12 Things You May Not Know About Registered Nurses

Photo By: Illustration by Lance Cpl. Jovane M. Henry

Every year from May 6th to May 12th we celebrate National Nurses Week. This week was chosen for National Nurses week because May 12th was Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Since we’ve heard a lot of misinformation, misconceptions and misunderstandings about the nursing profession, here are a few facts you might like to know:

1. How Many Nurses Are There in the U.S.?

There are over 3.1 million registered nurses currently working in the U.S. Nurses are the biggest group of healthcare professionals in the healthcare industry and they make up approximately 70% of the members of staff in a hospital. Nurses are a key part of the U.S. healthcare system and we wouldn’t be without them.

2. Percentage of Male Nurses in the U.S.

Many people are under the impression that a career in nursing is only for women. This isn’t the case. Both men and women can train to be a nurse and they’re equally as good at it. As long as you’ve got the qualities of a nurse, you will do well. In the U.S., approximately 7% of nurses are men. However, many universities and schools of nursing have reported an increase in the number of men applying for and completing one of their online nurse practitioner programs. Due to this increase, we expect to see a rise in the number of male nurses over the next few years.

3. Nurses are Trusted

Every year, the Gallup Poll is conducted, which asks members of the public which profession they believe to be the most honest and ethical. Nursing was first added to this list in 1999 and since then it has ranked #1 on every occasion apart from 2001 when it came second to the firefighting profession. 2001 was the year of the 9/11 tragedy.

4. Many People Become a Nurse Later in Life

Lots of people are choosing to become nurses later in life. People who had previously worked in the education, building, business, banking, technology, and human resources sector choose to change careers and fulfill their dream. In many cases, people turn to nursing as their second, third or even fourth career choice.

5. Nursing is a Popular Career Choice

Most schools of nursing have a 2-3 year waiting list for students who want to get into one of their nursing programs. Nursing is one of the most popular career choices in the U.S. If you’re wanting to train as a nurse but don’t want to wait, then there are ways around this. You could consider completing your course online through an accredited university. This will save you having to wait and means you can complete it from the comfort of your own home. Why not look into online nurse practitioner programs from reputable names like Carson-Newman?

6. Where Can Nurses Work?

Nurses can find work in a variety of different work settings around the U.S. Currently, approximately 60% of nurses choose to work in hospitals or other similar care facilities. The other 40% are employed in settings like:

  • Schools
  • Public health settings
  • Corporations
  • Wellness centers
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Law firms
  • Government agencies

7. Nurses Can Help Reduce Death Rates

Numerous studies have shown that creating lower nurse to patient ratios (e.g. when there are more Registered Nurses present on a ward) the rate of complications and death decreases. On the other hand, when there are fewer nurses present, this rate increases. In general, most nurses should be able to take care of around 4/5 patients at any one time but these recommendations can vary depending on:

  • The facility
  • The unit
  • The shift
  • The type of medical issue they are dealing with
  • The health of their patient

8. Nurses Have Their Own Care Plans

Nursing care is based on research, practice, and science which are unique to the nursing profession. Just like other medical professionals do, nurses create a plan for their patients, which includes their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. Don’t assume that nurses are unintelligent; it takes a lot of knowledge, science, and skill to be a good nurse. Nurses make it look easier than it is.

9. Registered Nurses are In Charge

Whenever someone is taken into hospital, whether you see them or not, there's always a Registered Nurse taking care of you. These nurses make sure that a person's best interests are kept in mind and will manage and coordinate the patient’s care. They work with a number of different professionals including:

  • Doctors
  • Therapists
  • Social workers
  • Technicians
  • Case managers
  • Dieticians
  • Speech and language specialists

10. Nurses are Intelligent

Nurses are experts in their own right. The majority of their work involves teaching patients and family members, for example:

  • Helping a patient who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes learn how to test their blood sugars and administer insulin.
  • Helping a lady who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer to navigate through the cancer treatment, medical appointments, and manage their symptoms.
  • Working alongside someone who has had a heart attack to get them ready for the challenges they will encounter when they leave hospital.
  • Showing first-time parents how to look after their newborn baby
  • Supporting people who have suffered from grief

11. Nurses Can Help Take the Pressure Off Other Medical Professionals

Registered nurses have so much knowledge and so many skills that we don’t know what we’d do without them. Here are just some of the things that nurses can do:

  • Attain/maintain a patient’s health and wellbeing
  • Wound care
  • Reduce the risk of infections
  • Manage pain
  • Treat skin ulcers
  • Manage chronic illnesses
  • Providing comfort
  • Coaching
  • Counseling
  • Weight management
  • And much, much more!

12. It’s a Brilliant Career Choice

Nursing has been named as one of the top 10 career choices in the U.S. by the Department of Labor and Statistics. The number of opportunities available to qualified nurses increases every year and we expect to see this trend continue. Nursing is an extremely rewarding career. Why not find out if you have what it takes to become a nurse?

There are a number of reasons why choosing a career in nursing is a brilliant idea. Not only is it an extremely rewarding career choice with numerous job opportunities, but it’s a profession that will only continue to increase in demand for over the next few years. Nursing has ranked #1 in the Gallop Poll for a number of years, and we can't see this changing anytime soon.

Head of Content, reality TV watcher and lover of cookies. emma@shared.com