Nursing is unique as a career in that it provides tremendous flexibility. There are many different types of nursing jobs, from traditional hospital positions to other roles, like being a school nurse. The variety of jobs available to nurses makes it an appealing career to many.
Different Types Of Nurses
There are many different types of nurses that work in different clinical areas or have different levels of education. The types of nursing qualifications or nursing certifications that a nurse has will often separate them from other nurses and influence which types of positions they are likely to be able to work in.
3 Main Types Of Nursing
There are three different levels of nursing that someone wanting to become a nurse can achieve. These different types of nursing are primarily separated by the amount of education that they take to achieve. Each of the three main types of nursing also has different types of licensure, resulting in different scopes of practice that affect what they are able to actually do while practicing.
LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)
Working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) requires the least education of any nurse but has the most limited scope of practice. LPN duties are primarily task-based. Unlike other types of nursing, LPNs are not able to conduct independent assessments, and any assessments must be supervised by a nurse with a higher level of licensure.
LPN requirements simply require passing an LPN program that takes about a year and passing the NCLEX-LPN, the national licensure exam for LPNs.
RN (Registered Nurse)
Registered nurses (RNs) are the type of nurses that most people think of when they think about nurses. RN duties include performing tasks ordered by physicians, such as administering medications and providing medical treatments. RNs are able to assess patients, functioning as a doctor’s eyes and ears while they are not with the patient.
RN requirements generally require completing an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing the NCLEX-RN, the national licensure exam for RNs.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are the highest level of clinical nursing and provide care similar to a doctor under a doctor’s supervision. Nurse practitioner duties include performing physical evaluations, diagnosing diseases, and prescribing medications and treatments.
The nurse practitioner requirements are the most intensive of any kind of nurse and include being an RN, earning a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, and passing a nurse practitioner certification exam.
Available Nurse Jobs
There is a growing demand for nursing jobs, and opportunities continue to expand in almost every area of nursing. Nursing jobs often include fixed positions in a hospital but can include many other types of opportunities.
Travel nurse jobs are growing in popularity and the travel nurse job outlook has significantly expanded since the COVID-19 pandemic. This type of nursing position involves taking a temporary assignment, generally 13 weeks long, in a facility that has a specific need. The high and growing demand for these types of nurses has led to the average travel nurse salary growing significantly in recent years.
Travel nurse duties are specific to the type of area that the nurse works in. Travel nurse responsibilities will generally be the same as the staff nurse’s responsibilities in the clinical area they work in. Because these positions require a nurse to quickly adapt to the new environment and hit the ground running, travel nurse requirements often include previous experience in the clinical area they are working in.
Emergency room (ER) nursing involves providing care in the ER. ER nurse duties include assessing and treating people who are experiencing a medical emergency, helping to stabilize them, and providing continuous care.
The ER nurse job outlook is growing as the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll on existing ER nurses and more positions become available. ER nurse salaries are trending upward as the demand for these nurses becomes greater. ER nurse requirements are relatively straightforward, requiring only licensure as a nurse. Practically speaking, however, most new ER nurses have at least one year of experience in another clinical area.
Operating room (OR) nurses are nurses who work in the operating room, providing care to patients who are having surgical procedures performed. OR nurse duties may include supporting the surgical team and providing care to patients before and after surgery.
OR nurse requirements are the same as most other types of nursing, requiring only the licensure to work as a nurse. OR nursing is, however, not generally an entry-level nursing position. OR nurse job salaries are generally considered to be on the rise.
Medical Surgical Nurse
Medical surgical (med-surg) nurse jobs are one of the most general types of nursing positions, often providing an ideal option for an entry-level nursing role.
Med-surg nurse duties include caring for patients who are hospitalized for general reasons and who are not in critical condition. Nurses specialized in this type of nursing may obtain a med-surg nurse certification to validate their experience in this area. Like most areas of nursing, the average med-surg nurse’s salary is increasing due to demand. Salaries in this specialty, however, are generally lower than in more advanced nursing specialties.
Intensive care unit (ICU) nurse jobs are among the most specialized nursing positions. ICU nurse responsibilities include caring for patients at their sickest, often only taking one or two patients at a time. These patients require intense, advanced monitoring, making ICU nurse duties dependent on a high level of nursing expertise.
ICU nurse requirements technically only require licensure to practice as a nurse, however, most ICU nurses will have at least a year of nursing experience before working in this specialty. The average ICU nurse’s salary tends to be higher than in other areas of nursing due to the high level of expertise required in these areas of nursing.
School nurse job responsibilities generally involve monitoring the health of students, ensuring that routine treatments are available during school hours, and addressing emergencies that occur.
School nurse requirements are generally basic, as school nursing is more straightforward than many other areas of nursing. School nurse salaries tend to be lower than in many other areas of nursing due to the lower level of responsibility and the lower level of demand for nurses in these positions.
Closing Thoughts On Different Types Of Nursing Jobs
There are many areas of nursing, that offer someone in this career a tremendous amount of opportunity. With the demand for nurses growing each year, nurses have many different career options and ways to build or expand their skills while growing professionally and personally.