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About Nursing Jobs

Nursing jobs are among the most sought-after, highest-paid occupations in healthcare. They include nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners, also collectively referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (or APRNs for short). Advanced practice registered nurses are obliged to provide primary and specialty healthcare and coordinate care for patients.

The three main groups of nurses (APRNs, registered nurses, and nursing assistants and orderlies) have several notable differences. The main difference between an APRN and registered nursing job is that APRNs can make some medical decisions that the latter cannot due to differences in skills and knowledge. 

On the other hand, nursing assistants and orderlies are restricted to activities such as serving meals for patients and helping individuals in wheelchairs move around the facility. Furthermore, individuals with a high school diploma and nursing assistant training may apply for a nursing assistant position, while APRNs require a master’s degree.

The following sections will help individuals who are looking to find out more about the highest paying nursing jobs in healthcare by providing details about the specifications of the jobs, the qualifications, the average salary, the outlook of the job, and the related careers.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs): Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse-Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

What Are the Responsibilities of an APRN?

Duties

  • They collect and file the patients’ symptoms and medical histories.
  • They carry out physical exams.
  • They monitor the equipment in the medical facility.
  • APRNs perform diagnostics and examine test results.
  • They make sure patients get their treatment and medicine.
  • They consult with doctors. 
  • APRNs administer research.

Furthermore, while nursing jobs under this purview usually involve working with physicians, APRNs may also work on their own. Many of them specialize in tending to different groups of patients, such as pregnant women, individuals with mental health problems, and children.

Many of the responsibilities of APRNs are similar to the duties of registered nurses, such as collecting information about a patient’s condition. Nevertheless, APRNs are engaged in many other additional duties such as evaluating test results, diagnosing illnesses or conditions, and treating syndromes. Here are some of the most important types of nursing jobs available to APRNs:

Types of APRNs

Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs)

CRNAs provide patients with anesthesia and care around surgical, obstetrical, and diagnostic procedures. Furthermore, they help patients manage pain, and they assist if there’s an emergency. Nurse anesthetists are also obliged to meet with the patient before surgery and find out whether the patient is taking any medications prior to the surgery or if he or she has any existing allergies or conditions. 

Based on the most important aspect of the nurse anesthetist job description, those in this career make sure that anesthesia is administered in the safest and most effective way possible. Furthermore, they stay with the patient during the procedure and keep a close eye on vital signs and whether more anesthesia is needed.

Nurse-Midwives (CNMs)

The duties of CNMs are different than most others, as they’re primarily trained to provide care to women. Midwife jobs include services for family planning, prenatal care, and different gynecological examinations. Most importantly, CNMs are responsible for the delivery of babies, managing situations during the process of labor (especially when there’s an emergency, such as hemorrhaging), and providing assistance to the medical expert during more difficult births. Since CNMs are highly skilled in the field, they may provide the primary care for newborns and new mothers.

Nurse Practitioners (NPs)

Even though nurse practitioner jobs vary, most of them work alone or with the consultation of a medical doctor. NPs are specially trained to tend to patients and their individual needs, they interpret different laboratory and diagnostic tests, they diagnose diseases or illnesses according to the results, they prescribe the most effective medication, and they’re in charge of developing plans for future treatment. Typically, NPs are responsible for taking care of a specific population of individuals such as adults and seniors, children, or individuals suffering from mental illnesses or psychiatric disorders.

Work Environment 

Injuries and Illnesses

Individuals who are interested in public health nurse jobs need to be aware that even though they’re highly rewarding, these jobs may be seriously demanding in both an emotional and physical way. APRNs usually spend most of their day working on their feet, which may lead to fatigue, back pain, and soreness. Most importantly, APRNs need to be able to move and lift patients, so physical strength is required. 

Furthermore, demanding careers in nursing may expose individuals to other common workplace hazards such as infectious diseases (MRSA, hepatitis B, HIV, tuberculosis), latex allergy (which may cause dermatitis), radiation exposure (this is especially dangerous for individuals working in the ER or radiology department), chemical exposure (certain chemotherapy drugs and different sterilizing agents), and assault (including verbal threats and violence in the workplace).

Work Schedules

Nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and nursing midwife jobs will typically involve a full-time work schedule. Those who are employed in the offices of medical doctors usually work during regular business hours. On the other hand, the APRNs employed in hospitals or other medical facilities usually work in shifts in order to be able to assist patients at all times. Since emergency rooms are always open, a nurse practitioner job may require working during the day, during the evening, or from the period between midnight and 8 a.m. (also known as graveyard shifts).

