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For most of us, our first interaction with a nurse happened the day we were born—and it won't be the last. Nurses provide physical and emotional patient care in times of illness or injury.

Nursing is one-on-one patient care within the healthcare field. Good skills to have for this major include math, science, logical thinking and most importantly, people skills. Communication skills are vital since you are the one meeting and attending to the patients before they see a doctor. In addition, the healthcare field can be hectic at times, so it's important to be able to handle stressful situations.

Something to consider

During your nursing education, you will participate in clinicals or labs using what you learned in class and applying it to real life by working in a hospital or medical clinic. Also, get ready to be a human guinea pig, as you and your classmates will practice checking blood pressure, drawing blood and other skills on each other.

The levels of nursing (in ascending order of degree) include: licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, bachelor of science in nursing and master of science in nursing. In addition, when considering nursing, many schools offer programs from small school environments, such as a two-year technical school, to large four-year universities.

Also, depending on your area of study, you'll most likely have to take the National Council Licensure Exam in your specialty of practical nurse (PN) or registered nurse (RN) to work as a nurse or to continue on to another nursing profession. You can specialize in a particular field of medicine—just like doctors—but this will require additional schooling and training.

After graduation

A nursing degree gives you a lot of variety when it comes to a career, and depending on your certifications, possible job titles include: nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, flight nurse and research nurse. Popular nursing specialties include: ambulatory care nurse, neuroscience nurse, oncology nurse, pediatric nurse and school nurse. Again, some nursing specialties require more schooling and certifications. For example, a clinical nurse specialist requires a bachelor of science in nursing, passing the NCLEX, a master of science in nursing, passing the National Nurse Licensing Exam and passing the Certified Nurse Specialist Certification exam.

Where you could end up living

Nursing professions have good career opportunities throughout the United States. For example, as a registered nurse, you can find average to above-average opportunities in nearly every state according to My Next Move

Salary and occupation outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, there were more than 2,650,000 jobs as a registered nurse, and the average salary was $68,910 per year. As for outlook, the growth rate percentage from 2012—2022 is 19 percent, which is faster than the average occupational growth rate. This growth is due to the necessity nursing has in our society thanks to modern medicine.

A nursing education and career allows you to work within the healthcare field, while building relationships with those around you. As our world's population continues to increase, the demand for more qualified nurses and other healthcare professionals will too.

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