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    Think Nursing
    Maria Clancio  

Think nursing is simply nursing? Think again. There are many specialties within the nursing field ranging from the care of infants to the elderly as well as subspecialties in between.

Nursing school will prepare students with the basic fundamentals of specialty areas such as medical ­surgical, obstetrics, pediatrics and psychiatric. Students are prepared via theoretical methods in the classroom and clinical experiences in hospital settings. Clinical experiences in the hospital take place under the direct supervision of a nursing instructor. This provides for actual hands on as students learn to care for patients.

On the job training/preceptorship is offered to nurses upon hiring at a hospital. This will allow for the new nurse to ease in to the particulars of the job setting.

Medical-surgical is the basic foundation for each specialty area. It is the first course taught in nursing school. Nursing school prepares students with the basic fundamentals of specialty areas such as medical-surgical, obstetrics, pediatrics and psychiatric.

Medical- surgical encompasses all age groups, all diseases and conditions. It begins with the basic aseptic technique (handwashing, prevention of infection). All areas require a solid medical-surgical background as a basic foundation. This allows for a smoother transition to a specialty. One must first learn to observe and recognize signs and symptoms, perform physical assessments, administer medications, change and apply dressings, document accurately and perform patient teaching to name just a few skills.

Specialty areas in a hospital setting provide hands on training in a preceptor program. This enables one to learn new skills while becoming acquainted with the new unit.

Emergency nursing is fast paced. If you like the challenge of having to think on your feet and see immediate results, this is the area for you. One never knows what to expect and must always be prepared for any type of situation. Emergency Room cases vary from patients with cold and flu symptoms to patients with multiple traumas. The key to successful ER nursing is a fast accurate response and teamwork. Triage is very important as it involves assessing which patients need to be treated first and knowing how to prioritize. An example of triage would be to treat the patient with complaint of chest pain prior to treating the patient with a simple finger sprain. The ER has access to all specialties. Some hospitals have separate pediatric and psychiatric Emergency Rooms.

Intensive care (ICU) is precisely what the name implies. It is the taking care of one or the maximum of two patients for the entire shift as these patients are unstable and require round the clock monitoring and care. This area is further divided into pediatric, post operative, medical and cardiac intensive units.

Operating room nursing (OR) is a very specialized area with many subspecialties. OR nursing is very dependent on quality teamwork. In simple cases, two nurses are assigned. In more complicated cases, more than two nurses are required.

One nurse scrubs to assist the surgeons. The scrub team dons sterile clothing in order to handle sterile instruments. The second nurse is the circulator. The circulator is responsible to assist with the patient's positioning, comfort, anticipating what the surgical team requires and documentation. Both nurses are responsible for the correct counting of sutures, sponges and instruments.

Another nurse who works in the OR, but also in delivery rooms, physicians' offices, critical access hospitals, and other facilities, is the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). These advanced practice nurses are anesthesia specialists who personally administer 65 percent of all anesthetics given to patients each year in the United States. CRNAs work closely with surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, and other qualified healthcare providers to bring pain relief and comfort to surgical, obstetrical, and trauma patients of all ages. Interestingly, approximately 42 percent of the nation's 30,000 nurse anesthetists are men, the highest percentage of all nursing specialties. CRNAs are also the main provider of anesthesia care to the U.S. military.

Recovery room nurses (post anesthesia care, PACU) care for immediate postoperative patients. Vital signs, pain management and constant monitoring are important in the recovery period after anesthesia and surgery.

If you enjoy babies and children or even teens, a career in neonatal or pediatrics may be just right for you. Neonatal involves taking care of the tiniest members of our population. Pediatrics ranges from infants to eighteen years of age. Interacting with concerned parents or guardians is a must as is a love of infants and children. Both areas encompass all diseases, cancers and mental and physical developmental abnormalities.

If counseling and helping people with their problems is more to your liking, you may want to consider a career in psychiatric nursing. A comforting, listening professional is crucial in this sensitive area. Psychiatry is also divided into age groups ranging from small children to the elderly.

Obstetrical nursing is the care of mothers in labor and the delivery of their infants. It is also the care and teaching of new mothers after giving birth (post partum).

All areas require willingness and desire to help people. Deciding which area to work in depends on which area of expertise you are interested in. All these areas are covered in nursing school clinical rotations, which give students hands on experience in the fine art of caring.

Today, in view of terrorist activity right in our own country, a nursing career may be just what to do to combat any feeling of helplessness. Nurses are always needed to help the sick and to replace the nurses called up in the military reserves. It is a selfless career and an asset to our country and local communities.


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