Top 25 Nursing Blogs of 2016 to Follow

top-25-nursing-blogsOne occupation that is among the most important ones for the benefit and health of the people, is nursing profession. Even though the healthcare pioneers and the brains of the healthcare occupations consist of doctors, surgeons and physicians, nurses represent the backbone of the brains and without them, any work would be incomplete.

There are some amazing websites that include various information on how to become part of the nursing community and interesting stories of the nurses. These websites and blogs provide valid resources about the nursing profession, some of which offer detailed education plans, information about the requirements for nurses-to-be, useful guidelines and ability to learn from the certified nurses. Some of the listed websites represent the organizations and communities of registered nurses and some of them provide valuable information, stories and journals  for any aspiring nurse to be. These are the top 26 nursing blogs 2016:

  • Nursingworld – American Nurses Association represent around 3,6 million registered nurses and with this great website, gather everyone from any state, who belongs to this profession offering discussion boards and forums, including professional development topics and new about nursing in general.
  • DiscoverNursing – everything you want to know about the nursing occupation from schools to scholarships, can be found on this website, ranging from schools by states and requirements a student must fulfill.
  • TravelNursing – this website offers all there is to know about travel nursing, job opportunities and benefits of this particular profession. A one-of-a-kind career portal for nurses who are in search of an adventure and flexible work environment.
  • TravelNursingBlogs – this is also one great website concerning travel nursing occupation where you can find information about career, salary, benefits and the whole life on the road. Remember tips and read advices from travel nurses across the country.
  • TravelNursingCentral – another very informative website regarding travel nursing profession and is a great and valuable source of travel nursing company reviews for any travel nurse aspiring student.
  • TheNursingSiteBlog – personal nursing blog of Kathy Quan, a registered nurse with more than 30 years of work experience. Gather the knowledge about personal side of nursing profession with Kathy Quan.
  • NursingCenter – detailed list of articles regarding continuing education, journals and e-books concerning nursing practice. Great host of credible, authoritative and evidence-based resources with daily nursing news as well.
  • TheNursingSite -registered nurse Kathy Quan is the owner and editor in chief for both NursingSite and NursingSiteBlog. On this website, she offers information for any aspiring nurse or students of nursing programs, along with the general knowledge of nursing history and issues of the profession.
  • RTconnections – Renee Thompson, a registered nurse offers amazing seminars, consulting and presentations on her blog, from anti-bullying personal campaign to her published work for any aspiring nurse-to-be.
  • TheNerdyNurse – this personal blog of an award-winning blogger and author, Britney Wilson, offers information regarding nursing, technology, healthcare IT and other useful topics connected to nursing occupation.
  • NursingEthics – Ph.Ds Chris MacDonald and Nancy Walton, published their blog where they mainly focus on the ethical side of nursing occupation, including the applied and professional ethics as well.
  • INQRIblog – short for Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, provides information about the understanding of how the nursing profession contributes and improves the quality of patient care.
  • ERnurse – personal blog of an emergency room nurse and interesting and educative tales and stories behind the ER nurse profession, including everyday events that happen to emergency room nurse.
  • MedHealthWriter – great blog of Marijke, a registered nurse with more than 30 years of experience in ICU, rehabilitation, palliative care and pediatrics and she turned her knowledge into blog writing and article writing about healthcare topics
  • ThirdAge – detailed wellness and health site for women, aged 45 and over, with many great articles about health issues, lifestyle and interactive information and research for this specific group of women.
  • MyStrongMedicine – Sean Dent, an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner with 10 years of blogging history, provides many interesting articles, stories and vlogs concerning the nursing occupation and everything it brings with it.
  • NursingNotesOfDiscord – interesting personal blog of Enid Mueller, a registered nurse working in the psychiatric ward, offers stories and tales about every-day work of a psychiatric nurse and her encounters with fellow members and patients.
  • EHRtutor – this website offers valuable information, suggestions and improvement tips for any nursing and healthcare educator or instructor with an accent to improving lectures and classes with technology.
  • AdrienneRN – Adrienne Huston, a registered nurse working in cardiology unit, writes about her nursing experience and everyday moments happening in her nursing career with personal opinions regarding her profession and patient care.
  • ERnurseCare – Leslie Block, a registered nurse with 28+ years of experience, member of the Board of Directors of non-profit organization Mommy’s Network, writes about her years of experience in healthcare field.
  • DiversityNursing – great website for aspiring nurses, offering job board information, community access and resources for all nurses regardless of sex, age, religion or education. Very informative website for students and those enrolled in nursing programs.
  • EvidenceBasedNursing – four contributors of this website, all in nursing profession, provide valuable research announcements and news, discussion forum for nurses and librarians who are interested in evidence based nursing.
  • BabyRNDeb – Labor & Delivery nurse writes about her everyday work and patients and writes personal opinions about her job, with interesting stories of the other side of labor and delivery.
  • BahalaNaNurseBlog – with 20 years of working as a Pharmacy technician, Chiqui Raveloski changed career into nursing and works as a registered nurse in telemetry unit, writing various stories personal nursing experiences and living a life with type I diabetes for 40+ years.
  • NursingSchoolInsandOuts – personal blog of an aspiring nurse-to-be, Candy, with her posts about her schooling days as a full-time RN and full-time NP student. Read about her stories about semesters, time consuming subjects and all pros and cons of being a nursing student.

