By Ann Acka’a,  BSN, RN, CM/DN

As compared to other professions or disciplines to which academic curriculums have a foundation courses with many related subject areas, nursing courses usually build on one another. As such a weakness in one subject area can result in academic problems in the remainder of the nursing course sequence. In nursing, all advance courses usually depend heavily on knowledge gained from the prerequisite classes taken.

Nurses work in a virtually unlimited arena of opportunities. The list that follows gives just a glimpse of practice settings in which a nurse can practice:

  • Nursing Schools
  • Clinics- in and out patient offices
  • Hospitals- Inpatient and Ambulatory centers ect
  • Infusion Centers
  • Schools- Elementary, Middle, High Schools and also Universities
  • Community agencies such as Home Health
  • Legal Nurse Consulting
  • Physician offices
  • Hospice
  • Military
  • Cruise Ships
  • Occupational Health
  • Private Practice
  • Federal and State agencies
  • Retirement Homes
  • Volunteer organizations

What a nurse does depends on the setting in which they practice and also on the needs of the individual client. In the majority of institutional or home health settings nurses provide care to clients with acute or chronic physical and or mental conditions. The nurse may assume total care of the client who is unable to meet any or some of his or her needs.

When working with clients, nurses assume a number of roles that often overlap and are interdependent in nature such as:

  • Caregiver
  • Patient advocate and protector
  • Comforter
  • Teacher
  • Counselor
  • Decision maker
  • Case manager
  • Communicator
  • Researcher
  • Role model

While practicing in these various roles, the nurse works to meet, or assist the client to meet needs such as hygiene, elimination (Yes pee and poop), safety, spiritual comfort, nutritional activity-such as exercise prescribed, sensory, adaptation, and or mental health needs. The nurse focuses on  five steps called the nursing process. The focus is on:

  • Assessing ( The client and the need for seeking medical care).
  • Analyzing (What the client need from nursing support based on their presenting health problems).
  • Planning ( The care to give based on what the client health needs that have been identified or anticipated  in order to promote return to optimum health maintenance of the client’s level)
  • Treating or resolving actual or potential health concerns or problems ( Review what the physician has prescribed for appropriateness or identify additional care that may be recommended to the physician in order to promote health).
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the nursing interventions based on the client’s response or reactions to the prescribed therapy or medications ( the nurse evaluates to ascertain if the prescribed therapy is effective).


The majority of society think of nurses as working with individuals on a one-one basis such as in a hospital. In the community setting, however, the client may not be the only one but also the family or group of families, a group of individuals or an entire community.


Educational  preparation plays an important role in climbing the career ladder within the nursing profession. Career opportunities run side by side with the nurse’s educational preparation. Simply put for advancement increase as does educational process increases. For some levels of nursing practices: a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Associate Degree (ADN) in nursing is acceptable. For others a Bachelors of Science (BSN) or  a masters or doctoral degree in nursing or education is required. Career opportunities include but not all inclusive as nursing has become a varied inclusive career:

  • Staff nurse or bedside nurse
  • Private duty nurse
  • Home health nurse
  • Clinical specialist
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse midwife
  • Nurse administrator
  • Nurse consultant
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse researcher

Food for thought: if you are seriously considering a career in nursing, one should realize that there are differences in the types of nursing programs that can lead to a registered nurse designation.