider things like your level of experience, your education level, whether you have earned any certificates and your setting.  For example, an LPN tends to earn more in a hospital setting than in a nursing home.


Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description

When answering the question, “what is an LPN nurse” you will find a wide variety of duties and roles and these ultimately depend on where you work.  The following tasks are within the LPN scope of practice and may be performed by this type of nurse:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Administering certain treatments
  • Providing hygiene and personal care to patients
  • Documents patient care
  • Takes and records vital signs
  • Performs cleaning and safety care
  • Assists the physician with certain tasks
  • Can initiate CPR
  • Acts as a patient advocate
  • Practices within the LPN scope of practice
  • Assists the registered nurse

This type of nurse can work in many different settings.  The majority of LPNs work in nursing homes, home healthcare and other long-term care facilities.  However, they can also find employment in doctor’s offices, major hospitals and outpatient centers.  Your roles and duties will depend on where you work.  For example, an LPN working in a doctor’s office may check in patients, take vital signs, take patient histories and help in determining the patient’s chief complaint.  In a nursing home, this type of nurse may provide almost total care for a set of patients.


Licensed Practical Nurse Education

To become a licensed practical nurse you will need to complete an accredited training program.  You will complete a mixture of classroom study and clinical hours.  It will take one to two years to complete your degree, depending on your school and the type of program you are pursuing.  For example, some schools offer an associate degree on the LPN level and this will take two years to complete.  Schools who offer diplomas generally take one year to complete.  The following courses are common in LPN programs:

  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Medical calculations
  • Anatomy and physiology

These are just example classes because each program will differ a bit in what you need to take.  Which classes require a clinical or a laboratory component will also differ among schools and programs.


Licensed Practical Nurse Certification and Licensing

To become an LPN you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.  This exam assesses whether or not you have the minimum level of competency necessary to enter the LPN job market.  Those who pass this examination are deemed safe practitioners and able to learn and grow as an LPN.

LPNs may also pursue additional certification to increase their marketability and to enhance their knowledge in a specific field.  LPN certifications can help to:

  • Make you more marketable
  • Give you greater mobility in healthcare
  • Allow you to carve out a career in the specialty that you like the most

The following certifications can be pursued by LPNs:

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Basic Cardiac Life Support
  • Case Management
  • Certified Clinical Research Associate
  • Certified Clinic Research Coordinator
  • Certified Correctional Health Professional
  • Certified Hemodialysis Nurse
  • Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse
  • Certified Peritoneal Dialysis Nurse
  • Developmental Disabilities Certification
  • Gerontology
  • Healthcare Quality
  • IV Certification
  • Long-Term Care
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support
  • Pharmacology
  • Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist
  • Transplant Coordinator
  • Urology
  • Wound Care Certification

Each of the above certificates have different requirements.  However, most will require that you have at least one years of experience and that you have an unrestricted LPN license.  You will most likely need to pass an examination to gain your certification and will need to complete a set amount of continuing education credits to maintain certification.  The various life support certifications require that you renew them every two years and that you take a retraining class to be recertified.


Licensed Practical Nurse Job Outlook

Between 2010 and 2020 the job prospects for LPNs are expected to increase by 21 percent.  This is faster than the national average.

Many LPNs work in nursing homes and with the older population in the United States increasing rapidly, more and more LPNs will be needed to meet this demand.  LPNs will also be needed in the hospital setting to assist with various types of patients because more patients will have access to healthcare in 2014.  This type of nurse also plays a major role in the home healthcare industry and often takes on a full patient load on his or her own.


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The role of the ICU nurse unofficially began in the 1930s when recovery rooms were introduced into hospitals throughout the country.  However, the birth of the critical care unit was not until the late 1950s.  In 1965, the first specialized ICU was formed and this was a coronary care unit to try and reduce the mortality rate associated with heart attacks, which at the time, was 30 to 40 percent.  In 1969, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses was established to provide certification, educational support, journals, research and standards of practice.

