How Many Types of Nurses Are There?

how many types of nurses are there

Within the realm of nursing there are multiple degrees that can be obtained. With each additional step up the nursing hierarchy comes an increase in education requirements, salary and responsibility. Exact specifications for each type of nurse vary based on state and institutional policy.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Although not technically a nurse, a CNA will assist nurses with routine tasks in order to allow nurses to complete more pressing or technical tasks. The responsibilities of a CNA include direct patient care such as assistance in dressing and grooming, feeding, taking vital signs, making beds, transferring patients, assisting with exercises, positioning patients and providing for the basic needs of the patient. These tasks are done under the supervision of an LPN or RN. CNAs only hold a certification requiring a few weeks of training and sitting for an exam. Typical hourly rates range from $8-$17.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

An LPN operates as a nurse in a limited sense. Under the supervision of an RN or a doctor, an LPN may perform many of the duties of a CNA as well as some of the tasks undertaken by an RN. This includes providing direct patient care such as assistance with dressing, grooming, transferring patients and taking vital signs. The responsibilities also include assembling needed equipment, documenting and billing services, updating medical records, providing vaccinations and inserting needed tubing. An LPN has obtained a license after completing an educational program, usually a year long. LPN licensing and school programs vary by state. An LPN can expect to make from $16-$26 an hour depending on location and experience.

Registered Nurse (RN)

When many people think of a nurse, their mind automatically turns toward an RN. RNs coordinate a patient’s recovery, communicating between patients, doctors, therapists, dieticians and family. The responsibilities of the RN also include administering medication, conducting required tests, educating patients on diagnostic and prognostic measures, interpreting results and providing emotional support. RNs can either hold an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After obtaining the appropriate degree, the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam must be passed. An RN holding an ADN can expect to make from $21-$37 an hour, while those holding a BSN can expect to make from $22-$40. And traveling nurses who pass their NCLEX exam can earn double in short 13-week assignments. 

Learn more about nurses salaries and how they compare across the country. 

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

A CNS has a Master’s degree in nursing and tends to specialize in one specific area. This provides an opportunity to develop expertise and provide the best care to patients. They also provide assessments and exams to determine health status. Often, a CNS will act as a supervisor over other nurses to coordinate appropriate care. A CNS can expect to earn from $18-$55 an hour depending on specialty.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

An NP operates in a similar capacity as a doctor, acting as a primary care provider. An NP usually has a specialized field of experience. NPs bring the experience and practical application of working in the field as a nurse and combine it with Masters or Doctoral level studies to provide the most efficient treatment to those under their care. An NP can expect to make from $43-$58 an hour.

While there are a variety of ways to be a nurse, there is also a variety in levels of education required to ensure the best nursing care is provided, whatever the institution or need.

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