What is Nursing? | Career Overview & Introduction

Nursing supports the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of those requiring medical care.

It also helps people lead better lives by providing medical aid, healthcare information, and emotional support.

In general, nursing is a broad field within the medical industry that encompasses over 100 different career pathways.

Each specialization facilitates a specific type of healthcare for individuals and industries with various needs.

Those who work in this field vary drastically in terms of education, training, specialization, and medical roles.

For instance, nurse assistants and licensed practical nurses help patients with basic daily tasks.

It includes taking vital signs, assisting patients with mobility and eating, and administering medicine.

Conversely, APRNs and nurse practitioners diagnose ailments, prescribe medications, and act as primary healthcare providers.

There are also specializations outside conventional nursing for those who want to work in non-bedside care occupations.

For example, legal nurse consults help lawyers and the court on subjects requiring medical knowledge and expertise.

Alternatively, forensic nurses help law enforcement determine potential causes of death and abuse.

Some nurses also work on advocacy and policy reform and operate in the education sector, among other careers.

Nurses can even branch out independently and become nurse entrepreneurs or independent contractors.

Registered Nurse Responsibilities:

  • Assess patient’s medical condition (observe and interpret symptoms)
  • Evaluate patients throughout the rehabilitation process
  • Administer medications and treatments
  • Educate patients about their injury, illness, and ailments
  • Collaborate with nurses and doctors/physicians to develop patient care plans
  • Update medical records and documentation
  • Supervise LPNs, CNAs, and nursing assistants
  • Assist patients in the ICU, ED, critical care, trauma unit, and other sensitive settings
  • Feed, bathe, and clean patients unable to care for themselves
  • Remove Stitches

How Nursing Impacts Patient Care

Nurses provide bedside care to individuals with various illnesses, injuries, and ailments.

Accordingly, these medical professionals provide essential care to patients under diverse circumstances.

Nurses also assist physicians, nurse practitioners, and other specialists with managing various medical tasks.

It enables these experts to deliver effective and efficient medical care promptly.

Registered nurses make up the most significant percentage of healthcare workers and contribute enormously to hospitals. 

As a result, patient care would suffer dramatically without highly trained and educated nurses.

Physicians and nurse practitioners would also experience burnout and work overload without an adequate nursing staff.

How Nursing Impacts Healthcare Systems

Nurses play an essential role in various healthcare systems.

For instance, they conduct research, develop better healthcare procedures and practices, and educate future professionals.

They also provide valuable information to communities, government bodies, and various industries.

Nurses work in various disciplines, including education, research, entrepreneurship, legal consulting, pharmaceuticals, and technology.

As a result, they’re vital to numerous healthcare fields involved in health, patient care, and employee performance.

How Nursing Impacts Community’s

Nurses provide education and resources to a broad diversity of communities.

They help local neighborhoods gather the information they need to lead happier, healthier lives.

They also deliver medical aid to underserved communities and ensure everyone has the tools they need to remain healthy.

Finally, community health nurses push for better healthcare standards and reform in their state/government.

Career Diversity in Nursing

The broad range of careers available to nurses ensures they can pursue various interests, necessities, and qualities.

The high demand for well-trained nurses also provides a certain level of job security and benefits.

Nursing provides a respectable income for those who work hard, with some specialists earning six-figure salaries.

Nevertheless, a registered nurse’s income depends on specialization, experience, background, and expertise.

Nursing is a diverse and complex healthcare profession.

However, all careers follow a similar purpose to improve healthcare and provide people with a better quality of life.

Here is a short list of occupations to provide a better idea of the essential roles nurses play in the healthcare system,

It demonstrates a few of the many careers, responsibilities, and roles that impact society.

Nursing Career Path Examples

Each career offers distinct ways to improve the healthcare system and individuals who rely on medical professionals.

As a result, this section explores various careers nurses pursue to provide patient care and education in diverse disciplines.

