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If you want to pursue a career as a nurse, perhaps the first position you think of it as a registered nurse. However, jobs in nursing are much more far-reaching than just that of a registered nurse. Let’s take a look at several sectors of nursing employment.

Registered nurse

Again, this is probably the first job people think of when they think of the word “nurse.” And indeed, this is the largest sector of nursing — perhaps even the largest in healthcare itself — by far.

Registered nurses work closely with patients to educate, treat, and perform diagnostic tests. They perform in a variety of settings and can assume just about every specialization.

If you want to become a R.N., you will be required to graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the national licensing exam, the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination).

Licensed practical nurse

A licensed practical nurse, or LPN, works under the supervision of registered nurses or doctors. These nurses have the job of doing basic patient care and monitoring patient characteristics and vital signs like temperature, weight, blood pressure, and so on. Licensed practical nurses must also pass the NCLEX for practical nurses (National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse).

Nurse practitioners

Nurse practitioners have gotten their R.N. degrees and have also completed additional advanced degree program work, such as getting a masters degree. Many nurse practitioners do jobs of doctors in nonemergency situations. Because of their advanced training and degrees, nurse practitioners are generally paid much better than registered nurses or licensed practical nurses.

Nurse anesthetists

Nurse anesthetists receive significantly more training than other nurse jobs do. To become a certified nurse anesthetist, you must complete a four-year program in nursing or science, must become a licensed registered nurse, and must also gain hands-on experience in environments required by the program you’re in, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, or both organizations.

It costs quite a lot to become a nurse anesthetist as compared to other nursing employment, but nursing scholarships can help offset the costs. In addition, nurse anesthetists must carry malpractice insurance, just as doctors must.

Which is the best nursing career for you?

If you want to become a nurse because you want to directly take care of patients, be advised that the higher you go in the career hierarchy, the less in general you’ll be interacting with patients directly. However, again, these more advanced nursing jobs also pay better and in general are less physically taxing than either licensed practical nurse or registered nurse careers are, so the choice is up to you.

If you’re still unsure which sector of nursing you should get into, remember that you don’t have to decide immediately. For example, if you start as a registered nurse, that will be a prerequisite for many other nursing careers you may decide you want to pursue. For example, you’ll need to be a registered nurse already, with additional education besides, in order to become a nurse practitioner. So you can start with a basic nursing degree and move up as you go, as you want to take on more responsibility and specialize more in your career.

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