How to Become a Computer Technician

With technology advancing all the time, constant technical support is in needed, especially when people encounter a problem during their day-to-day use of their computing devices. As a consequence, the jobs provided by computer technicians are essential!

Indeed these specialists are found in the majority of the industries – ranging from retail electronic stores, to IT teams within both large and medium sized companies, to customer support agencies where they aide the customers. Apart from the previously mentioned, computer technicians can also be found in industries such as those of telecommunications, health care, finance, and education.

Due to this increasing need of support in the technical field, many companies offer services day and night. Hence many of these professionals end up working 24/7.

What is a Computer Technician?

Before putting up your mind on wanting to become a computer technician, either if you want to work on your own or in the corporate world, you should first have an in depth look as to what the job consists of. Working with individual computers and computer networks, some providing support electronically while others through the phone, the role of a computer technician is to fix problems, perform installation and take care of the maintenance related both to the computer hardware and the computer software.

Examples of such tasks are running diagnostic tests, replacing faulty components, scanning and removing viruses or potential threats, uninstalling and reinstalling programs, and also taking apart hardware.  What is more, they are responsible for setting up both locally connected and networked printers, and also ensuring the connectivity of computing devices to the local area network (LAN) and the wide area network (WAN).

Step 1 – Do you have what it takes to become a computer technician?

Are you a person with an inquisitive mind? Do you love to be challenged constantly? Do you have an aptitude for electronics and gadgets? Then you might be on the right track. But if you lack the virtue of patience, I’m sorry to have to admit that I don’t think that this job is fit for you. In order to thrive in your computer technician career, you need not rush to try to fix something, but take into consideration all the factors. In addition to these four vital qualities, you need to have a logical and rational approach when it comes to problem solving. If you have all these, I honestly believe that you’ll make a good computer technician!

Step 2 – Graduate from High School

If you want to become a computer technician, don’t you even consider dropping from high school! You first have to complete your education and obtain a high school diploma or a General Educational Development Certificate in order to be eligible for any postsecondary computer technician training course. Furthermore, some subjects covered in high school could broaden your horizon and prepare you for your career. For example, English and speech courses are essential for the development of communication skills.

Top 100 Computer Technician Schools in USA:

top-100-computer-technician-schools

We’ve used several points to establish ranking methodology of the Best Computer Schools in US.

  1. We used general information found on internet, which means we have researched general opinion regarding every ranked School.
  2. We have determined how many students per year have graduated from every school on our list. (The more student graduate every year the better study conditions school offers)
  3. The total number of doctoral science programs every school have. Better offer attracts more students.
  4. We have taken into count the location of every school/university. The better location of the school more likely will students apply for that school.
  5. Schools we’ve chosen have their score represented by golden stars (1 star minimum up to 5 stars maximum). This is based on surveying every academic in every school, their total number and their science success so far.

 

Rank School name Score

#

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

[star rating=”5″]

#1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Cambridge, MA

[star rating=”5″]

#1

Stanford University 

Stanford, CA

[star rating=”5″]

#1

University of California—Berkeley 

Berkeley, CA

[star rating=”5″]
#5 University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign 

Urbana, IL

[star rating=”4.6″]

#6

Cornell University 

Ithaca, NY

[star rating=”4.5″]

#6

University of Washington 

Seattle, WA

[star rating=”4.5″]
#8 Princeton University 

Princeton, NJ

[star rating=”4.4″]

#9

Georgia Institute of Technology 

Atlanta, GA

[star rating=”4.3″]

#9

University of Texas—Austin 

Austin, TX

[star rating=”4.3″]

#11

California Institute of Technology 

Pasadena, CA

[star rating=”4.2″]

#11

University of Wisconsin—Madison 

Madison, WI

[star rating=”4.2″]

#13

University of California—Los Angeles 

Los Angeles, CA

[star rating=”4.1″]

#13

University of Michigan—Ann Arbor 

Ann Arbor, MI

[star rating=”4.1″]