ICU nurses work with high-acuity patients with a wide range of illnesses and injuries.  They work to restore patient health from issues that are life-threatening and complex.



ICU Nurse Salary

The average ICU nurse salary is $67,310 per year.  The lowest 10 percent earn an average of $54,441 per year and the highest 10 percent earn $78,181 per year.

ICU nurses work with very high acuity patients and this tends to earn them a larger salary that most other types of registered nurses.  When you look at a typical ICU nurse description, you will find that they must be able to think very quickly and critically so ensure that patients are properly cared for.  Patients of all ages can be seen and there are dozens of tasks that have to be done to ensure that they are recovering as they should.  Salary varies greatly based on things like your education level, how much experience you have, the hospital you work for and the part of the country you work in.  You will often find a greater salary at private hospitals than you will at a public hospital.


ICU Nurse Job Description

The ICU nurse works with patients who are experiencing severe medical issues, such as heart attack, shock, respiratory distress, stroke, severe trauma or other similar issues.  Pre- and post-operative patients may also be in the ICU for skilled and complex nursing care.  Responsibilities and duties will vary from place to place, but general ICU nursing duties include:

  • Assessing patients regularly
  • Assessing and recording vital signs
  • Observing for changes in a patient’s condition
  • Planning and implementing nursing care plans
  • Providing advanced life support
  • Wound care
  • Assisting the doctor with certain procedures
  • Ensuring that all medical equipment is clean and functioning properly
  • Administering intravenous fluids
  • Administering medications
  • Ordering diagnostic testing
  • Collaborating with other members of the healthcare team
  • Acting as a patient advocate
  • Providing education to the families of the patients on the unit


ICU Nurse Education

ICU nurses must complete either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing at an accredited school.  This will allow you to sit for your National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).  Many employers will want at least six to 12 months of registered nursing experience before you are able to become a nurse in the ICU.  Some will also prefer bachelor’s degree candidates over associate degree candidates.

When you are looking at how to become an ICU nurse, you will find that the program you complete will require both clinical hours and classroom instruction.  The clinical hours necessary will vary by state, and in some cases, the program that you choose to pursue.  If you pursue an associate degree, you will spend about two years in school.  If you pursue a bachelor’s degree, you will spend about four years in school.  The following classes are common in undergraduate nursing programs:

  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Obstetrical nursing
  • Acute care nursing
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatric nursing



ICU Nurse Certification and Licensing

You will need to pass your NCLEX-RN before you can pursue a career as an ICU nurse.  Once you have this and are working in acute care, you can choose to pursue your CCRN-E Adult Tele-ICU Acute/Critical Care Nursing Certification.  To be eligible for this examination, you must meet the following requirements:

  • An active, unrestricted registered nursing license
  • At least 1,750 hours of acute care nursing experience
  • Have eligible clinical practice hours
  • Pay applicable fees

This certification is obtained by successfully completing an examination.  The exam is 150 questions and you have three hours to complete it.  Once you have your certification, it is good for three years.  To renew your certification, you must meet the following requirements:

  • An active, unrestricted registered nursing license
  • 432 hours of acute care experience
  • Completion of all required continuing education credits

For continuing education, you will need 100 credits in three years.  These must be in the proper categories and most must be focused on ICU and critical care topics.  When you are renewing your certification, you must present proof that you completed the hours.


ICU Nurse Job Outlook

Between the years 2008 and 2018, the job opportunities for ICU nurses are expected to increase by 22 percent.  Acute care nursing is one of the fastest growing nursing fields.  This population in the United States is aging and this is resulting in people living longer with more serious medical conditions.  When they take a turn for the worse, ICU nurses are needed to help and restore their health.  For example, in the United States, there are increases in the diagnosis of various neurological conditions and cardiovascular diseases.  Accidents, falls and other injuries also bring many into ICU units throughout the country.