It’s important for APRNs to be stable individuals who don’t mind always being on their feet; unfortunately, emergency rooms are unpredictable, and nurses need to be constantly on the alert in case their services are needed. According to the midwife job description, this is especially true for individuals who are trained to deliver babies or who work in critical care, as they may be needed at any time of the day. As childbirth is highly unpredictable, midwives may need to be ready at any time for assistance during a 24-hour period. Nevertheless, a midwife’s shift may either be extremely busy or it may go by without a single admission.

How to Become an APRN

Important Qualities

Nurses looking for jobs need to possess certain qualities when applying for employment. The most important qualities you may have (or may need to improve on) are the following: 

  • APRNs must have strong communication skills in order to fully understand the patient and make sure there are no misunderstandings.
  • They need critical-thinking skills to be able to confidently assess a patient’s condition and determine the proper course of action.
  • They should be compassionate, remaining kind and caring toward patients who are experiencing significant emotional stress or are in pain.
  • They need to be resourceful so that the answers needed can be found as quickly as possible.
  • APRNs need to be detail oriented and have excellent leadership skills.

Nurse-midwife jobs are especially demanding, as they may require the ability to cope with stressful situations such as a risky childbirth.

Education

Individuals pursuing any of these career options need to keep in mind that APRN jobs require a master’s degree from an accredited program. Individuals who go through these programs are fully equipped with both clinical experience and classroom education. Nevertheless, the coursework will vary depending on the type of nursing career paths, but the courses in physiology, pharmacology, and anatomy are all mandatory.

In addition, it’s better for an individual looking to become an APRN to have some kind of background in science. They also need an obligatory registered nursing license prior to seeking education in any of the advanced practice roles. 

A bachelor’s degree in nursing is preferred among candidates who decide to enroll in the majority of APRN programs. Nevertheless, there are schools that provide programs in registered nursing careers on the condition that the person has an associate’s diploma or a degree in nursing. Furthermore, in case an individual failed to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing but has one in a similar health science field, the individual may enroll in a graduate-level program specifically designed for this scenario. 

Even though the most frequent entry-level form of education is a master’s degree, APRNs can pursue a higher degree such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice. In order to pursue nurse anesthetist jobs, one needs to have at least 12 months of clinical experience as a requirement to be accepted into an accredited curriculum.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Nurse anesthetist, nurse-midwife, and nurse practitioner positions are recognized by most states in America. A registered nursing license is mandatory in states that recognize APRN roles, as well as a completed accredited graduate-level curriculum. Furthermore, individuals considering these nurse jobs must go through a national certification exam.

The requirements for an APRN are standardized by the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation, which proposes that all APRNs must finish a graduate degree from an accredited curriculum. Furthermore, all APRNs must have a primary and a secondary license (which is specific to the different APRN roles), and they must pass a national certification exam.

In order to succeed in a nursing career and be able to use an APRN title, most states require the individual to have a certification. The reason behind this is because the certification acts as proof of proficiency in an APRN role, and it’s a mandatory element for obtaining state licensure.

The National Certification Examination is offered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists who, once certified and registered, are obliged to recertify every four years via the Continued Professional Certification Program. 

A nurse-midwife certification is offered by the American Midwifery Certification Board, and these individuals are required to recertify every five years via the Certificate Maintenance Program. 

Finally, nurse practitioners can obtain certification from different professional institutions such as the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Advancement

There are many ways individuals in nursing careers can advance in the field; many APRNs engage in administrative or managerial roles (managing staff or other nurses), while some continue in academia. In fact, APRNs with a PH.D. may be able to work on their very own research or choose to join a research group.

Pay

Nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners belong to some of the best paying nursing jobs, and they’re believed to earn anywhere between $103,770 and $167,950 in terms of median annual wages. Furthermore, the lowest 10% of workers earned less than $80,670, whilst the highest 10% earned $182,750 or more. The median annual wages in May 2018 for APRNs were $167,950 for nurse anesthetists, $107,030 for nurse practitioners, and $103,770 for nurse-midwives

When it comes to the top industries, the numbers were different: APRNs working in either state, local, or private hospitals earned $120,540, those in outpatient care centers earned $115,720, those in physicians’ offices earned $111,440, and APRNs who worked in state, local, or private educational services earned $104,310. 

The general earning potential of travel nursing jobs depends on several important factors, but generally, fast-response postings are the ones that pay the most. Typically, the national median pay for APRN travel nurses is $110,930 per year or $53.33 per hour. San Francisco is considered one of the highest-paying cities in America, and it’s believed that this is due to the high cost of living.

