What to Expect: Work Environment for Nurses

For those interested in pursuing a career in nursing, it’s helpful to know what the work environment for nurses is like.

Working as a Nurse

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists a nurse’s duties as recording medical histories and symptoms, administering treatment, setting up plans for patient care, observing and recording, consulting with other healthcare professionals, operating and monitoring medical equipment, and other similar duties.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities often require round-the-clock staffing, so nurses must be prepared to work evenings and weekends, the BLS says. Nurses sometimes move from place to place, providing patient care where it’s needed; prospective nurses should be willing to travel or relocate for their new career.

Nursing is also a rewarding career. Because of the demands placed on them, nurses often have access to good benefits and competitive salary; the BLS lists the median salary for registered nurses as $67,490, and they can earn as much as $101,630. Nurses participate directly in patients’ lives, even saving lives.

Nursing Environments

There are many different fields a nurse can enter. In each, nurses encounter certain environments, patients and challenges.

Hospital

Nurses working in a hospital oversee patient care, administer treatment and operate medical equipment. Efforts are being made to improve hospital working environments to better serve patients.

Emergency Room

The emergency room environment is fast-paced and highly stressful. ER nurses frequently encounter patients in critical condition, and they might be expected to work in ambulances from time to time. Both physical and mental demands on nurses are higher in the ER than in the general hospital.

Surgical

A surgical nurse might be responsible for ensuring that tools are sterilized, managing the environment of the operating room, assisting surgeons, performing life-saving actions or managing operating room staff and performing other administrative functions.

Geriatric

A nurse working in a nursing home or geriatric wing of a hospital deals primarily with the elderly. Responsibilities are likely to include organizing medications, managing chronic conditions or assessing a patient’s mental status or cognitive skills.

Private Practice

Private practice differs from hospital work in that a nurse is likely to encounter fewer patients because of the smaller number of doctors present. Pace is usually slower, and nurses are unlikely to deal with emergency situations.

Becoming a Nurse

Prospective nurses need education to provide quality patient care. With an online RN to BSN degree from Campbellsville University, students can learn the skills they need to enter the nursing profession, with a flexible course of study.