Nursing is a field of medical care that supports the physical, mental, emotional & spiritual needs and health of individuals in need of medical care, health care information and emotional support.
Overall nursing is a broad field within the medical industry that encompasses over 75 different career paths each designed to facilitate a specific type of healthcare to individuals suffering from a wide variety of ailments.
Those who work in this field can vary drastically in terms of education, training and medical roles from working as a nurse assistant helping patients with basic daily tasks such as taking vital signs, assistant patients with walking and eating, and administering medication to working as a nurse practitioner where they can open their own clinic, diagnose and treat ailments, prescribe medications and act as a primary health care provider.
There are also a number of fields outside of conventional nursing such as providing legal counsel to lawyers and the court on subjects that require medical knowledge and expertise, performing forensic work to determine potential causes of death and abuse, assisting with advocacy and policy reform and operating in the education sector among a number of other nursing path.
Nurses can even decide to branch out own their own and become entrepreneurs or independent contractors.
The wide variety of career paths available to those interested in becoming a nurse or supporting the field of nursing means that there are a wide variety of available jobs that can support a wide variety of interests and personality types.
The high demand for well trained nurses also provides a certain level of job security and benefits and tends to draw in a respectable income for those who work in the field based on their location, abilities and expertise.
While the field of nursing is quite diverse and complex all career paths follow a similar purpose to improve the healthcare of the individuals within the society it operates and provide those within a given society with a better quality of life.
To give you a better idea of the important roles nurses play in the healthcare system here is a short list to demonstrate just a few of the many different career paths, responsibilities and roles available to those who work as nurses.
Nursing career paths – What do nurses do?
Forensic nursing – Forensic nurses focuses on cases involving physical and mental abuse and cases involving death.
These nurses may work with patients who have been physically and mentally abused or work alongside law enforcement in order to solve cases where there is an unsolved death.
Forensic nurses use their training and expertise of human physiology, anatomy and science in order to assist with various cases in order to determine how and why a crime (if any) took place and what happened to the victim so that they can proceed with their investigation and possibly find the criminals (if any) involved in the incident.
- Examine and gather medical evidence related to the case
- Interview involved members, family, friends and witnesses
- Hypothesis potential causes of the victims situation
- Determine validity of the case based on evidence
- Communicate findings and thoughts to participating legal parties such as police, lawyers and judges
Nurse educator – Nurse educators work in the education field and use their knowledge to help students prepare for roles within the nursing industry.
Nurse educators may perform lectures, prepare tests, grade papers, create classroom study material, assign homework and educate students on the various fields of nursing in order to help them prepare for any state exams which are required in order to earn their certificate or degree so that they may begin working as a nurse.
- Educate and help students prepare for their roles as nurses
- Give lectures, homework, exams, study materials and hand assignments to nursing students
- Provide constructive feedback to make sure students are being properly educated
- Assist students with their preparation of state exams that are required for nurse certification
Research nurse – Research nurses perform various tests and research medical data in order to improve the health care industry and help health care professionals make better decisions within their field of expertise.
Research nurses may research case studies, research new and existing medications, study new medical technology and collect patient medical records, perform controlled studies and tests on willing individuals, use research data to create and improve current medical practices and safety procedures and perform a number of other research based tests in order to improve future health care actions.
- Research medical data on the potential benefits/hazards of new and existing medications in order to determine their risks/benefits
- Collect information on patients and individuals taking medications and use the information to create and/or improve medical procedures and policies
- Report findings to the proper legal and/or healthcare divisions in order to ensure proper actions are being taken among drugs that may provide significant benefits or cause serious medical problems
Psychiatric nurse – Psychiatric nurses focus on the mental/psychological ailments a patient may be facing and will use their knowledge to create treatment plans designed to help patients alleviate or eliminate their problematic medical condition.
Depending on education and training a psychiatric nurse may diagnose and treat patient ailments, prescribe medications, design specific treatment plans and rehabilitation programs and act as their patient’s primary health care provider.
- Examine the mental/psychological health of their patients
- Provide advice and constructive feedback to help patients improve their condition
- prescribe treatment plans and medications to patients in need of further intervention methods
- Structure rehabilitation programs to help patients regain their mental health
Legal nurse – Legal nurses often work alongside lawyers and/or judges in order to bring their medical knowledge to cases involved injuries and/or illnesses.
Legal nurses use their expertise in order to determine the legibility of medical claims, help lawyers, judges and the jury understand complex medical terminology and determine the extent of an individuals illness and/or injury as well as whether or not it is related to the claim they are disputing in court.
- Gather plaintiff medical records, history and other information related to the legal case
- Research and assess the validity of potential medical claims
- Assist lawyers, judges and jury in understanding complex medical terms, jargon and other lingo
- Report findings and medical opinions based on the information gathered inside and outside of the courtroom
Trauma nurse – Trauma nurses can often be found working in the emergency room at a hospital or health care center caring for patients who are either severely ill or are involved in a physical trauma.
These nurses deal with a wide range of medical incidents from less severe injuries such as broken bones all the way up to patients who require life support and/or surgery in order to survive.
They may also assist doctors and physicians during surgical operations and other highly important medical procedures in order to ensure that the patient receives adequate medical care.
- Assist doctors and physicians with medical procedures
- Provide medical assistance to patients suffering from injuries and trauma
- Check patient vital signs and overall health
- Give medications, check IV’s, assess the patients condition and perform other medical duties
The future of nursing
The field of nursing is quite complex and diverse, however every field of nursing whether small or large focuses on improving the lives and healthcare of the individuals it serves in order to create a healthier society and provide individuals with a better quality of life.
Those who work in the nursing field have the ability to choose a field of specialty that is particularly important to them and matches their interests.
Salaries can range from $30,000 per year to over $200,000 per year.
As a whole the field of nursing looks extremely promising for those interested in strong career opportunities, job stability, income potential, healthcare benefits and personal interests.
And the growing demand for talented nurses is likely to continue for many years to come.
For more information on the various career fields available within the nursing field check out: Careers in nursing