Today’s healthcare systems are incredibly complex. They rely on a vast array of different professionals to provide patient care, including many nurses. Read on to find out about the six types of nurses and what role they play in modern healthcare.
- Registered Nurses
When most Americans think of nurses, they’re thinking of registered nurses (RNs). RNs play many essential roles in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities, from patient assessment and diagnosis to treatment planning, implementation, and evaluation. All RNs have at least associates degrees, but completing an Online BSN Completion Program to obtain a bachelor’s degree can open up career opportunities for those already working in the nursing field.
- Licensed Practical Nurses
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) perform similar medical duties to RNs, but they can only work under the supervision of doctors and RNs and the scope of their practice is smaller. They’re often responsible for basic patient care tasks like taking vital signs, treating wounds, and administering medications. Obtaining an LPN degree only takes around a year, which makes this a logical first step for those who have no experience in the medical field.
- Clinical Nurse Specialists
Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are specialized nurses who receive a rigorous education in one particular area of medicine or treatment. It’s common to find CNSs working in emergency rooms, intensive care units, trauma units, and specialized facilities that cater to cancer patients, diabetes patients, or others with more specific needs. To become a CNS, a nurse must hold a BNS and either a master’s degree or a doctorate depending on the specialization.
- Certified Nursing Assistants
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) help RNs and LPNs with routine daily tasks and patient care. They’re responsible for responding to patients’ immediate needs, such as helping with personal hygiene, bringing in food, or reporting changes in condition to RNs or doctors. Unlike RNs and LPNs, CNAs are not allowed to perform intensive duties like administering medications or altering treatment plans. CNA degrees are easy to obtain through a vocational school or community college, but certified nursing assistants don’t earn as much money as others in the nursing field.
- Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners (NPs), like CNSs, usually specialize in one area of medicine. They have a broader scope of practice within that field than CNSs, though, and are often given the authority not just to diagnose patients and suggest treatment plans, but even to conduct independent research and guide practice operations. In many states, NPs have full practice authority, meaning they can take on the same responsibilities as doctors. To become an NP, a nurse needs a BNS, a master’s degree, and previous experience as an RN.
- Nurse Case Managers
Nurse case managers are responsible for long-term treatment and rehabilitation. They work with patients who suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and age-related diseases and take both a hands-on and administrative approach to guiding ongoing care. Nurse case managers hold active RN licenses and most pursue master’s degrees in Nursing Science, but they aren’t exclusive to one particular field of nursing.
Meeting Career Goals
Becoming an NP or a CNS takes a lot of time and advanced education. Those who are just starting their nursing careers are better off seeking practical experience in the field as LPNs or RNs before pursuing higher education to further their career goals.