#15

Columbia University 

New York, NY

[star rating=”4.0″]

#15

University of California—San Diego 

La Jolla, CA

[star rating=”4.0″]

#15

University of Maryland—College Park 

College Park, MD

[star rating=”4.0″]
#18 Harvard University 

Cambridge, MA

[star rating=”3.9″]

#19

University of Pennsylvania 

Philadelphia, PA

[star rating=”3.8″]

#20

Brown University 

Providence, RI

[star rating=”3.7″]

#20

Purdue University—West Lafayette 

West Lafayette, IN

[star rating=”3.7″]

#20

Rice University 

Houston, TX

[star rating=”3.7″]

#20

University of Southern California 

Los Angeles, CA

[star rating=”3.7″]

#20

Yale University 

New Haven, CT

[star rating=”3.7″]

#25

Duke University 

Durham, NC

[star rating=”3.6″]

#25

University of Massachusetts—Amherst

Amherst, MA

[star rating=”3.6″]

#25

University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

[star rating=”3.6″]

#28

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

[star rating=”3.5″]

#29

New York University

New York, NY

[star rating=”3.4″]

#29

Pennsylvania State University—University Park

University Park, PA

[star rating=”3.4″]

#29

University of California—Irvine

Irvine, CA

[star rating=”3.4″]

#29

University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN

[star rating=”3.4″]

#29

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

[star rating=”3.4″]

#34

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

[star rating=”3.3″]

#34

Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

[star rating=”3.3″]

#34

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick

Piscataway, NJ

[star rating=”3.3″]

#34

University of California—Davis

Davis, CA

[star rating=”3.3″]

#34

University of California—Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA

[star rating=”3.3″]

#34

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

[star rating=”3.3″]

#40

Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH

[star rating=”3.1″]

#40

Stony Brook University—SUNY

Stony Brook, NY

[star rating=”3.1″]

#40

Texas A&M University—College Station

College Station, TX

[star rating=”3.1″]

#40

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ

[star rating=”3.1″]

#40

University of Colorado—Boulder

Boulder, CO

[star rating=”3.1″]

#40

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

[star rating=”3.1″]

#40

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, VA

[star rating=”3.1″]

#40

Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, MO

[star rating=”3.1″]

#48

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ

[star rating=”3.0″]

#48

Boston University

Boston, MA

[star rating=”3.0″]

#48

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC

[star rating=”3.0″]

#48

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

[star rating=”3.0″]

#52

Indiana University—Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

[star rating=”2.9″]

#52

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, NY

[star rating=”2.9″]

#52

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

[star rating=”2.9″]

#52

University of Rochester

Rochester, NY

[star rating=”2.9″]

#56

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

[star rating=”2.8″]

#56

University of California—Riverside

Riverside, CA

[star rating=”2.8″]

#56

University of California—Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA

[star rating=”2.8″]

#56

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

[star rating=”2.8″]

#60

Northeastern University

Boston, MA

[star rating=”2.7″]

#60

University of Illinois—Chicago

Chicago, IL

[star rating=”2.7″]

#60

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

[star rating=”2.7″]

#63

Iowa State University

Ames, IA

[star rating=”2.6″]

#63

University at Buffalo—SUNY

Buffalo, NY

[star rating=”2.6]

#63

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

[star rating=”2.6″]

#63

University of Oregon

Eugene, OR

[star rating=”2.6″]

#67

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA

[star rating=”2.5″]

#67

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

[star rating=”2.5″]

#67

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY

[star rating=”2.5″]

#70

Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland, OH

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

College of William and Mary

Williamsburg, VA

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

Naval Postgraduate School

Monterey, CA

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

New York University

Brooklyn, NY

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

Tufts University

Medford, MA

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

University of Delaware

Newark, DE

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

University of Maryland—Baltimore County

Baltimore, MD

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

University of Nebraska—Lincoln

Lincoln, NE

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

University of Tennessee—Knoxville

Knoxville, TN

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

University of Texas—Dallas

Richardson, TX

[star rating=”2.4″]

#70

Washington State University

Pullman, WA

[star rating=”2.4″]

#82

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA

[star rating=”2.3″]

#82

Clemson University

Clemson, SC

[star rating=”2.3″]

#82

CUNY Graduate School and University Center

New York, NY

[star rating=”2.3″]

#82

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

[star rating=”2.3″]

#82

George Washington University

Washington, DC

[star rating=”2.3″]

#82

University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT

[star rating=”2.3″]

#82

University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS

[star rating=”2.3″]

#82

University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM

[star rating=”2.3″]

#90

Auburn University

Auburn, AL

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

Brigham Young University

Provo, UT

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Newark, NJ

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

Oregon Health and Science University

Portland, OR

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

University of Georgia

Athens, GA

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

University of Texas—Arlington

Arlington, TX

[star rating=”2.2″]

