When you decide to become a nurse and as you near graduation, you need to start thinking about the work setting and environment that would work best for you. Each of these settings comes with different roles and responsibilities and this is why thorough research is essential before graduation or when considering which career path to take. This article will look at the most common settings and environments nurses work in – including what might be expected of you – to see which is most appealing to you.
Hospitals are the biggest nurse employers all over the world. Here, nurses can support or offer medical, psychiatric, surgical and substance abuse services. In a hospital setting, nurses are assigned to various departments according to their specializations. For example, nurses trained to deal with trauma and emergencies can be assigned to the emergency room as they can deal with the unpredictable conditions and the fast pace of this work setting.
Outpatient and Clinic Settings
Outpatient facilities offer non-critical care, preventative care, and minor surgery services. In these settings, nurses do not care for patients over multiple days, weeks, or months like they would in hospital settings. Many of the nurses who work in outpatient centers are licensed vocational nurses or licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, as well as nurse practitioners (advanced practice nurses). The roles and responsibilities assigned to nurses in these settings depend on the specific facility. Some facilities require that nurses work under doctors while others give registered nurses and nurse practitioners enough autonomy to make decisions on behalf of the facility.
Outpatient settings are becoming very favorable for nurses as more people opt for outpatient services. A lot of nurses also say that they switched to outpatient and clinic settings due to the predictable schedules and the reduced workload compared to working in a hospital.
Physicians who provide non-emergency and routine services can hire nurses to help them at their practices. These physicians might be offering dermatology, dentistry, pediatrics, or reproductive health services. These nurses interact with the patient, collecting and recording all required information, and might even help the physician with some of the procedures they do.
A common office setting is in family medicine where physicians treat and take care of patients of all ages. In these settings, family nurse practitioners are very common and they are often called upon to assist the physician. The main benefit of working in a physician’s office is that they operate during normal business hours and offer a less hectic routine because patients typically have to make appointments before coming in to see the physician.
There is an increasing number of nurses who work in patients’ homes. These nurses care for their patients directly without the backing or supervision of any physicians. In most cases, these nurses care for terminally or chronically ill patients, those who have had surgery recently, or people with disabilities. They might also work with the elderly and those who need physical help, personal care, or help with day-to-day activities.
Nurses who work in patients’ homes cite independence, rewarding relationships, and slower pace as the main reasons why they prefer to work in these settings. Strong communications skills, patience, understanding, sensitivity, and feeling comfortable working intimately with patients are all critical for nurses who would like to work in this setting.
Elementary and High Schools
Nurses are crucial in elementary and high school settings. Here, they have to deal with injuries and illnesses to both students and staff. They also need to assess if their patients need urgent care, refer them to specialists, as well as monitor students with chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes. They also keep an eye out for infectious diseases because these can spread very fast in a school setting.
If you are a teacher looking to become a nurse who works in an elementary or high school setting, you already have an advantage over other candidates because you already have experience working with kids and teens. All you need to do is earn an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. There are numerous BSN programs that allow you to earn the degree online. Most of these programs only require that you have a bachelor’s degree. You can turn your non nursing degree to BSN online at Elmhurst University and complete the degree in 16 months.
Assisted Care Facilities and Nursing Homes
Many nursing homes provide many of the services offered by hospitals, and are the biggest employer of registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses just behind hospitals. Apart from 24/7 supportive help and medical care, nursing homes can also provide different types of therapy as well as end-of-life care.
Assisted living facilities are slightly different because they help their residents with daily living. These facilities cater mostly to the elderly and those with disabilities who need their independence but still require some help with everyday living. These facilities often employ certified nursing assistants who are usually supervised by registered nurses or licensed vocational nurses.
Gratification and personal accomplishments are often cited as the main reasons why nurses work in these facilities. Personal relationships are also very high on this list because residents stay at these facilities for an extended period and this time is enough for personal relationships to develop.
Vocational schools, colleges, and universities need people to train nurses. The people tasked with that job are nurse educators. These nurses have usually completed their training and have some clinical experience. For an even better chance of working in these positions, you can earn a doctor of nursing practice degree.
In addition to teaching, these nurses also supervise clinical training and prepare their students for the national exam and certification.
Although many of us think of hospitals or physician offices when we think about where nurses work, those are not the only settings nurses work in. Nurses can work in a variety of settings depending on their training, personal preferences as well as where they want their career to go. If you are thinking about becoming a nurse, you can start thinking about which setting would be the best fit and start working towards that before graduating.