Forensic Nursing

Forensic nurses focus on cases involving physical and mental abuse and death-related issues.

These nurses may work with physically and mentally abused patients to determine the cause of their injuries.

They also work alongside law enforcement to solve cases where there is an unsolved death.

Forensic nurses use their training and expertise in human physiology, anatomy, and science to assist with various forensic cases.

It enables them to determine how and why a crime (if any) took place.

It also helps them identify what happened to the victim so they can proceed with their investigation and find the criminals (if any) involved in the incident.


  • Examine and gather medical evidence related to the case
  • Interview members, family, friends, and witnesses
  • Hypothesize potential causes of the victim’s situation
  • Determine the 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 prepare students for the nursing profession.

These experts perform lectures, prepare tests, grade papers, create study material, assign homework and educate students on various nursing topics.

As a result, they help students prepare for exams required to earn their certificate or degree and work as nurses.

Nurse educators also work directly in healthcare settings to educate specialists and improve their knowledge and proficiency.


  • Educate and help students prepare for their roles as nurses
  • Create educational programs, courses, and study material
  • Give lectures, homework, exams, study materials, and hand assignments to nursing students
  • Provide constructive feedback to educate students properly
  • Assist students with their preparation for state exams and certifications

Research Nurse

Research nurses perform various tests and research data to improve the healthcare industry.

Their research helps improve healthcare systems and procedures and enables professionals to make better decisions.

Firstly, research nurses analyze case studies, explore new and existing medications, investigate new medical technology and collect patient medical records.

They also perform controlled studies and tests and use the data to create or improve medical practices and safety procedures.

In some cases, they’ll perform other research-based tests to compare results and improve future healthcare actions.


  • Research medical data on the benefits/hazards of new and existing medications to determine their risks/benefits
  • Collect patient information (including medications) and use the data to create and improve procedures and policies
  • Report findings to the legal and healthcare divisions to improve drug usage and prevent serious medical problems

Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses focus on the mental/psychological ailments a patient may be facing.

They use their knowledge to create treatment plans to help patients alleviate or eliminate problematic mental conditions.

Psychiatric nurses diagnose and treat patient ailments, prescribe medications, and develop rehabilitation programs.

They also act as the patient’s primary care provider in full-practice states.


  • 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 nurse consultants work alongside lawyers to provide medical facts to cases involving legal-medical claims.

These specialists determine the legitimacy of claims and identify whether it relates to the lawsuit the plaintiff is disputing.

They also help lawyers and judges with complex medical terminology and determine the extent of an illness and injury.


  • Gather the plaintiff’s 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 slang
  • Report findings and medical opinions based on the information gathered inside and outside of the courtroom

Trauma Nurse

Trauma nurses work in the emergency room at a hospital or healthcare center.

These specialists care for severely ill and injured patients.

These nurses deal with various medical incidents, from less severe injuries such as broken bones to patients requiring life support and surgery to survive.

They also assist doctors and physicians during surgical operations and other essential procedures.


  • 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 IVs, assess the patient’s condition, and perform other medical duties.
  • The future of nursing

Career Outlook

Nursing is a relatively complex and diverse profession.

However, every nursing specialization concentrates on how to improve individuals’ lives and make healthcare better.

Accordingly, nursing creates a happier, healthier society by providing individuals with a better quality of life.

Those who work in nursing can pick a specialization that’s particularly meaningful to them.

As a result, most students and nurses can find a career that suits their interests, skillset, and knowledge. 

The nursing profession also offers excellent salaries ranging from $40,000 to over $200,000 annually.

Besides that, nursing provides excellent career advancement opportunities, job stability, income potential, and health benefits.

The growing demand for nurses will continue for years, with BLS.gov estimating 9% job growth over the next decade.

Thus, aspiring nurses have numerous opportunities to pursue exciting occupations with multiple career pathways.

For more information on the various career opportunities within nursing, check out, Careers in nursing.