Who is a Nurse and How to Become a Nurse: Career Review

Best States for Nurses in America and Their Cost of Living
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Nurses are like the lifestream of every healthcare system. They perform many duties ranging from caring for patients to administering treatment, to communicating with doctors, and checking vital signs. Also, Nurses make up an incredible percentage of the total healthcare workers in the world.

According to the report by WHO in 2020, “59% of all healthcare professionals are nurses and the global workforce of nurses is currently around 28 million” To become successful in this career, you need both a compassionate heart and a thorough understanding of the things involved. 

Surely, the nursing profession is a profitable career, one of the highest-paying professions in the healthcare field with high demand. If you are considering a career in the healthcare sector, Nursing is one lucrative career you want to consider. 

In this article, we discuss “Who is a Nurse” and “What it takes to become a nurse”. Not just that, we will also dive into the different types of nurses in the healthcare sector and their salary expectations. If this sounds like what you need, read on till the end.

How to Become a Nurse – Who is a Nurse?

In simple words, a nurse is a carer who saves lives. Their role is multifaced, not only do they administer care, they ensure patients are carried along through the process of their recovery joy. 

Nurses are therapeutic, they know how to ease the pain of different patients while providing dedicated care at every phase. In America, nursing is recognized as the largest healthcare profession with nearly 5.3 million registered nurses (RNs) nationwide as recorded by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Undoubtedly, in most hospitals, nurses make up 3:1 doctors. This further buttresses the key role nurses play in the healthcare sector. More so, this makes much sense because doctors are often specialists in specific areas whereas nurses are responsible for the overcare of patients before and after diagnosis by doctors. 

This thus explains why some healthcare facilities have the highest pay for nurses because of the delicate care and support they render to patients.

Gone are the days when nurses are referred to as doctors’ handmaids. Some Registered nurses can diagnose and administer prescriptions to patients in the absence of a doctor depending on their level of proficiency. This leads us to the types of nurses in the healthcare industry.

Relevant: Best Cities in the UK for Nurses to Work and Live in 2023

Types of Nurses

There are many different types of nurses, in the nursin profession. These nurses are differentiated by their qualifications and areas of specialization. Yes, like doctors, some nurses are expert caregivers in specific departments. Below are some of the most common types of nurses:

1. Registered nurses (RNs)

A registered nurse is a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing who has passed a national licensing exam like the NCLEX-RN exam and meets all requirements for registered nurses.  Registered nurses are skilled in attending to different needs including administering medications, starting IVs, and providing wound care.

2. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)

Licensed practical nurses are healthcare professionals who are trained and licensed to provide basic nursing care under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) or physicians. They are required to have completed a two-year program in practical nursing and have passed a national licensing exam.  Licensed practical nurses provide basic care, such as taking vital signs, changing dressings, and helping patients with activities of daily living.

3. Nurse Practitioners (NPs)

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have completed graduate-level education and training beyond the requirements for registered nurses (RNs). They have the authority to diagnose, treat, and manage acute and chronic health conditions, as well as provide preventive care and health education to patients of all ages.

3. Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs)

A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced expertise in a specific area of healthcare. They have a master’s degree (and sometimes even a doctorate) in nursing, often with a focus on a particular population (like pediatrics or gerontology) or disease (like oncology or cardiology). 

This additional education and experience enable them to function as experts, educators, consultants, and leaders in their chosen fields. Clinical nurse specialist provides expert care to patients with complex conditions and educates other nurses about their area of specialty.

Other types or categories of nurses include 

  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • NICU Nurse
  • Labor and Delivery Nurse
  • Travel Nurse
  • Neonatal Nurse
  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Ambulatory Nurse
  • School Nurse
  • Nurse Educator

Duties and Responsibilities of Nurses

Since nurses are like the life of every healthcare sector, it is often confusing to identify the specific duties of nurses. So the question, “What do nurses do?” is almost ambiguous to answer. However, it’s important to note that nurses are generally caregivers. 

More so, they play a significant role in the journey of every patient admitted. From evaluating patient’s needs to administering treatment most appropriately, nurses are required to be smart and critical thinkers as the role can be sensitive and demanding.

Consequently, the exact duty of a nurse depends on the type of care assigned and the current state of a patient. 

Below is a list of some of the general duties and responsibilities of different types of nurses.

