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In order to become a licensed registered nurse, you must first graduate from an accredited nursing program. It is possible to obtain a diploma (although these programs are rapidly disappearing), an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. Upon successful completion of the program, one must then pass the national credentialing test, the NCLEX-RN.

Although time spent at the bedside doing direct patient care is almost a given in any nursing career, the field of nursing is so vast and varied that many possibilities exist for employment. Nursing is a career that is always in demand as people continue to become ill or wish to prevent becoming ill and seek the counsel, care and advice from a registered nurse.

With any patient or problem, the RN must assess the situation. Vital signs, lab values, monitor readings are all taken into account when seeking to help patients with their problems. One important aspect of nursing is remembering to listen to your patient rather than relying solely on what machines or lab values are telling you. "Nursing intuition" frequently comes into play when no matter what everything else is telling you, you know that something is wrong with your patient. This skill, honed over time, has the ability to save a patient's life or redirect a physician to look at another aspect of care.

An RN's care often does not stop with the patient. In the case of a dying patient, care must be taken for the family, their feelings about their loved one's care and their own personal end of life issues. As with anything else in nursing, an RN must be aware of her own personal feelings and understand that she must set aside her personal viewpoints in order to give the best care needed for the patient and family.

Nursing can embrace your passions, no matter where they lie. If you prefer the outdoors, it is possible to be a camp nurse. If you prefer research, an advanced degree in nursing can be obtained for that purpose. Nurses can be found in virtually every aspect of the business and professional world. Nurses are employed as legal nurse consultants, in industrial settings, in foreign countries as mission workers, as education professionals, as governmental lobbyists, and of course, hospitals and nursing homes.

Nursing care and research has redefined medical care more than merely something dictated by doctors. Nursing can be a rewarding and challenging career that has become a major driving force in the changing face of patient care.

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