Date Published: February 2, 2017
“Is nursing for me?” This question is the starting point for almost every nurse. The answer, however, requires some exploring. Let’s take a look at what it means to be a nurse, review the various roles and responsibilities of nurses, and get a sneak peek at the day-to-day of a practicing nurse.
So, What Is Nursing?
We think about this question every day at ATI.
It is the blend of extensive knowledge and well-practiced skills with the attitude and ethics component of nursing that provides compassion and empathy to both patients and their loved ones.
Being a nurse means skillfully administering medication to a brave pediatric cancer patient, and it also means being a support system to his parents, who cannot fight back their tears, by lending a listening ear and being a consistent presence during this scary journey. It’s the combination of these elements that allows nursing to be such a dynamic and rewarding career choice.
Defined by the American Nurses Association, “Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations.”
We reached out to our social media audience and asked them what it means to be a nurse. Maggie R. shared, “To me, nursing is selflessness. Our patient is our priority through our intelligence, experience and compassion. We are the healing hands that people seek in desperate times.” See what others had to say in our article, What It Means to Be a Nurse.
What Do Nurses Do?
Depending on the nursing path and education level that you choose, your responsibilities as a nurse will vary, here’s how:
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN/LVN): Licensed practical nurses, known in some states as licensed vocational nurses, work under the guidance of both physicians and registered nurses. Some of their daily duties include bedside care, taking vital signs, and routine laboratory testing.
- Registered Nurse (RN): Registered nurses are responsible for many roles, but the chief role being responsible for overseeing patient care. Each day is hands on, from administering medication and treatment to performing diagnostic tests and analyzing the results. There are three degree paths associated with becoming an RN:
- Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ADN) – This degree path typically takes two years to complete.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – A BSN degree program typically takes four years to complete.
- Nursing Diploma/Certificate – Diploma programs are often associated with a hospital or provider. The duration of this degree path will vary.
What Does a Nurse’s Day-to-Day Look Like?
Did you know that there are over 100 nursing specialties? Life as an operating room nurse is different from a pediatrics clinic, which in turn, is different from an ICU nurse. Understanding what you want from your nursing career is an important step to choosing the right path. To help give you an idea, we interviewed practicing nurses who were in your shoes not too long ago.
Check out their stories:
- Sarah Washington, RN, BSN – Labor & Delivery Nurse
- Lauren Renfro, RN – Pediatric Oncology Nurse
- Shaina Rivera, RN, BSN – Travel NICU Nurse