Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people. Advocacy, promotion of a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health policy and in patient and health systems management, and education are also key nursing roles.
The opportunities in a nursing career do not limit itself to hospitals. Clinical specialist, nurse practitioner, nurse administrator and nurse educator are some other areas which can be explored by nurses. Nurses are also appointed and elected to influential government positions. Nursing practice is conducted in a variety of settings, including hospitals, community facilities, private homes, nursing homes, schools, industry, physician’s offices, the military, civil service arenas and also the U.S. Public Health Service.
Capability is the only criteria for a career in nursing. Ethnic and religious background is never a constraint. Country is also no barrier and nurses are now in demand throughout the United States as well as internationally. As the career begins with working in hospitals, there are opportunities to work in medical/surgical nursing, maternity, and pediatrics as well as in critical care areas. As your career develops, one may choose to practice in one of the many specialized areas of nursing. Specialty nursing acute areas include emergency nursing, operating room nursing, coronary care, and intensive care specialties such as trauma, cardiac surgery, respiratory, pediatrics, and newborn intensive-care. Acute care involves critical thinking, technical skills, and high-level decision-making in life and death situations.
Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs are completed in four years duration. This course is available in senior colleges or universities. The course of study combines the theory and the practice of nursing, with application of principles from the basic sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The BSN program offers students first hand experience in major settings delivering health care. Baccalaureate education prepares graduates for entrance into graduate study at the master’s degree level, a minimum requirement for teaching, administration, clinical specialization, and nursing research.
Baccalaureate and graduate nursing education is vital to the healthcare industry. Healthcare agencies recruit only candidates with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for their nursing staff. Unless and until the nursing workforce is educated in evidence-based practice, healthcare agencies cannot compete with one another nor can they meet current and future healthcare needs. In addition, baccalaureate and graduate nursing education is an important factor in the financial revenue of the state. The private and public nursing schools in the United States results in a significant increase in revenue.
Education has a considerable impact on the comprehension and capability of nurses. Nurses with BSN degrees are more equipped to handle the needs of healthcare organizations. BSN prepared nurses have an edge over others when it comes to comparison. They are highly appreciated for their decision making at critical times, leadership, patient management and health promotion, as well as their ability to practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. Nurse executives, federal agencies, the military, leading nursing organizations, healthcare foundations, “magnet” hospitals, and minority nurse advocacy groups all recognize the unique value that baccalaureate-prepared nurses bring to the practice setting (AACN, October 9, 2003). The AACN provides a complete synopsis of national judgment showing the effects of education on nursing practice and the differences recognized among graduates of diploma, ADN, and BSN-programs (AACN, February 10, 2004).
Nursing includes providing physical and emotional care, promoting comfort, serving as patient advocates, assisting in rehabilitative efforts, teaching self-care and health promotion activities. Dr. Linda Aiken and colleagues (Aiken et al., 2003) at the University of Pennsylvania recognized a correlation between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes. Their study shows that surgical patients have a “substantial survival advantage” if treated in hospitals with higher proportions of nurses educated at the baccalaureate or higher degree level. A 10% increase of nurses holding baccalaureate degrees in hospitals has led to a 5% decrease in the risk of patient death and failure to rescue. As a result of this study, it has been recommended that the nursing education should aim to shape the nurses to meet the needs of the population. The employers of nurses should encourage and support registered nurses to pursue education at the baccalaureate and higher degree levels.
AONE is a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association. Being the nation’s leading organization of nurses, they recommend that nurses have to be educated sufficiently to meet the complex challenges of the future (AONE, 2005). “The educational preparation of the nurse of the future should be at the baccalaureate level. This educational preparation will prepare the nurse of the future to function as an equal partner, collaborator and manager of the complex patient care journey that is envisioned by AONE” (pg. 1). AONE has invited the partnership of practice, education and research to frame the next steps in realizing this future. Nurse employers have expressed a clear preference for hiring experienced BSN graduates for nursing management and RN specialty positions (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2002).
Apart from eagerness in the profession, there are certain ideal qualities for pursuing a nursing career:
Academic ability. Education in nursing is possible only when there is seriousness on the part of a student. He should be intellectually capable and proficient in the health sciences.
Responsibility. The title “registered nurse,” is a matter of privilege but responsibility and accountability comes hand in hand with the privilege. Nurses should be professional in every aspect. Loyalty to patients and to the profession, respect of confidentiality, using good judgment , handling critical issues etc., are some of the qualities that has to be cultivated in nurses.
Acceptance and Caring. Partiality in a nursing career is an unforgivable offence. They must respect the rights of all people regardless of age, race, social status, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs. Compassion should be their only language in any case.
Eagerness to Learn. Healthcare profession is an ocean and is also subject to changes from time to time. Hence, nurses are motivated to keep up with changing trends. Life-long learning and research is the only way to achieve this.
Confidence. Nurses must learn to handle calamity and crisis. Their profession is challenging but has to be met in a confident, efficient, and caring way.
Determination. Hard work is essential to become a registered nurse. Determination to succeed along with a good mental and physical health, plenty of stamina and endurance and a good sense of humor paves the way for a successful career.
As health is considered as a global issue, it is a fact that global health – the utmost well-being of all humans from the individual and combined point of view – is a fundamental human right, which should be available to all. The basic determinants of health mentioned in the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, 1986 are sufficient earnings, food, shelter, education, a unwavering environment, sustainable resources, peace, social justice and equity. Global health is acquired only when the standards set by this organization is met. The relationship between global health and equity, globalization and nursing has to be established in order to clearly understand the role of nursing in population health, health care and health care systems. The impact of globalization on health and other social structures in society is a controversial issue. There can be no disparity on the fact that globalization is changing the dynamics of world health. The point of debate is whether the effect is positive or negative, though due to international trade in goods and services, implications for health and health care has been both beneficial and detrimental. For example, the inflow and outflow of commodities, inhabitants and knowledge across borders affects the determinants of health such as employment, housing, education and environment thereby increasing health risks but at the same time shared knowledge and capital through superior expertise and machinery can have incredible advantages.
The issue of globalization is most debatable when economic globalization is linked to aggravation and strengthening of health inequity. The connection between financial and technical progress and the widening national and global disparities in health, wealth and human rights has been called “the dark side of progress”. This is a topic which has to be dealt with by Registered Nurses. They should dedicatedly explore and raise awareness of the origin of inequity in global health. Solutions and remedies have to be put forth by these nurses. As RNs are the largest group of health professionals and are respected by the public, they should actively participate and make an agenda for a reduction in health inequities both at home and abroad. Registered Nurses are more exposed and well informed about the linkage between people’s social condition and their health, and are therefore in a better position to contribute towards the improvement of general health. Nurses should be encouraged to evaluate global health and equity issues by application of social and political science theories. This topic is worthy of research.