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Home health nursing has a rich history that dates back to 1813 in Charleston, South Carolina.  The Ladies Benevolent Society of Charleston was founded by Sarah Russell and her family members to help and provide the sick with healthcare and food.  In 1877, the New York City Mission started sending trained nurses to people’s homes and the Visiting Nurses Association was born in 1890.  The basic home health nurse job description describes a nurse that provides a wide variety of nursing care to patients in the home environment.

They mainly work with the elderly, but there are home health nurses for pediatric patients and younger adults too.



Home Health Nurse Salary

The median annual home health nurse salary is $70,378.  The lowest 10 percent earn an average of $57,721 and the highest 10 percent earn an average of $85,826.

The home health nurse can earn a wide range of salaries based on several factors.  Geographic location and patient acuity both play major roles.  For example, a home health nurse in New York City caring for critically ill patients will earn more than a rural home health nurse assisting the elderly in taking medications and preparing meals.  Both are vital to society, but there are wide variations in salary.


Home Health Nurse Job Description

Home health nurses work in the homes of their patients to provide total care.  This kind of nurse can be hired through an agency or work through a major hospital network.  They will perform a wide variety of duties and these can include:

  • Helping patients with activities of daily living
  • Administering medications
  • Maintaining central lines
  • Educating patients
  • Taking patient vital signs
  • Performing therapeutic procedures
  • Conducting health screenings
  • Tracking patient progress
  • Observing and assessing patients
  • Inspecting medical equipment
  • Providing support to patients
  • Helping patient family members
  • Working with a total healthcare team to assist the patient

The delivery of home healthcare is very diverse.  Some nurses will specialize in a certain population, such as children or geriatrics, and some will take on a more broad and general caseload.  The patients you work with largely depends on your employer, your geographic location and your personal preferences.  You may also choose to focus on one heavy caseload patient each day instead of seeing multiple patients.


Home Health Nurse Education

Home health nurses can be either licensed practical nurses or registered nurses, but the trend seems to be favoring those who have a registered nursing license.  This degree can be obtained in two to four years, with an associate degree taking two years and a bachelor’s degree taking four years.  Once you complete an accredited undergraduate nursing degree program, you will need to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses to get your license.  You will take a variety of classes and need to complete a set amount of clinical hours to obtain your nursing degree.  How many clinical hours you need to complete will depend on the school that you choose to attend.  The following classes are commonly taken with undergraduate nursing degrees:

  • Pediatric nursing
  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Obstetrical nursing
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Acute care nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Nursing math
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Health assessment
  • Nursing fundamentals
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Statistics


Home Health Nurse Certification and Licensing

You will need to get your registered nursing license by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses before you can enter the field as a home health nurse.  The Home Health Nursing Certification has been retired, but nurses who already possess this credential can continue to renew it.  Those renewing will not be able to do so with an examination, so it is critical that this is done with meeting the work and continuing education credit guidelines.  Those renewing their credential should ensure that they do so at least two months in advance to prevent a lapse.

Home health care nurses can also benefit from getting their Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certificate.  This is especially true for those who work with older patients and patients with significant cardiovascular disease.  This certificate is given by the American Heart Association and it is good for two years.  To obtain this certificate, you must complete a two-day course in which each day is approximately six hours long.  The class involves both lecture and hands-on training in advanced life support techniques.  Before your two years are up, you will need to take a single seven-hour course to renew your certification.


Home Health Nurse Job Outlook

There is a projected increase of 22 percent for home health nurses between 2008 and 2018.  More and more people are requiring skilled nursing care at home to help them in maintaining independence or to remove the burden from close family members.

The population in the United States is aging out of proportion due to the baby boomers and people are simply living longer today.  This will lead to 72 million people over age 65 in the next 25 years.  20 percent of the US population will be older adults by the year 2030.  Healthcare agencies are trying to get skilled nurses now that will be able to deal with the boom in patients that is projected to happen.


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