  • Check vital signs like temperature, heartbeat, blood pressure, and blood sugar level
  • Educate patients on the best care procedures for quick recovery
  • Administer treatment to patients as prescribed by doctors.
  • Provide counseling and consulting sessions on healthcare to patients
  • Collaborate with other healthcare providers and specialists 
  • Take detailed health record history of patients 
  • Provide emotional support to patients and families during the loss of loved ones
  • Collecting test samples from patients 
  • Stay informed with current healthcare medication procedures and treatments

How to Become a Nurse 

Depending on your area of specialization and interest, becoming a nurse could take anything from four months to four years. This is because some nurses are specialists requiring expert knowledge while others offer general care services like auxiliary nurses. 

Furthermore, Aside from the basic degree generally required, employers prefer candidates with higher advanced degrees than those with just a single degree. Consequently, many employers now look for candidates with a bachelor of degree in science (BSN) over other nursing degrees like Registered Nurse (RN) or an associate degree in Nursing. 

Therefore to become a nurse, you must choose the right program that matches your interest, next, research the right nursing degree program and get licensed thereater. 

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to become a nurse:

1. Choose your Educational Path

Right after choosing the type of nursing career or profession you wish to pursue, the next step is to earn a nursing degree. Typically, becoming a nurse requires at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. However, most nurses pursue a formal education in nursing, which can be through various routes such as:

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN): This is a 2-year program offered at community colleges. It provides the basic knowledge and skills needed to become a registered nurse (RN).
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): This is a 4-year program offered at colleges and universities. It offers a more comprehensive education in nursing, including additional coursework in leadership, management, and research.
  • Accelerated Nursing Programs: If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and wish to pursue nursing, you can run an accelerated nursing program with an accredited institution for a period between 1-2 years.
  • Nursing Diploma Programs: These are hospital-based programs that typically take 2-3 years to complete. They are less common nowadays compared to ADN and BSN programs.

2. Apply to Nursing School

Once you’ve chosen a program, complete the application process, which may include submitting transcripts, standardized test scores (such as the SAT or ACT), letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

3. Complete your Nursing Education

Once accepted into a nursing program, complete the required coursework and clinical rotations. Courses typically cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, nursing ethics, and patient care.

4. Get a Licence 

After completing your nursing education, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain licensure as an RN. The exam tests your knowledge and competency to practice safely and effectively as a nurse. Also, note that licensure examinations vary from state to state to ensure, ensure you meet your requirements before sending in your application. 

Here are some common State licensing examinations for nurses 

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
  • National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN)
  • National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

5. Seek Employment or get hands-on Experience

Head knowledge alone will not fix you in the nursing field, you need practical knowledge to secure good employment. Ideally, during your internship or medical posting in the cause of your studies, it is expected you would have gathered enough knowledge to make your efficient in the field, however, if you are not confident in your skills, consider taking up more internships in healthcare facilities to build your efficiency.

More so, when seeking the best place or county to work as a nurse, consider countries with the highest-paying jobs for nurses. For instance, countries like Canada, Australia, and Switzerland need qualified nurses due to an increase in the aged population. 

6. Pursue Advanced Education or Specialization

After becoming a registered nurse, you may pursue advanced education, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), to specialize in a particular area of nursing or advance your career. This all depends on your interest.

Nurses Salary Expectations 

“According to the most recent numbers from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for registered nurses is $81,220.”

Nursing License Map

In the United States, the average salary for a Registered Nurse is $43.66 per hour according to Indeed salaries. Note that the specific salary of nurses divers depending on the specialization, country or state of residence, and level of experience. 

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Conclusion on How to Become a Nurse

Nursing is a noble profession and makes up for one of the highest-paid and in-demand professions in the healthcare industry. Nurses are caregivers who ensure the smooth transition of patients in their care, from illness or whatever the diagnosis to a complete state of health. 

Before you pursue your passion in this profession, ensure you consider the field and type of nurse you want to become as there are different routes involved. You can follow the route for a Registered nurse and get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) and become a nursing assistant. Whichever path you choose, be assured that the nursing profession is one you would enjoy doing.

We wish you success in your career. Don’t forget to check out our catalog for content on nursing and the best countries for nurses. 


  • healthcareers.nhs.uk
  • nursinglicensemap.com
  • gmercyu.edu
  • nursingcenter.com

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