Job Outlook 

It’s expected that the general employment of APRNs will grow by 26% from 2018 to 2028. These numbers show that employment in different types of nursing jobs will grow at a faster rate than any other occupation. Nevertheless, since nurse-midwives represent a tiny portion of this industry, there will only be around 1,000 new jobs in the following 10 years. This growth can be explained by a projected drastic increase in the need for healthcare services—such as the demand for healthcare services for senior citizens.

The three previously discussed nursing career options often involve performing services offered by physicians. This means APRNs will be needed in different team-based models of care, especially in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and clinics. In addition, advanced practice registered nurses will be required for taking care of the baby boomer population and the variety of intricate conditions needing medical care. According to the nursing job outlook, as APRNs are becoming more acknowledged by the public as experts in primary healthcare, they’re being granted permission to perform a great deal more services than before.

Job Prospects

Since there are many medically underserved rural areas and inner cities, the demand for APRNs is at an all-time high. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there’s an expected 19% growth in the field of family nurse practitioner jobs by 2020, which is significantly above the national average. 

It’s also believed that there will be an even higher demand in academics in the following years, particularly for nurses with a Ph.D. This future trend may be explained by aging staff members who will be retiring in the upcoming years.

Registered Nurses

What Are the Responsibilities of Registered Nurses?

Duties

According to the registered nurse job description, registered nurses usually are responsible for the following:

  • They evaluate a patient’s condition.
  • They record his or her medical history and take note of the symptoms.
  • RNs observe the patient and document the observations.
  • They consult and work together with physicians and other professionals in the healthcare facility.
  • RNs monitor and operate medical equipment.
  • They perform diagnostic examinations and evaluate the results.
  • They teach patients how to cope with conditions. 

The majority of individuals who secure a registered nurse job will work in teams with medical doctors and various other specialists in a healthcare facility. Also, there are registered nurses who are in charge of supervising nursing assistants, home health aides, and licensed practical nurses.

Types of Registered Nurses

There are a couple of different types of registered nurses, and each works in different areas or with different categories of patients. According to the registered nursing jobs list, there are several possible job positions:

  • Addiction nurses – They care for patients who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances.
  • Cardiovascular nurses – They care for patients who have had cardiovascular surgery or who suffer from heart disease.
  • Critical care nurses – They provide care to patients with severe illnesses or injuries.
  • Genetic nurses – They provide counseling, screening, and care for individuals with different genetic illnesses.
  • Neonatology nurses – This registered nurse career covers care for newborns.
  • Nephrology nurses – They provide care for individuals suffering from hypertension, diabetes, alcohol abuse, etc.
  • Public health nurses – They run blood drives and various outreach programs, and they manage chronic diseases.
  • Rehabilitation nurses – They provide care for permanently or temporarily disabled patients.
  • Clinical nurse specialists – They’re considered a type of APRN, and they provide care in various nursing specialties like pediatrics or psychiatric mental health.

Work Environment

Workplaces for registered nurses range from physicians’ offices to outpatient care centers, and there are even several registered nurse jobs from home. Registered nurses who choose to be in-home nurses or medical caregivers may provide medical help to patients in the coziness of their own home.

Furthermore, many nurses choose to work in the military, either in military hospitals, clinics, or bases. These individuals may work in a foreign country, or they stay at home. The downside is that military nurses may be exposed to dangerous environments such as war zones, not to mention the natural disasters some nurses might be exposed to.

Interested nurses may also apply for registered nurse telecommuting jobs, in case freedom and flexibility are priorities. Thanks to the newest technology, registered nurses can freely choose to work at home by providing online services to patients, or they can oversee and review nursing staff.

Injuries and Illnesses 

If you’re interested in a career in nursing, it’s important to know that the job requires a high level of stamina, because there’s a lot of bending, standing, walking, and stretching involved every day. A registered nurse job also requires a fair amount of physical strength, as the nurses frequently need to move or lift patients. 

Furthermore, registered nurses are commonly exposed to certain infectious illnesses, and they may also come in contact with dangerous substances or drugs. Hence, you should know that registered nurses must follow strict guidelines to protect themselves against different illnesses and dangers, like unforeseen needle sticks, harmful chemicals, or even radiation.

