Updated: Dec 28, 2022
Deciding to become a nurse is a big decision. Once you have made that commitment, knowing what kind of nurse you want to be is essential. There are many different types of nurses with varying levels of education and training. Here is a brief overview of the different types of nurses.
Registered Nurses (RNs)
Registered nurses comprise the largest health care workers in the United States. RNs generally have at least an associate's degree in nursing, but many have a bachelor's degree or higher. RNs must pass a national licensing exam before they can practice.
Most RNs work in hospitals but may also work in physicians' offices, clinics, nursing homes, or home health care services. RNs typically supervise licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and nurse assistants. They also provide patient education and support.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)
An APRN is a Registered Nurse who has completed advanced coursework and training in a specific practice area. There are four main types of APRNs: nurse practitioners (NPs), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), and certified nurse-midwives (CNMs). APRNs must have a master's degree or higher in nursing.
A CRNA administers anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery or other medical procedures. They work with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other physicians to determine the best type of anesthesia for each patient. CRNAs must have a bachelor's degree in nursing and at least one year of experience as an RN in an acute care setting.
An NP is a Registered Nurse who has completed advanced coursework and training in primary care or a specialty area. NPs provide direct patient care and often serve as a patient's primary healthcare provider. They may diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medication, order and interpret diagnostic tests, provide education and counseling on preventative healthcare, and much more. NPS must have a master's degree or higher in nursing.
Certified Nurse Midwives
A CNM is a Registered Nurse who has completed advanced coursework and training in midwifery. CNMs provide primary healthcare to women throughout their lifespan—from adolescence through menopause—and often serve as the primary healthcare provider for pregnant women. They provide education on pregnancy and childbirth, perform physical exams, order diagnostic tests, prescribe medication, manage labor pain, deliver babies, and much more. CNMs must have a bachelor's degree in nursing and at least one year of experience as an RN in an acute care setting.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)
Advanced practice registered nurses include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse-midwives. APRNs typically have a master's degree or higher in nursing. They provide direct patient care, often serving as primary care providers. APRNs also collaborate with other healthcare providers to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
Patient Care Technician (PCT)
A PCT is a healthcare worker who has completed a certified patient care technician training program. PCTs typically work in hospitals or clinics. They might also work in dialysis centers, blood banks, or labs. PCTs typically provide direct patient care under the supervision of an RN or LPN."
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
LPNs generally have less education and training than RNs. They must complete a state-approved education program and pass a national licensing exam. Most LPN programs last about one year.
LPNs typically work in hospitals, nursing homes, and home health care services under the supervision of RNs or physicians. Their duties include:
Taking vital signs.
Bathing and dressing patients.
Checking their blood pressure.
Collecting specimen samples for testing.
In some states, LPNs may administer medications under the supervision of an RN or physician. Some LPNs also work as patient educators or case managers.
Registered Nurse First Assistants (RNAs)
Registered nurse first assistants are advanced practice registered nurses who work closely with surgeons to assist with surgery. RNAs must have a bachelor's degree in nursing and complete an accredited RFNA program. They are responsible for scrubbing in for surgery, passing instruments to the surgeon, and providing direct patient care before, during, and after surgery.
Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs)
CNAs typically have less education and training than sand LPNs.They complete a state-approved education program that lasts about 8 to 12 weeks and must pass a state-approved exam before they can practice.CNAs usually work in hospitals, nursing homes, and home health care services under the supervision of an RN or physician. Their duties include checking vital signs, bathing, dressing, feeding patients providing emotional support, preventing blood pressure, and collecting specimen samples for testing. Some CNAs may also work as patient educators.
Nursing is a rewarding and demanding profession that requires a high level of skill, knowledge, and compassion. However, the desire to start their own business and be their boss can be intense for some nurses. Nurses who are interested in entrepreneurship have several options available to them. One option is to create a business directly related to nursing, such as a home healthcare agency or a medical supply company. Another option is to leverage their nursing skills and experience in a different type of business, such as consulting or coaching. Nurses interested in entrepreneurship may also want to consider seeking interested in entrepreneurship may also want to consider seeking out additional education and training, such as business courses or an MBA, to help them gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their businesses.
There are many different types of nurses with varying levels of education and training. Registered nurses comprise the largest group of healthcare workers in the United States and must pass a national licensing exam before practicing. Licensed practical nurses generally have less education and training than registered nurses but must complete a state-approved education program and pass a national licensing exam. Certified nurse assistants typically have even less education and training than licensed practical nurses but must complete a state-approved education program before they can practice. All three types of nurses play essential roles in providing patient care.