2: What exactly is a nurse?

Definition of a Nurse

My early definition:

I am embarrassed to say before becoming a nursing assistant, I had no idea what a nurse actually was or entailed. I thought a nurse was basically a caregiver for a patient who also gave them medications. While that is not entirely untrue, there is so much more to nursing and infinite possibilities as to what setting of nursing you want to be.

My definition now:

A nurse is an advocate. A teacher, a healer. Someone with a thorough understanding of science and how disease processes work in the body. A nurse is an educator, a communicator, and the ultimate organizer. A nurse will put your needs before his or her own and will speak up when something isn’t right.

History of Nursing

Has anyone ever heard of Florence Nightingale? The lady with the lamp? She is basically the founder of nursing. During the Crimean War she became known for training other nurses to care for the wounded soldiers and developed a method to improve nursing in her time.

Fast forward many years and you can see the evolution of nursing from emptying chamber pots to being the physicians handmaiden to now organizing treatment plans, advising lawmakers, creating systems of health care, as well as various roles at the bedside, operating rooms, computer technology, education systems, and politics. You can become a nurse practitioner and depending which state you practice in can have your own health clinic or run an emergency room. Nurses are everywhere!

What is the one driving force that evolved nursing as a profession? Education!

You can now obtain your doctorate in nursing and more and more nurses are furthering their education as they advance in their careers.


Have an education plan. How far do you want to go as of now? There is no “right” or ‘Wrong” way. Do what’s best for you! Revisit your education plan every year as you gain experience in nursing. Nursing is a lifelong career of learning, you never know where you will want to go in another year from now.

Types of “Nurses”

When I say “Nurse” what comes to mind?

Most commonly we see our primary doctor or pediatrician, therefore the “nurse” in that setting is likely a Medical Tech or MT.

The next most common “nurse” the public might find is the school nurse. A lot of times this is not an RN but either a MT, CNA (certified nursing assistant), or an LPN (licensed practical nurse). There might be an RN who oversees the school nurses in an area of the county but usually each individual school nurse is not an RN.

In the healthcare setting you have “nursing” in this order.  CNA, LPN, RN (ADN), RN (BSN), APRN (MSN), APRN (DNP). At the masters and doctorate level there are multiple branches and types of nursing you can specialize in, this is by no means an all inclusive list, just a very basic example of the types of nursing education you might see.

Nurses are Evolving

As Healthcare changes and evolves, nurses will too. We will have to in order to meet the needs of our communities and to overcome the challenges we will face in the upcoming years.

Can basically be found in almost every  job sector.

If you try one area of nursing and discover it isn’t for you, you can switch!

You can move from bedside nursing to leadership or education, and back to the bedside.

Do you have a plan?