Life in school vs. school of life in the field of nursing

school of life in the field of nursing

What does the word “career” bring to mind? The Merriam Webster dictionary describes career as: “field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life.”

Based on this description, a career is the pursuit of achievement in a consecutive, progressive manner. It’s an achievement which doesn’t happen overnight, but rather, progressively over a period of time.

Another description offered by Merriam Webster is: “a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.”

Certainly, a life in nursing is a calling. Being a nurse requires kindness, dedication, and compassion, as well as a willingness to help people in need. And yes, a successful career in nursing is a consecutive, progressive achievement. Nurses deal with different situations daily, collaborating with fellow medical colleagues, and learning a great deal as they go. The amount of knowledge gained naturally leads to a higher status and increased self-confidence.

Learn while you work

When starting out in a career, the basic education received usually provides a fair understanding of what the job entails. But when a student leaves college or university and finds a job in the workplace, there is always so much more to be learned.

Nursing is no exception. Fortunately, with most careers in the medical field, there is some practical experience involved in the training process. Nursing is one of the occupations where you can choose to study while you work. This always helps, and there’s nothing quite like being thrown into the “deep end” for a solid learning encounter that is not easily forgotten. Practical experience, especially when gained under pressure, is more likely to make a lasting impression.

While young nurses train in a hospital or clinic environment, their theoretical training is put to practical use, ensuring that they gain invaluable experience and new skills as they go along. Depending on the working environment, a nurse who has been working for, say, two years will have gained an immeasurable amount of practical knowledge, and along with that comes confidence in what they are doing. This will undoubtedly increase their patient-skills and they will develop a caring manner over time that exudes trustworthiness and self-assurance.

Nurses meet people from all walks of life, each with their own unique problems, and different ways of dealing with their illness or injury. Some people are strong and resolute, which makes them easier to care for. Others are weaker and find it more difficult to cope. These are the people who need special attention, perhaps a kind word or a caring hand on their shoulder.

Nurses learn to recognize the signs of distress and how to deal with the situation. A caring nurse will discuss the patient’s medical condition with them and explain the treatment and medication. But it doesn’t stop there. Concerned family members need to be treated with care as well, helping them to understand their loved-one’s illness and process of treatment, and whether they can assist in any way. The patient needs to be enlightened regarding the medication they are to take, or therapy they may need. Dealing with the different personality types and recognizing signs of depression or anxiety is something that a nurse learns over time.

In addition to picking up medical and nursing skills at work, nurses have a lot of paperwork to do. They are often torn between their patients who really need help, and completing the paperwork, which records the patient’s care routine, and is just as important. In the first few years of work, paperwork can be a bind, but in no time at all the nurse will learn how to cope, and become efficient and accurate.

Nursing in today’s fast-moving times

Technology and medical science are constantly changing, and anyone working in a health care environment needs to keep abreast of the changes for the sake of the patients’ wellbeing. Modern technology has made huge improvements in terms of equipment used in the medical field, and each new discovery or technological upgrade means that the nurses and doctors who are going to use the equipment need training. Constant updates in medication as well as new forms of treatment and therapy require nurses to be informed and up-to-date with the changes in their particular working environment.

Computer literacy and nursing

The use of computerized equipment is growing daily and is bound to make inroads into the efficient operation of various health care systems in the future. PubMed conducted some surveys in the latter half of 2022 to establish the attitude of nursing staff towards computer literacy and the use of computers in health care. The findings were generally optimistic, with the nurses displaying reasonably good computer skills and a positive attitude towards the use of computers in their workplace.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly relevant to nursing, promoting high-quality nursing care. EHR systems facilitate the capturing of patient data, from the clinical data such as past history, medication, vital signs and immunizations through to radiology and laboratory reports. Functions such as EHR alert optimization, predictive analysis, syndromic surveillance, and the capture of clinical images such as MRI, CAT, and X-ray images will soon become the norm, and nurses will have to learn to utilize the equipment that is relevant to their jobs.

From the basic data capture skills to the more complicated operation of ICU equipment that monitors patients’ vital signs, AI goes hand-in-hand with high-quality nursing care, allowing quick access to patient data and aiding RNs, NPs, and MDs to diagnose and take action based on historical data such as symptoms, allergies, health history, and diagnostic test results. They are able to monitor patients’ progress, set reminders for tasks such as medication or treatments, and build up a database of information for later analysis. Such a database enables the medical professional to act efficiently and timeously in emergency situations, thus saving lives.

In the larger medical institutions, nurses will be required to interact with nursing informatics professionals in order to ensure the correct capture of patient data, and access the required information regarding their patients. Informatics also eliminates the need for laborious paperwork, enabling nurses to spend more time with patients.

There are formal qualifications in nurse informatics, but it is not necessary for RNs and NPs to go into that much detail. It makes sense for nursing staff to have access to the necessary training in the particular computer skills that impact their immediate jobs, while at the same time, gaining hands-on experience.

Furthering your education as a nurse

The career path for becoming a registered nurse (RN) begins with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing training facility. An RN also needs to be licensed in the state in which they work. The RN license needs to be renewed every two years, and before qualifying for a license renewal, many states require a refresher course or additional study known as a continuing education course (CE). This ensures that the nurse keeps up to date with new nursing methods, upgrades in technology, and the latest medicines and treatments. Continued education also covers leadership and communication topics, as well as legal and ethical aspects of the job. Aside from further enhancing nursing skills, this training helps to protect health care facilities from legal liabilities.

