Inside Nursing Careers

Insider tips you need to know to choose and succeed in the right career

Career Background


  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Surprising and Helpful Information

Detailed info from people on the job

Examples of likes and dislikes:


"provides opportunities for various shifts and areas of practice such as acute care, home health, research, private practice, out-patient surgery, and consulting. Another advantage of nursing is the opportunity it affords you to travel the country with help of various staffing agencies."


"trying to do an adequate job in providing care for patients with limited staffing and resources. Healthcare is a mess and much work is needed to improve the system of care in this country."

Nursing Career Overview


Nurses may be categorized by the level of education or degree that they hold. A wide variety of accredited nursing programs at vocational schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities are available to meet the varying needs of students. Nursing careers such as LPNs generally only require one year of study and training, while RNs must have earned an associate or baccalaureate degree, or a diploma program at a hospital. Nurses may choose to become certified in specialties such as pediatrics, oncology, and gastroenterology, among many other areas. Finally, before practicing, nursing graduates must take licensing exams, such as the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) or for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses (RNs) constitute 2.6 million jobs, the largest occupation within healthcare, and are projected to have faster than average growth from the period 2008 to 2018.

Career Skills

Individuals interested in a career in nursing should have strong communication skills in order to interact with patients as well as other doctors and health care members. Nurses need to be able to explain medical instructions and information clearly to their patients, have good listening skills, and have patience when dealing with patients in various capacities. In addition, nurses should be detail-oriented and have strong organizational skills in order to prioritize and handle several patients and tasks at the same time. Finally, nurses should have an interest in science and the human body, as they often administer medications to patients and assist with medical procedures.

Career Options

The type of career path than an individual can take depends on the level of education and certification one wants to obtain. Careers in nursing may be found in a variety of locations, such as medical offices, schools, and hospitals. The following are a few nursing career options:

  • Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also known as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) work under the supervision of RNs or physicians. LPNs care for patients in many ways including administering medications and delivering injections, taking vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature, gathering patient information, collecting lab samples, and assisting with patient planning.
  • Registered nurses (RNs) provide treatment to patients and often oversee the tasks performed by LPNs. The largest group of health care workers in the United States, RNs perform many duties to help treat patients, promote good health, educate patients, and provide emotional support, including documenting medical symptoms and histories, performing diagnostic tests, administering medication, and operating medical machinery, among others.
  • Home healthcare nurses are RNs that specialize in providing medical services to patients at their own home. Care may be administered as a follow-up to a hospital or rehabilitation stay, such as those recovering from accidents or medical procedures. Nurses specializing in this area work with the patients and their families, providing medical care as well as educating them about home care.
  • School nurses are RNs who work in an academic environment, providing care to staff members and students of schools. In addition to caring for students who require medical attention, school nurses work with parents of patients and may also refer students to other health care providers. Other tasks include the administering of medicine, providing wellness and health education programs, and ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations, among others.