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The Opportunities in a Nursing Career and Demand for Quality Nurses

Aug 17, 2007
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment among nurses will grow faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for quality nurses continues to escalate. Much faster-than-average growth will be driven by technological advances in patient care, which permit a greater number of medical problems to be treated, and by an increasing emphasis on preventive care. In addition, the number of older people, who are much more likely than younger people to need nursing care, is projected to grow rapidly.

More and more sophisticated procedures, once performed only in hospitals, are being performed in physicians' offices and in outpatient care centers, such as freestanding ambulatory surgical and emergency centers. Accordingly, employment is expected to grow much faster than average in these places as health care in general expands.

Hospital nursing is just one of the many areas where nurses practice. Examples of other practice settings include home care, private practice, public health, extended care centers, clinics, offices, schools, military service, corporations, health-related industries, hospice, occupational settings, and health and wellness centers.

The profession of nursing offers a wide variety of specialties. From pediatrics to geriatrics, nursing impact is felt across the lifespan. Here is a sampling of specialty areas from which you can choose: Ambulatory care, Burn care, Developmental disabilities, Emergency, Geriatrics, Home care, Intensive care unit (cardiovascular, medical, neonatal and surgical), Medical telemetry, Mother/baby care, Oncology, Operating room, Pediatrics, Psychiatric nursing, Recovery, Rehabilitation, Renal (diabetes and dialysis), Research, School nursing.

Nursing school requires a high school diploma and a sound academic standing in English, algebra, chemistry, biology and psychology. An understanding of computers and technology is a great asset. Leadership and organizational skills are equally important. You will do well in nursing if you can combine these skills and characteristics with a commitment to easing human suffering and a capacity to respond quickly in emergency situations. Getting along with people and good communications skills also are important since nurses relate to people from all backgrounds.

The nursing courses include classroom instruction and supervised clinical hands-on experience in health care settings. Students need good study habits and the ability to analyze and think through problems to be successful in nursing school. At the end of the nursing program, graduates must pass the state board licensure examination to become licensed as a registered nurse.

When studying, nursing is organized into four branches. During the first year of your course you will be introduced to these as part of the Common Foundation Program. In the second and third years you will focus on the branch you choose.

Adult nurses are primarily concerned with nursing sick and injured adults back to health in both hospital and community settings. What makes adult nursing such a challenge is the sheer diversity of situations you will have to respond to. You will be working with people who have acute and long-term illnesses. The mark of the professional is the ability to observe and assess what is happening with a patient at any one time and to select the most effective response.

It's a demanding job with serious responsibility. In return, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you make a real difference in reducing suffering and promoting the health of people in your care.

Children's nurses care for sick children and provide support to their families. Children's nursing can take you from intensive care of a new-born baby with breathing problems to looking after a six-foot-tall adolescent whose leg has been broken in a soccer match.

The onset of symptoms can be sudden and extreme. Because children are still growing, the impact of the illness or injury on their development has to be taken into account. A rich mix of emotions often surrounds child illness such as panic, anxiety, anger, powerlessness, guilt. Children's nurses work closely with patients' families as part of the caring process.

Mental Health Nurses care for people with mental health problems in hospitals and in the community, helping patients to overcome their ill health, or to come to terms with it, so they can lead as normal a life as possible. The one-to-one personal relationships that mental health nurses form with people are at the heart of the care process.

Mental Health Nurses have to identify if and when a person may be at risk of harming themselves or others. You'll therefore find yourself liaising professionally with a wide range of other services including social workers, police, charities, local government and housing officials.

As a mental health nurse you are likely to be dealing with people of all ages and from a wide range of backgrounds. As your career develops you may choose to specialize in areas such as drugs and alcohol misuse or working with offenders. You could also become involved in education, research, or management roles.

Learning Disability Nurses work with people with learning disabilities to help them become as independent as possible. People with a learning disability can struggle to cope with aspects of everyday, independent living.

The distinctive contribution of learning disability nurses is their concern to influence behaviors and lifestyles that promote health and well-being for individuals, and their families and careers. You will be working in a wide variety of settings: people's homes, their family homes, residential care, schools, workplaces and leisure. As your career unfolds you can maintain this broad spread of activity, or you could choose to specialize in an area such as sensory disability, education, or management of learning disability services.

The main challenge is to remain constantly sensitive and alert in how you relate to people, helped by new technology tools such as sensory stimulation and interactive learning systems. Adaptability and resourcefulness in very varied work settings becomes second nature. Progress can be slow, but seemingly small things do mean a great deal. You are increasing people self-confidence and sense of worth, and enabling them to share more fully in the challenges and pleasures of living.

Today's nurses can now be found in professional venues once thought impossible. Nurses influence legislation, change health care delivery systems, write and publish, educate about disease prevention and health promotion, and participate on boards of directors.
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Freelance writer for over eleven years.

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