In the U.S., a nurse is either a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse (called a licensed vocational nurse in Texas and California). Becoming a registered nurse requires more training and education than becoming a licensed practical nurse.
Licensed practical nurses provide basic bedside care to patients such as taking vital signs, applying dressings, and collecting samples for testing. If working in a doctor's office, licensed practical nurses may perform clerical duties such as answering phone calls and making appointments.
In addition to sometimes providing basic bedside care, registered nurses may also observe and help to assess patients, give out medication, create nursing care plans, and supervise other nurses.
Education and Training
In the U.S., a licensed practical nurse needs the following education and training:
- graduation from a state-approved practical nursing program, usually 1 year long
- passing a licensing examination to become a licensed practical nurse
In the U.S., a registered nurse needs the following education and training:
- successful completion of one of the following types of nursing programs:
- associate degree of nursing program (about 2 years)
- bachelor of science degree in nursing program (about 4 or 5 years)
- a hospital-based nursing diploma program (about 2 or 3 years)
- passing a licensing examination to become a registered nurse
On the Job
Many nurses work in healthcare facilities, but some may travel to visit schools, homes, or community centers. Many nurses spend significant time interacting with patients who may be upset or uncooperative, so the ability to interact effectively with a wide range of personalities is a plus. Some nurses must be available to work at nights and on weekends.
Math on the Job
Nurses may need to use math when dealing with medication, taking vital signs, making assessments, and helping to make treatment plans. Clerical and administrative duties may also require math skills.
- medical physician
- nurse's assistant or aide
You can get more information about nursing from the following sites:
The National League for Nursing
American Association of Colleges of Nursing