Work Schedules

All registered nurse jobs involve working in shifts in order to successfully cover every hour of the day. It’s also important to know that registered nurses may need to work overnight, on weekends, or during holidays such as Christmas. Additionally, many RNs need to be on call and available on the shortest notice possible. Nevertheless, individuals who work in other facilities such as schools and offices may only need to work during regular business hours.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

Important Qualities 

Individuals interested in registered nurse careers need to be aware of the most important qualities that make an extraordinary nurse. These are the following:

  • They need good critical-thinking skills to be able to quickly diagnose patients and determine the best possible solution.
  • RNs must have strong communication skills to be able to effectively communicate with patients and fully understand and assess the condition of their health.
  • They need to show compassion and be kind to their patients.
  • Registered nurses’ careers require precision in order to make sure that patients get the best treatments and medicines on time, so they must be detail oriented.
  • They need to be strong, emotionally stable individuals, and they should be able to handle suffering, stress, and emergencies.
  • Because they’re on their feet most of the day, they need physical stamina.

Education

Courses such as physiology, microbiology, anatomy, nutrition, psychology, and chemistry (as well as the liberal arts) are present in all nursing education curriculums, and students usually need around four years to complete a BSN program. Those interested in a registered nurse’s career will need 2–3 years to complete an Associate Degree in Nursing. Of course, supervised clinical experience is provided in all of the programs. Most importantly, a bachelor’s degree (or higher) is mandatory for different positions such as consulting, teaching, and administration.

In general, individuals who’ve attained any of the three main types of educational degrees (diploma, associate’s, or bachelor’s) directly qualify, as a new graduate, for registered nurse jobs that are entry-level. Furthermore, there are different accelerated programs for individuals who want to start working as soon as possible: combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, as well as master’s degree programs in the field of nursing. 

In addition, clinical nurse specialists are obliged to have a master’s degree in the field of nursing and a minimum of one year of work experience as a registered nurse. A doctoral degree is obligatory for clinical nurse specialists who want to conduct research.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Qualified individuals applying for nursing jobs in the US need to know that a nursing license is mandatory in all areas. In order to attain a license, nurses have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination and graduate from a certified nursing program. 

Registered nurses may also need to pass a criminal background inspection, but this may vary in different states. Certification is also an important component in RN careers as it demonstrates devotion to a higher standard. Different types of registered nursing jobs may also demand certification in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Advancement 

Fortunately, an excellent performance record and continued education can make room for a registered nurse to advance in the field. Frequently, individuals who excel in their position may be promoted to a higher one or move to a different setting. Nurses are able to get promoted from assistant clinical nurse manager, head nurse, or charge nurse to positions such as director of nursing or chief nursing officer. 

Furthermore, there are many alternative careers for registered nurses such as nurse case manager, nurse manager, nurse educator, public health nurse, and clinical nurse manager. Other registered nurses may become one of the three types of advanced practice registered nurses: nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, or nurse practitioners.

Pay 

Even though being a registered nurse is demanding and time consuming, the salary is not all that bad! For example, part-time registered nurse jobs in the United States earn $32.01 per hour or $62,426 per year. In fact, the numbers show that the median annual wage for registered nurses in May 2018 was $71,730. 

When it comes to the median annual wage in the top industries, registered nurses working in the government earned $78,390. Those working in either state, local, or private hospitals earned $73,650. Meanwhile, registered nurses in state, local, or private educational services earned $61,850.

Job Outlook 

The registered nurse job outlook looks to be positive, and it’s believed that employment rates in this field will grow by 12% from 2018 to 2028. This growth can be explained by the need for healthcare services, especially in the elderly population. Registered nurses will be required to take care of patients who suffer from different chronic illnesses, such as obesity and diabetes. 

Furthermore, registered nurses’ job duties may include caring for patients in residential care facilities or from the comfort of the patient’s home. The growth in RN employment rates should grow rapidly in outpatient care centers, such as centers that provide rehabilitation, chemotherapy, and surgical procedures.

Job Prospects

Due to the rapid employment growth in the nursing field and the fact that many workers will soon retire, it’s believed that the job opportunities for registered nurses will be excellent in the upcoming years. However, for registered nurses, the job outlook proves to be competitive, as the number of new nurses entering the workforce has increased recently. 

Typically, registered nurses who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing have a much brighter future in this career than those who do not. Furthermore, it’s preferred that applicants already have some work experience or a certification.

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

What Are the Responsibilities of Assistants and Orderlies?

Duties

Individuals interested in nursing assistant jobs need to know that nursing assistants typically help patients with daily activities and basic care, like the following:

  • They bathe and clean patients.
  • They help patients dress and use the toilet.
  • They move patients between wheelchairs and beds.
  • They listen to patients’ health issues and report to the nurses.
  • They measure temperature and blood pressure.
  • They help patients eat meals.

