CAREERS: A LOOK AT THE FACTS
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for
registered nurses will grow faster than the average for all occupations
Nursing students comprise more than half of all health professions
Ursula Holleman studies an x-ray
at Houston Medical Center.
Nurses comprise the largest single component of hospital staff,
are the primary providers of hospital patient care and deliver most
of the nation's long-term care.
Most health care services involve some form of care by nurses.
Although 60 percent of all employed RNs work in hospitals, many
are employed in a wide range of other settings, including private
practices, public health agencies, primary care clinics, home health
care, outpatient surgicenters, health maintenance organizations,
nursing-school-operated nursing centers, insurance and managed care
companies, nursing homes, schools, mental health agencies, hospices,
the military, and industry. Other nurses work in careers as college
and university educators preparing future nurses or as scientists
developing advances in many areas of health care and health promotion.
Though often working collaboratively, nursing does not "assist"
medicine or other fields. Nursing operates independent of, not auxiliary
to, medicine and other disciplines. Nurses' roles range from direct
patient care to case management, establishing nursing practice standards,
developing quality assurance procedures, and directing complex nursing
With more than four times as many RNs in the United States as physicians,
nursing delivers an extended array of health care services, including
primary and preventive care by advanced, independent nurse practitioners
in such clinical areas as pediatrics, family health, women's health,
and gerontological care. Nursing's scope also includes care by certified
nurse-midwives and nurse anesthetists, as well as care in cardiac,
oncology, neonatal, neurological, and obstetric/gynecological nursing
and other advanced clinical specialties.
The primary pathway to professional nursing, as compared to technical-level
practice, is the four-year bachelor of science degree in nursing
(BSN). Registered nurses are prepared either through a BSN program;
a two-year college program, receiving an associate's degree in nursing;
or a three-year hospital training program, receiving a hospital
diploma. All take the same state-licensing exam. (The number
of diploma programs has declined steadily -- to less than 10 percent
of all basic RN education programs -- as nursing education has shifted
from hospital-operated instruction into the college and university
Source: American Association of Colleges of Nursing