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Get to know more about careers in nursing

career in nursingNurses play an important part in keeping our health care system running smoothly. They are filled with passion, empathy, and compassion. And, on top of that, they are skilled professionals, prepared to face challenges and work through adversities. It’s quite safe to say that if it weren’t for them, we would probably be lost.

If you are considering a career in nursing, it’s important to be aware that there are a number of job opportunities and different roles for nurses. Don’t be mistaken in thinking that the only possibility is to work in a hospital doing night shifts and dealing with emergencies. The array of roles for nurses might surprise you.

It’s a fact that nursing is not the easiest degree to earn, and that might scare some people before even starting. But once you get your foot in the door, you will realize that the time you spend getting your degree will be worth it — not only professionally, but because nursing is one of the most rewarding careers a person can choose. You will be helping people and making an impact on their lives on a daily basis.

For starters, it’s important to learn about the basics before diving in. Keep reading to learn more about nursing and the variety of options you have to choose from.

What does a nurse do?

As a nurse, you can expect some general tasks, such as:

  • Monitoring patient care.
  • Passing on health conditions to patients and family members.
  • Providing treatments and offering emotional support.

However, your main responsibilities will be dictated by your chosen specialty and will also vary from day to day, depending on the cases you will encounter. An important point is to have the main characteristics of your specialty aligned to your personality, as they are a crucial part of being a nurse.

To thrive as a nurse, you must be detail-oriented, comfortable working with the human body, have the ability to work and succeed in a fast-pace environment, and with unpredictable work schedules. You must also have confidence when safeguarding the health of others, and be able to communicate with everyone — especially talking about sensitive information and patient conditions.

Nurses are a true asset to the health care system, and in this position you will be able to give back to the community and help others in need.

Career options for nurses

If you decide to start a career as a nurse, you will have an array of options to choose from once entering the work world. The majority of nurses are part of a team, and some nurses will become supervisors as they gain more experience (nursing assistants or home health aides).

To give you a better idea of how many options you will have if you choose to become a nurse, here is a list of 12 nursing jobs based on demand and salary. Keep reading to discover the possibilities and which career path might be better for you.

  1. Transplant Nurse Coordinator

For those who would love to be part of a surgical team and play a critical part when saving the lives of patients, a role as a transplant nurse coordinator can be the perfect fit. Deadlines are very important in this area of nursing. For that reason, transplant nurse coordinators have to be organized and meet or beat deadlines.

A transplant nurse coordinator uses technology and current information to successfully transfer organs between patients.

  1. Nursing Services Instructor

This is a great combination of a career in education and health care. As a nursing services instructor, you will be teaching nurses new methods and techniques. You will be a critical part of the nursing team, since you will provide other nurses with instruction and training.

For those who love to teach, this can be the perfect role.

  1. Home Nurse Practitioner

As a home nurse practitioner, you will be dealing with patients in the gray area. They are not sick enough to stay at the hospital, but not yet healthy enough to be at home alone. Those patients require care and close attention.

People who thrive as home nurse practitioners are usually very professional and good communicators. They must talk with patient’s relatives about health conditions, care methods, and health details on a regular basis.

  1. Industrial Health Head Nurse

This is a completely different setting for nurses to work in, and not often thought of. You will be working in a company teaching precautions and providing care for employees.

This job is crucial for all industrial settings, especially because most of those settings can be dangerous.

  1. Recovery Room Staff Nurse

The title is self-explanatory; you will assist patients recovering from care. Some might say that the recovery is as important as the care itself. That means the recovery room staff nurse plays an essential part in health care.

Recovery room staff nurses must know the procedures patients have been through in order to provide the necessary care. Some patients might not be allowed to eat or drink water after procedures; others might not be allowed to walk. It’s critical that the nurse is aware of the exact condition of the patient, so the recovery happens fast and completely.

  1. Occupational Health Staff Nurse

In simpler terms, you are the equivalent of a school nurse for a company, without summer vacation. You will be responsible for the care of employees in a company setting. You may be asked to train staff on simple procedures in case of emergencies, and also be of help if someone is feeling ill.

  1. Oncology Staff Nurse

As an oncology staff nurse, you will be able to provide support for those going through cancer treatment. This role can be emotionally draining, but it’s a very rewarding job.

