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CNA Jobs: What You Should Know

In the licensed nursing field there are a series of professional degrees and certifications that will define not only one’s title, but also dictate what types of tasks and responsibilities they can expect to engage in. Within the realm of the nursing profession there are various levels one can attain which include training to become a:

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

  • Registered Nurse (RN)

  • Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)

  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Each of these titles within the nursing field bring with them definitive training on various levels. Additionally, depending on which type of nursing one chooses to be trained and skilled in, the daily tasks will vary, as will the expectations, movement within the agencies they work for and will affect the types of wages earned. Deciding which degreed or certified program one should enter should depend on the job preferences they have, the level of commitment to schooling and training and the desired income they wish to obtain. In licensed nursing jobs here is what you should know.

Registered Nurse

Becoming a Registered Nurse will require more schooling and training than that of a Certified Nurse Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner. RN’s can plan to work in various clinical settings which include school systems, hospitals, nursing homes, private clinics and in home health care. Which setting one chooses is entirely up to their preferences and because the income varies, that also plays a role in the decision.

RN’s are expected to perform numerous tasks within the health field and they are expected to do so with compassion, detail and accuracy because people’s lives depend on the care they are given. Some of the main responsibilities that are mastered by a Registered Nurse include:

  • Assessing patient’s overall health and recovery

  • Identifying illnesses, morbidities and injuries

  • Assist patients in understanding their ailments, treatments and recovery process

  • Recommending treatments and courses of action for patients while working with doctors and other health professionals to assess the issues and formulating treatment plans

  • Overall care for patients who are severely ill, injured or dying

  • Research in the health realm

  • Perform things like IV’s, delivering medications, catheterizations and withdrawing blood

  • Essentially work alongside and assist doctors, clinicians, respiratory therapists and other healthcare professionals

In order to be a Registered Nurse, there is specific schooling and training involved which will include advanced studies in biology, human science, anatomy and social services. Advanced training in diagnostics, mentoring and medical procedures such as phlebotomy will also be studied and mastered. Because Registered Nurses play a pivotal role in the diagnosing and treatment of patients, advanced courses in medicine are required, as are social classes to assist them in interacting with patients and their families on an emotional level.

RN’s can make a great living depending on where they live and what type of facility they obtain employment at. The 2012-13 Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates that a Registered Nurse will likely earn about $28,000 but as much as $50,000 per year upon graduation.

RN’s work under the direct supervision of a Medical Doctor and can expect to train for a minimum of two to three years at a training center or community college. This will earn them an Associate’s Degree in nursing. Others choose to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing as the pay is higher and the responsibly is greater. For more information about becoming an RN visit http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/nurse/nursebroch.htm.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

A Licensed Practical Nurse shares some of the same responsibilities as an RN however they are not able to perform all of the job requirements of an RN, as they fall directly under the RN’s supervision and have not had as much medical training as a Registered Nurse. To become a Licensed Practical Nurse the training usually involves a one year program or community college training program and in some cases a required intern or externship.

LPN’s also work in schools, within clinical settings, hospitals and in nursing homes. Some of their primary job functions include but are not limited to:

  • Assessing vital signs

  • Gathering and recording patient information, vitals and statistics

  • General hygiene

  • Performing laboratory tests

  • Supervision of CNA’s and Nursing Assistants

Many LPN’s work very closely with the patients and their families and assist them in understanding their illnesses, treatment protocols and rehabilitation processes. A large number also work within rehabilitation clinics and treatment centers where dying patients are made comfortable before passing. For this reason, many are skilled in working with people on a compassionate and one on one level.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2012-13 Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates that a newly graduated Licensed Practical Nurse can expect to earn about $40,380 depending on the facility they gain employment at and the region where they live. For more information about becoming an LPN visit http://www.allnursingschools.com/nursing-careers/licensed-practical-nurse/licensed-practical-nurse.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nurse Practitioners generally choose a specific field of study to specialize in and they also have a level of autonomy that is not granted to Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses or Certified Nursing Assistants.

A Nurse Practitioner in almost all cases will have earned their Bachelor’s in Nursing and then will continue on to obtain their Master’s degree. This can take as many as six to eight years to complete. Often called Physician Extenders, they are the right hand person of Medical Doctors and often help in diagnosing and treating patients to a higher extent than other nursing professionals. Additionally, most NP’s have the ability to treat patients with minimal supervision in clinical settings and can write prescriptions; something other nursing professionals are not allowed to do.

The median earning of a Nurse Practitioner is $ 89.500 but most make considerably more depending on where they live and what type of facility they are employed at. A NP who works with a Psychiatrist can earn somewhere in the range of $116,000 upon graduation. For more information on becoming a Nurse Practitioner visit http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/nurse/np.htm or http://www.nursing-school-programs.org/2010/11/10/nurse-practitioner-salary.html.

Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)

Of all the nursing professions, the easiest to obtain is a Certified Nurse Assistant certificate. CNA’s are a valuable member of medical professional teams and perform a wide range of duties that Registered Nurses and other health professionals do not have time to tend to. Such duties include but aren’t limited to:

  • Patient hygiene

  • Checking vitals

  • Documenting weight/height

  • Performing other tasks as assigned by their Nursing supervisors

Many enter the medical field as a CNA because it is a good way to assess if this is the field for their personal tastes and preferences. A CNA will also work very closely with the patients one of one so it’s a great social field to enter that requires less schooling and training.

One can earn their certificate in CNA fields but attending a certification program in less than one year. Most of these programs can be found at technical colleges, community colleges and at your local Red Cross.

The downside to being a CNA if there is one, is that making a decent living can be challenging. Upon completion of the CNA program a recent graduate can expect to earn anywhere from $7.00 to $11.00 per hour depending on the region one lives in and the facility that they work in. If you plan on getting wealthy, this will be unlikely with a CNA certificate which is why many go on to become LPN’s or RN’s. Others however love the tasks and patient contact that comes with being a CNA and remain in that position forever, gradually earning more throughout the years.

For more information on becoming a CNA visit http://www.nursingassistants.net/educational-articles/everything-you-want-to-know-about-being-a-cna/.

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