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What do Nurses do?

, What do Nurses do?

Registered nurses (RNs) represent one of the cornerstones of any hospital or professional medical center. Simply put, nurses complement physicians in preparing patients to receive healthcare services, as well as performing and assisting with many of those same healthcare services. Typically, registered nurses collect health histories and administer physical exams, which are both essential healthcare services for new hospital patients. The nurses then streamline this information into a medical report that the physician can review quickly before conducting further tests and prescribing a course of treatment.

In critical situations, intensive care unit (ICU) and emergency room (ER) nurses administer life-saving and stabilizing treatment to patients with serious illnesses or injuries. RNs also supervise healthcare services performed by licensed practical nurses and nurses’ aides. Unlike physicians, nurses are often found in settings far removed from hospitals and other primary medical care facilities. Military bases, schools, cruise ships, camps, applicable industries (such as in the occupational health division), and pharmaceutical companies often have their own nurses on staff. Nurses may also assist pharmaceutical companies with drug research and development. Other professional medical care centers, such as ambulatory (outpatient) care, long-term care, nursing homes, radiology labs, physical rehabilitation facilities, and psychiatric care facilities all typically maintain a nursing staff.

As with most medical professions, nurses participate in an extensive medical education system prior to certification. While licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can reach certification with one year of intensive study, the registered nurse (RN) certification takes an additional year. For the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), students often require four to five years to complete the requisite course load and fieldwork. High median income and stable long-term prospects draw many students to the profession, but despite this a nursing shortage in the United States is projected through 2020. The nursing shortage is at least in part expected to stem from the ever-shifting standards and practices demanded by hospitals in their new nursing hires.

The nursing profession as a whole has also experienced a bottleneck in recent years due to the global economic recession, causing many nurses near retirement age to remain on hospital staff when they otherwise may have retired. New nursing hires consequently face much more intense competition when entering the job market, which has in turn caused hospitals to inflate their entry standards. Many entry-level nursing positions now require significantly more experience than they did a generation ago, and potential new nursing hires must first locate job announcements that do not require extensive (often 3+ years full-time nursing) experience.

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nurses standing in hospital

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