Oncology staff nurses must be compassionate, emotionally prepared for the job, and well trained with the required skills to properly help those with cancer. Communication is also an important skill to have, since you will be explaining details of treatment for patients and loved ones.

  1. Phone Triage Staff Nurse

This is the perfect role for people who enjoy extra suspense and mystery to an already intense situation. A phone triage staff nurse will rely on listening skills and giving orders to people on the other end of the line.

This can be a very exciting job that requires calm and the ability to deal with crisis and extreme situations.

  1. Geriatrics Staff Nurse

Geriatrics staff nurses work with senior citizens, providing care and assistance. The work environment is slow-paced, and patience is an important trait for this job.

  1. Burn Unit Nurse

This is a very specialized area and can be potentially depressing, though exciting, when you are able to meet a patient’s desired results.

A career as burn unit nurse also can be very rewarding, considering you will be helping people recover from traumatic experiences.

  1. Nursing Home Head Nurse

Nursing home head nurses still work with the elderly, but in a different aspect. They overview care and regulations as a top priority.

If you are a natural leader and enjoy being in charge, this position will be great for you.

  1. School Nurse

Being a school nurse may not bring in the biggest bucks, but it brings a high reward. Working with children is fun, and being able to help them is even better. Plus, you will follow a school schedule, and who doesn’t love a summer free of work?

Education: A must-have to become a nurse

To become a nurse you must receive a proper education. But don’t be scared if people say that nursing is a difficult program. If you are enthusiastic about helping people, the challenge will be worth it.

In order to get a proper education, it is critical to choose a program and school that is right for you. You must pick a school with suitable class sizes, enabling you to succeed and respecting your preferences. Usually, small size classes are better for student engagement and participation, allowing discussions to happen and experiences to be shared.

Look into clinical rotations to be sure you can experience a variety of specialties that will help you pick a career direction when job hunting. Getting hands-on experience is a great learning tool and leaves a lasting impression, aiding in your specialty decision. Due to the enormous amount of specialties available to nurses, many are required to earn specific education or certifications.

More importantly, review the school’s accreditation and NCLEX pass rates. Accreditation indicates the school and program meet the standards of education, and NCLEX pass rates offer insight on how well the program prepares you to be a nurse. It is extremely vital to attend a school with up-to-date accreditation and proper preparation.

Having a good education will avoid any road bumps when applying for jobs and working in the field. You are treating real people, and there are not any do-overs.


At Northwestern College you will find a nursing degree that prepares you to work in all roles available for nurses. The nursing curriculum at Northwestern College is designed with the demands of the health care industry in mind. We offer a distinctive, hands-on approach to learning, where students benefit not only from lectures offered by our educators, but also receive practical experience both in and out of the classroom through simulation labs and clinical practice. We provide the kind of well-rounded education that draws from technology, student-focused participation, and employer-recommended tactics. We train you to become more than a nurse — we also train you to become a leader.

Work Life

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical duties you will encounter working as a nurse in any setting are:

  • Reporting patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Overseeing medicines and treatments
  • Creating a schedule for the duration of a patient’s care
  • Observing and analyzing the patient
  • Working with other health care professionals
  • Running tests and interpreting the results
  • Explaining how to cope with illnesses with the patient and loved ones
  • Instructing post-care procedures

As a nurse, you must get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Most of times, nursing is a physical job where you will spend your time walking, running, bending, lifting, and standing.

Make sure you take care of yourself and build up your immune system, because you will consistently be in close contact with sick people. Health care is a round-the-clock job, so be prepared to have to work on weekends and holidays in most settings. But remember, if you would love to be a nurse but can’t give that kind of commitment, you can still find roles at schools or companies that don’t require demanding times.

The more you know

Knowing the job statistics is just as important as knowing your career options. Looking at the numbers, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow an additional 16 percent from 2014 to 2024. This growth is expected due to our large, aging population. With the older population and financial pressures, many patients will be admitted to long-term care facilities or home care treatment. Overall, nursing job prospects are expected to be very prosperous, and if nursing still interests you, start your journey to finding the right fit for your life as a nurse.