It takes between two and four years to become a registered nurse. Once you have qualified as an RN, you may decide to work for a couple of years to gain more experience, or you can begin studying right away for the next step in your career. The practical experience gained in a hospital or clinic environment is quite valuable and will make further study that much easier.

After working in an active nursing role for some time, the RN can take their training to the next level by studying to become a nurse practitioner (NP). Besides gaining additional skills and enhancing their career, nurse practitioners are likely to earn a higher income and have greater autonomy. An NP needs to be registered in the state they are working in, and the regulations governing their authority to practice differ from state to state. Some states in the US give NPs permission to run their own practice, offering their skills and services to a community in need, and although this does not apply in all states, it is gradually becoming the norm. There is currently a shortage of medical practitioners, which is predicted to worsen in the next ten years. NPs are able to fill the gaps with their specialized knowledge and skills and alleviate some of the pressure on doctors.

There are three levels of autonomy that are allowed by the different states:

NP Full practice authority: due to the increasing shortage of medical care practitioners, the number of states that give NPs the authority to run their own practice has increased, with more than half the states in the US allowing full practice authority. This allows NPs to provide direct patient care without supervision by a medical practitioner, but they are subject to certain regulations set by the state board of nursing.

NP Reduced practice authority: in this case, the NP is required to enter into a collaborative practice with a physician. Generally, the NP will become part of the physician’s practice, administering the first level of care, enabling the practitioner to focus on the more complicated cases.

NP Restricted practice authority: there are certain conditions that the certified NP has to comply with regarding prescription limitations, supervision requirements, and restrictions regarding practice setups.

NPs work directly with patients and are able to diagnose most common illnesses as well as many chronic illnesses. They prescribe medication and help patients manage their illness or injury. They may arrange diagnostic tests and analyze the results.

The work settings for NPs include hospitals and clinics, doctors’ offices, schools, and public health care facilities. In certain states, NPs are allowed to open their own practice. If you are considering becoming an NP, it would be a good idea to check the regulations in the specific state where you intend to practice.

Once you have decided that becoming a nurse practitioner is the next step to take in your career, you need to think about whether you would like to specialize in a particular area of care. For further information regarding the different specialization areas, see this list of statistics as supplied by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

As can be seen from the figures, the greatest percentage of NPs choose to specialize in family care. An online fnp certificate enables the RN to study part time while working towards their FNP qualification. There is a lot more scope for the family nurse practitioner (FNP) than in the other areas of specialization as the FNP cares for people young and old and deals with the whole spectrum of illnesses. In addition:

There is a focus on promoting healthy lifestyles and the prevention of disease.

The FNP maintains patient records, enabling efficient treatment in the long term.

Diagnostic testing and analysis of the results are part of the FNP’s function. Thereafter, the patient can be referred to a medical practitioner or treated by the nurse practitioner if it is within their scope of knowledge.

The FNP may prescribe medication and develop treatment plans.

The FNP cares for long-term chronic and acute patients, unless they need sudden, acute care, in which case they will be transferred to the closest acute care unit.

FNPs may practice in a variety of health care environments, including private practice, clinics and community health care settings, and even universities.

The family nurse practitioner can set up clinics in diverse settings, including rural areas without access to proper medical facilities. Part of the focus for the NP in this type of setting is to educate patients, teaching them to manage their illnesses and live clean, healthy lifestyles, and preventing disease in the long term. Working in this kind of environment where the education of patients makes a big difference in their lives can be very rewarding for the NP and is indeed a service to the community. It also relieves pressure on emergency services and medical practitioners who would normally be called on in the absence of health care facilities in the area.

Qualified FNPs are also able to take additional post-master’s certification courses in subjects such as diabetes, acute care, and pain management. This gives them additional skills and increases the range of services they may provide to their patients, particularly in outlying areas where medical skills are in short supply.

On-the-job learning

Patient care in hospitals and clinics usually involves more than one health care provider, be it one or more registered nurses, nurse practitioners, or medical practitioners. Nurses generally work together in a team to draw up a care plan for the patient, and this is an excellent way for knowledge to be shared amongst colleagues, often from different disciplines.

As an example, an elderly patient who is battling with an illness as well as depression may be under the general care of an RN. The RN may need to consult an NP who has specialized in gerontology as well as an NP with a post-master’s certificate in psychiatric mental health care. These nurses each draw on their training and practical experience, sharing information and creating a suitable care plan for the patient.

This sharing of knowledge ensures constant learning, no matter what qualifications they each have. The challenges and successes that nurses experience in their jobs inevitably lead to a huge amount of knowledge and insight over the years and hopefully a striving for more knowledge through study. The personal rewards in terms of job satisfaction, fulfilment, and remuneration are paramount.

To this end, the code of ethics for nurses advocates the continuation of professional and personal growth, encouraging life-long learning, personal study, and participation in a wide range of social and civic activities.

Nursing is a commitment to a life of learning

Humans are by nature curious beings, constantly seeking to learn and understand. Learning something new every day, or interacting with different people, stimulates our minds, and if this happens to be in the workplace, is likely to enhance our job satisfaction and our overall wellbeing. Nursing certainly provides that opportunity. It is about constantly learning and meeting people, caring for patients, lending a sympathetic ear, listening to their stories, and usually making a difference in their lives. Nursing is a truly rewarding profession.

There is so much scope for improvement, and the options are endless. Nurses may be content to learn from the experiences on the job, or they may take it further with formal studies, learning while they work.

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