Meanwhile, the following outlines most orderlies’ responsibilities:

  • They push patients’ wheelchairs and help patients move around.
  • They clean the facilities and medical equipment.
  • They stock supplies and change linens.

Work Environment 

Based on the nursing assistant job description, nursing assistants and orderlies are most commonly employed in nursing care facilities or hospitals. Furthermore, retirement communities and home healthcare services require skilled nursing assistants and orderlies.

Injuries and Illnesses 

According to the statistics on illnesses and injuries, nursing assistants and orderlies show the highest rates of all professions. In fact, these employees need to be trained properly in order to minimize the risk of an injury.

Work Schedules 

Certified nursing assistant and orderly jobs require employees to work full time and be available at all hours of the day. Furthermore, these employees usually need to work overnight, during weekends, and on holidays.

How to Become a Nursing Assistant or Orderly

Important Qualities

Nursing assistants and orderlies need to possess these qualities to thrive at work:

  • They must have excellent communication skills.
  • They should display compassion, kindness, and patience.
  • Their position demands physical stamina and endurance.

Education

Nurses looking for jobs in the field of nursing assistants and orderlies are obliged to complete a certified education program that teaches the basic principles of the profession as well as supervised clinical work. Individuals may find programs such as these in high school, community college, or technical school, as well as in a hospital or nursing home. Furthermore, nursing assistant applicants generally need to complete basic training, where they’ll learn about their employer’s procedures and specific policies. Orderlies, on the other hand, need a high school diploma and on-the-job training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registration

According to the certified nursing assistant job description, nursing assistants need to take a competency exam after finishing an education program. By passing the exam, these individuals may use titles based on the state they live in. Nursing assistants who want to work in a nursing home need to be on the state registry. On the other hand, orderlies don’t require a license, only a basic life support certification.

Advancement 

The employment of future nursing assistants and orderlies is projected to grow 9% and 5%, respectively, from 2018 to 2028. Both nursing jobs’ growth rates may again be explained by the rising elderly population and the need for employees who will provide care for these patients.

Pay 

The median annual wage for nursing assistants was $28,540 in 2018, whereas the median annual wage for orderlies was $28,060 in the same year. The highest median annual wages for nursing assistants in the government was $33,800, whereas for orderlies in ambulatory healthcare services, it was $29,780.

Job Outlook

There are many nursing jobs available for nursing assistants and orderlies in different healthcare facilities. For example, skilled individuals will be needed to take care of senior patients in nursing homes. Due to reductions in government funding, patients in nursing homes may have an issue paying for care in a facility. As a result, the need for home care is at an all-time high, making it possible for skilled individuals to apply for nursing jobs from home.

Job Prospects 

Individuals seeking a job as a nursing assistant or orderly are in luck because many are leaving the profession due to the high physical and emotional demands. Furthermore, the low pay is a major factor in many workers leaving or retiring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest-paid nursing job?

The top three are the following: certified registered nurse anesthetist, general nurse practitioner, and gerontological nurse practitioner. Certified registered nurse anesthetists earn around $133,000 per year, general nurse practitioners earn around $97,990, and gerontological nurse practitioners earn a median annual wage of $95,070. Nursing assistants and orderlies belong among the lowest paying jobs in nursing, at $28,540 a year.

What are the different types of nursing jobs?

There are many different types of nurses in the nursing field, but some of them are in higher demand than others. The most common types of nurses are as follows:

  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Travel nurses
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Intensive care unit registered nurses
  • Emergency room nurses
  • Operating room nurses
  • Home health nurses
  • Nurse case managers
  • Clinical nurse specialists
  • Telemetry nurses
  • Staff nurses

Where can RNs work besides hospitals?

Even though registered nurses typically work in hospitals, there are many other possibilities for ambitious individuals. For example, nurse health coaches are registered nurses or licensed practical nurses who work for big corporations or insurance companies. Furthermore, hospice nurses usually travel to patients’ homes, whereas public health nurses are employed in different government offices.

What are the least stressful nursing jobs?

Even though all jobs in nursing are highly demanding, both physically and mentally, some are less or more stressful than others. For example, nurse educators are among the least stressful jobs available in the field. In addition, nurse bloggers, clinic nurses, travel nurses (they may travel the world!), school nurses, nurse administrators, occupational health nurses, and summer camp nurses are all considered to be less stressful nursing jobs.