What Kind of Nurse Are You?

Did you want to be a superhero when you were a child? While the Avengers probably will not be calling, you can still be a bonafide superhero. All you have to do is become a nurse. 

Nursing has been rated as the most trusted profession for the last 20 years, according to a Gallup poll. COVID has made our respect for nurses even stronger. They truly show the strength and fortitude of a superhero every day.  

The need for registered nurses (RN) is expected to grow 9% by 2030. The need for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) is projected to also grow by 9% and nursing assistants by 8% over the same period. We need more superheroes now and in the future. 

All nursing jobs require compassion, empathy, emotional stability, strong communication skills, critical thinking skills, attention to detail, and flexibility.  But not all jobs require the same schooling or experience. Some nursing positions can be started almost right out of high school, while others require years of college education. This blog will help you sort it all out. 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

CNAs go through a 4 to 12-week training program that includes classroom and clinical work. Once the training program is over, students take a certification exam.  The exam and the number of weeks you train will depend on the state you live in. Once you’ve received your certification, you are ready to work. 

As a CNA, you will assist patients with activities of daily living (ADL) and other care needs under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).  You may work in a hospital, a long-term care facility, a rehabilitation center, or an adult daycare.  

CNAs are sometimes called Nursing Assistants, Patient Care Assistants (PCA), or Nurse’s Aides.  While you may work with Medical Assistants, those job duties are slightly different, focusing on patient assessment instead of direct patient care.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median average annual salary for a CNA in 2020 was $30,830 per year or $14.82 per hour. 

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

LPNs work in many of the same types of facilities as CNAs. They will assist both doctors and nurses with patient care. Their tasks will include more medical care than ADLs. LPNs must complete 12 months of schooling and clinical training. LPNs are also required to pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-P).

Daily tasks include providing medical attention and care under supervision, administering medications, collecting data and vital signs from patients, and communicating information to the patient’s medical team. The LPN does not decide on a plan of care, nor evaluates the data they’ve collected. 

Due to our aging population, there is a growing need for LPNs in long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, residential treatment centers, and hospices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for an LPN in 2020 was $48,820 per year or $23.47 per hour. 

Registered Nurse (RN)

There are three ways to become an RN. The difference in these options is the level of schooling an RN earns. All RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), regardless of their degree.

 RN with an Associate Degree (ADN)

An ADN is an RN who has earned an Associate Degree in Nursing. This is an 18-month to a two-year commitment that will train you to work with patients of any age and in a variety of work environments.  

With an ADN, you can provide hands-on patient care. You are most likely the medical professional who interacts directly with patients and their families.  You will administer medications and monitor symptoms. You will consult with doctors on treatments. You may also provide education on a patient’s diagnosis and how to improve their health. RNs are integral to providing quality patient care in most medical settings. 

61% of RNs work in hospitals, and 18% work in doctors’ offices, home healthcare, or outpatient care. 7% work in nursing and residential care facilities. The average ADN salary is $70,820 a year, or $34.05 an hour.  If you are just starting, your salary may be lower but as your work experience grows, so will your salary. Even if you start at a lower salary, many employers will augment your salary with benefits and perks, including paid time off, sick leave, tuition reimbursement, and childcare.

RN with a Bachelor Degree (BSN)

If you earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) you will find yourself in even more demand. This is a four-year degree in nursing. The degree includes two years of general education courses and then another two years of nursing classes and clinical rotations. Many healthcare facilities require an RN with a BSN for all nursing positions.  The American Association of Colleges of Nurses says that 43.7% of healthcare facilities require all new hires have a BSN degree.  78.6% indicate a strong preference that new hires have earned a BSN.  You can also use your BSN to practice nursing in specialty areas like critical care, addiction treatment, or neonatal. A BSN will also start you on the road to management.

There can be a substantial difference in salary between an SDN and a BSN. First-year BSNs earn an average of $13,000 more per year than ADNs. The median annual wage for BSN nurses was $75,330 in May 2020. As with ADNs, employers may sweeten your income with lucrative benefits and differentials. 

Many new opportunities for BSNs come from our growing aging population, which will require more medical care. There will also be an increasing need for BSNs as wellness and preventive care become hot topics in our post-COVID culture. As a result, the need for BSNs is expected to jump by 19% as compared to an 11% average growth rate for all other occupations.

RN with a Master of Science (MSN)

Some nursing specializations require an MSN and some prestigious hospitals and healthcare organizations give preference to candidates who have their MSN. If you want to focus on a certain type of nursing, you should earn an MSN. These specialty fields include nurse practitioners, nurse educators, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. 

An MSN can expect a significantly higher salary than a typical RN. For example, nurse anesthetists earned a median salary of $183,580 as of September 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is more than double an average RN’s salary.  Nurse administrators earn an average of $89,000 per year, and nurse educators earn $77,000. 

You can earn an MSN part-time through an online course or in an in-person accelerated program, and you can customize your curriculum to reflect your goal of working in a specialized role.

RN with a Doctor of Nursing (DNP)

The DNP is the highest level of education a nurse can earn. DNPs are eligible for nursing leadership roles focused on administration. You can go from a BSN to a DNP with a curriculum that takes three to four years of full-time coursework. An MSN to DNP program takes about one to two years. If you are learning part-time, it will take 2 to 3 years.

With a DNP you will have the ability and knowledge to influence the way healthcare is delivered at your place of employment through organizational leadership, health policy implementation, and direct patient care. Some DNPs still offer direct patient care focused on managing, assessing, and evaluating care. If you want to offer direct patient care, you must pass the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certification Exam (APRN). You may also be required to take a specialty certification exam. 

What about a PRN?

The acronym PRN is a Latin phrase commonly used in the medical field that stands for “pro re neta,” which translates to “as the need arises.” A PRN is an RN who does not work for one healthcare organization and instead works wherever needed. You are primarily filling staffing shortages, so the hours and the location where you work can vary from week to week.  PRNs have been critical to keeping hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other medical organizations running during the pandemic. They picked up the slack when nurses were out sick or when medical facilities were overwhelmed with patients.  PRNs will continue to be a critical short-term solution to the nursing shortages forecasted for the next decade.

When pursuing work as a PRN nurse, you can apply to work in a temporary nurse pool at a hospital or you can work with a medical staffing agency like Desert Medical Careers to find job opportunities. 

In fact, no matter where you are in your nursing career, we can help you find the perfect job. Our agency has strong working relationships with many medical organizations around the state, and we can find you the best position with the best benefits and a flexible schedule. Call us and we’ll get started right away.

If you’d like to be placed in a healthcare position that’s the best fit for you, contact Desert Medical Careers at (602) 468-6300 or fill out the form below to get contacted by a DMC expert.

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