Should You Become a Nurse

The length of nursing shifts varies depending on the work environment. A nurse in a doctor’s private practice or in a residential care facility might work five shifts of 8 hours each for a 40-hour workweek. A hospital nurse, on the other hand, might work three shifts of 12 hours each for a 36-hour workweek.

Why the difference? Hospitals are staffed 24/7, and 12-hour shifts provide better continuity because patients are under the care of a different nurse only twice a day. Hospitals generally consider 36 hours a full-time week. Part-time nurses work anywhere from 10 to 30 hours a week.

In the nurses’ survey, the highest number of respondents, 62%, said they work between 30 and 40 hours a week. The next highest number, 29%, said they work more than 40 hours a week. And only 9% said they work fewer than 30 hours a week.

The high satisfaction ratings reported in the survey discussed earlier are not unusual; the survey is done every 2 years, and respondents consistently report high levels of job satisfaction. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents to the 2017 AMN Healthcare survey said they would recommend nursing as a career choice. Connecting with patients, making a difference, contributing to better health, the variety of duties and environments you can work in—these are just a few of the reasons nurses are satisfied with their work.

As in any career, however, there are things that affect job satisfaction. Nursing is a demanding profession, both physically and psychologically. Some nurses worry that the demands of the job are affecting their health; others say they don’t have the time they need to spend with my patients, and still others say they don’t feel their leaders support them in their career development.

The nursing shortage only serves to exacerbate these situations. Most nurses enjoy the profession, but it’s not without its tolls. Expect some stress and pressure.

Nurses who work hands-on with patients are needed in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and residential care homes, and for in-home nursing care. Specialties can include neuro-trauma, neonatal, oncology, labor/delivery, anesthesia, geriatrics, acute care and orthopedics, to name a few.

School nurses specialize in all matters affecting children from preschool through grade 12. In addition to taking care of students who get sick or injured at school, they help disabled students and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, allergies, or asthma with their medical needs. They have an active role in promoting hygiene, nutrition, exercise, and wellness, and they need to be familiar with the signs of substance abuse, physical and emotional abuse, and mental illness.

Nurses in private practice enjoy an opportunity to practice independently. Of course, the type of nursing will be defined by the specialty of the doctor. Is the doctor an eye surgeon? A gynecologist? A general practitioner? The nursing care will follow suit.

Hospice nurses care for patients at the end of life and help them live as comfortably as possible. These nurses specialize in palliative care and need extremely good communication skills to help patients and their families.

Nurse educators are found in hospitals and nursing schools. In hospitals, they work with student nurses to teach patient care or alongside medical researchers. In nursing colleges, they are similar to any professor, creating lesson plans, teaching online and/or in the classroom, and evaluating students.

There are multiple levels of leadership in a hospital. Charge nurses are responsible for supervising nurses and patient care during a given shift. Nurse administrators wear two hats: They manage the nursing department as well as facilities and the budget.

Nurse practitioners are common today in doctors’ offices as part of the front line against illness and injury. Although they work under the oversight of a doctor, nurse practitioners can examine patients, make diagnoses, and prescribe medications. Nurse practitioners must earn advanced degrees in nursing, pass a licensing exam, and work for several years in the field to earn official credentials from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Certified nurse midwives are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) so they must earn an advanced degree and a certification and gain extra experience in order to practice. They monitor pregnant women throughout pregnancy and deliver their babies. In the case of complications that need a higher level of medical care, they take their patient to a hospital.

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