An overview of Nursing Roles and Careers

There are a variety of nurse types that work in different settings. At first glance it can be difficult to differentiate between who does what when everyone has a title that you don’t know much about.

So whether you are interested in a career as a nurse or expect to spend some time in a hospital setting soon or are simply just curious the below overview should make things a little clearer for you.

nursing assistant helping a patient

Clinical Nurse

This is a type of nurse that specializes in treating and diagnosing illnesses that they have advanced knowledge of. This kind of nurse tends to be who other nurses talk to if they need some help with an issue they may not be too familiar with at that point in time.

RN Registered Nurse

A registered nurse (RN) is one that has a college degree in the field of nursing. Usually they have a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree. Their job is usually to help physicians in hospitals and other types of medical facilities. Patients they care for include people with a wide variety of medical issues or injuries. Registered nurses earn on average $71,000 per year or $34.14 per hour.

LPN Licensed Practical Nurse

A licensed practical (LPN) nurse is who works under an RN. They are able to give people medications, give injections, and they’re able to check vitals. This is a good entry level type of job for someone wondering if they will like this field. LPN’s earn over $41,000 per annum on average and $21.17 per hour.

CNA Certified Nursing Assistant

A Certified Nursing Assistant is an entry level nurse who works alongside an LPN or RN or other senior members of a medical team. Their role is typically to assist with patient care including bathing and moving patients and generally to ensure that all aspects of care run smoothly. Reflective of more entry level aspect of the role the average nursing assistant salary is significantly less than that of other careers in nursing at $12.89 per hour or under $27,000 per annum.

NP Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner (NP) is able to either work with a physician, or they can do a lot of things that other nurses couldn’t do. They are able to prescribe you medications, give you a diagnosis, and come up with a new treatment plan for you. This is the way to go if you’re trying to be in the medical field without lots of medical education. Reflecting the seniority of their role NPs earn over $101,000 per annum on average or $48.68 per hour.

Travel Nurse

This kind of professional is able to travel around their country or to others for many days at a time. Some even end up staying where they’ve traveled to for many years in a row. This is like being an RN, but you move around to places that need you at the time. Whether you’re helping to fill vacant spots or just coming to a place when there is a lot going on, it works for those that love traveling.

Now it’s easier for you to see which kind of nurse does what. You need to be sure about who you’re working with if you want to know what they are capable of. Plus, you’ll feel more comfortable with a nurse when you know what kind of training they have had.