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Career Opportunities and Work Life

LMC Nursing classroomNurses play a vital role in our health care system. From carrying out doctors' orders to monitoring the condition of patients, from comforting a sick child to educating a family member on follow up care instructions, nurses are the glue that hold it all together. They work to promote good health, prevent disease, and aid in the healing process.

One-on-one patient care is one of the most prominent aspects of most nursing jobs. Bedside care activities include taking vital signs, keeping records, giving injections, applying dressings, collecting samples for tests, feeding patients, assisting with personal hygiene needs, and providing emotional support.

For those with specific interests, nurses can choose areas of specialty including pediatrics, geriatrics, intensive care, oncology, maternity, and surgery.

Work Environment
Nurses can work with patients of all ages of varying health levels, and in diverse settings. Employment can be in hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, doctors' offices, schools, residential care facilities, research facilities, social service agencies, and government agencies. Approximately 25 percent of nurses work part-time.

The work setting primarily dictates the types of hours nurses work. Health care needs in settings such as hospitals and nursing homes exist 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, making it necessary for nurses to work days, evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays, typically on a rotating shift basis. Nurses who work in settings such as physicians' offices and clinics are more likely to work regular business hours.

The health care environment can be stressful. Nurses must be able to cope with emergencies and fast paced situations. It can also be rewarding as patients recover, babies are born, and families express their appreciation for the care given to their loved ones.

Employment Outlook
As a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN), you will join two of the fastest growing occupations in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Driving much of the growth is technological advances that have prolonged life spans as well as the aging of our population as the baby boom generation approaches their later years. Also, as the current nursing population ages, many job opportunities will arise due to retirement.

With more than 2.6 million jobs, registered nursing is the largest healthcare occupation, and it is one of the 10 occupations projected to have the largest number of new jobs. In fact, by 2020, the field is expected to grow by 26 percent.

Licensed practical nursing is also expected to experience tremendous growth by 2020 with a 22 percent increase. Much of the employment growth is expected in nursing homes, physicians' offices, and emergency medical centers. Employment with home healthcare services should also show increasing job potential as more people opt for in-home care of seriously ill family members.

Locally, LMC nursing graduates are in high demand. Many are hired by Lakeland Regional Health Systems. Other places that have hired graduates of the LMC nursing program include Community Hospital in Watervliet, as well as hospitals in South Bend, Grand Rapids, Michigan City, LaPorte, and Holland.

Continuing Education
All nursing professionals in Michigan are required to fulfill 25 hours of continuing education every two years for continuance of their licensing. This is necessary because advances in health care happen rapidly and it is important for nurses to stay current with the latest breakthroughs and treatments.

Career Advancement
Nurses with advanced education - including bachelor's and master's degrees - will have the most options for varied employment. A bachelor's degree is often necessary for administrative positions and is a prerequisite for entry into a graduate program in research, consulting, teaching, or a clinical specialization. For teaching in the clinical setting, nurses must hold a bachelor's degree and for classroom instruction, one must typically must hold a master's degree.

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