Nurses are registered health professionals tasked with the care, treatment and management of patients within hospitals and other medical facilities. Despite their advanced clinical skills, they work under the direction of doctors, as well as alongside other health professionals. Nurses can specialise in a variety of clinical areas, including emergency medicine, midwifery and intensive care.
Duties and responsibilities
- Provide suitable levels of care and treatment to patients, within their clinical scope
- Administer medication in line with doctor’s recommendations
- Monitor and observe patient behaviour and condition
- Maintain accurate records of patient observations and clinical treatments
- Consult and coordinate with other health professionals as required
- Supervise and manage stock and medication levels
- Perform relevant health governance audits
- Direct, supervise and tutor student and entry-level nurses
- Maintain ongoing education, training and professional development requirements
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
8, 10 or 12-hour shifts
Depending on their role, nurses work in a variety of environments, including hospitals, clinics, care homes, schools, prisons, the military and within the community.
Most work either 8 or 12-hour shifts, although outside of hospital environments, hours are more in line with the traditional Monday to Friday schedule.
As essential emergency staff, they are also required to work nights, weekends and bank holidays.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
BSN or AND degree
Technically, there are three possible routes into nursing, the minimum of which is the Diploma in Nursing. Given its limited scope, however, most nurses opt for either a 2–3 year associate’s degree programme or a comprehensive 4-year bachelor’s degree programme in nursing.
Once you have successfully completed an accredited programme, you will then need to obtain licensure to practise. This is achieved by sitting the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN), a four-part exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
Nurses can specialise within a wide array of clinical fields, including emergency medicine, intensive care, theatres, midwifery, general wards and more, although many of these fields require further training and certification. It is also possible to train as a nurse practitioner, a role that requires a level of clinical autonomy akin to a doctor.
There is also the opportunity to progress in a non-clinical capacity, such as in management, governance or academia, while many nurses return to higher education to advance their studies.