#90

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, MA

[star rating=”2.2″]

#101

Colorado School of Mines

Golden, CO

[star rating=”2.1″]

 

Step 3 – Learn all you can about computers

Although it is true that you can enroll into some introductory courses on topics such as networks and operating systems, it is more efficient and you are due to learn more if you take the matters into your own hands! You can start by disassembling an old computer you may have at home, and by using online manuals, studying how it works in detail. When studying it, make sure you go through the most primary components. Indeed you need to formulate strong knowledge and understanding of the motherboard, CPU, RAM, Hard Drive, Video Card, Sound Card, and Network Card.

Nonetheless, the hardware by itself is not functional, it doesn’t do anything. This is why you also need to know all there is to know about computer operating systems. Moreover, you must have a good command of the latest versions, being proficient in an outdated operating system such as Windows XP is completely useless! Another common source of problems arises from installing and uninstalling device drivers.

You can familiarize yourself further with this area by troubleshooting problems on your device or on that of relatives or friends, the more the better. It is also highly recommended by experts that you learn how to build your own computer from scratch! There is no better way to master this trade…

Step 4 – Obtain an Associate’s Degree, preferably in the Computer Science’s or Information Science’s field

Develop your problem solving and logical thinking skills by enrolling in an associate’s degree program which lasts between two to four years, depending on the both the course and the institution. The degree level required by future employers is dependent on the position you wish to apply for.

These courses are offered by a wide variety of private technical academies, community colleges, and even online courses. Some of the topics that may be covered along the two to four year learning period are basic electronics, operating systems application software, computer peripherals, digital logic, networks (network administration and network security), architecture, and even programming.

Most courses do not only consist of theoretical learning, quite on the contrary! As a matter of fact, most of the institutions expect the students to attend the lab classes provided as part of the course in order to gain some experience in their area of study while learning to collaborate with their fellow students.

This valued learning process, also enables the prospective computer technicians to be able to tackle more complex and advanced issues, even involving network or computer system administration. Furthermore, this associate degree makes it possible for the newly graduated students to take up a career as a computer support specialist where they are responsible not only for setting up computer workstations but also handling troubleshooting related to either software or hardware problems.

Step 5 – Gain Real World Experience

Now that you are an associate’s degree graduate, you are now eligible for applying as a customer service representative whose role is to help customers learn about new and advancing hardware and software. This is an excellent way of receiving training and putting into practice all the theoretical knowledge obtained throughout the associate’s degree course.

As the Barbara Viola, president of the Association of Information Technology Professionals says, “Many people go from working on a help desk, helping people resolve computer issues over the phone, to more hands-on, face-to-face troubleshooting. Helping users fix a problem when they are going crazy is very rewarding work.” Moreover, the annual pay given is quite good considering that you are only a newly graduate and are on your way to a more rewarding career – according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage is that of $30,580!

You may also gain real world experience by participating in online forums and chat groups, which is an excellent way to learn by watching other solve computer related problems and maybe even pitch in your own ideas!

Step 6 – Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

Many employers would rather employ with them a bachelor’s degree graduate, rather than an associate’s degree graduate since the former will without any doubt have more experience and a greater understanding and knowledge in the computer and information area. Indeed, a bachelor’s degree can lead you to more challenging yet higher paying jobs! As a matter of fact, according to a statistics published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) back in 2014, the median annual wage of computer and information system managers with a bachelor’s degree is that of $136,280!  Hence I advise you not to stop at an associate’s degree but to go further and delve deeper!

During this level, the student gets to learn in depth about specific topics. For example, those graduating from computer science, will delve into study areas such as computer servicing, network design, server administration, security management, logic structures, along with advanced mathematics.

Meanwhile pursuing your studies, you can obtain hands-on experience and create connections within the computer industry by participating in an internship. Some of these may not pay you at all, however they are very relevant and important for your resume, distinguishing you from the other people applying for the same job as you! Indeed an internship will increase your chances in an interview, so I believe it is worth the little extra effort! As an expert in the computing industry once said, internships often lead the participant to full time jobs, while those who never took part in any end up having trouble in getting their first job! So what are you waiting for?

Step 7 – Obtain a Professional Certification

While it is not obligatory, it can help if you have a professional certification; either vendor-specific or vender-neutral.

A vender-specific certification shows that you are proficient in performing specific jobs. These tests are most usually offered by product vendors and software firms, such as Cisco and Microsoft.

On the other hand the A+ certification, which is a vendor-neutral certification, is the most common certification and may be a requirement by some employers when applying for a job. This certification is a proof of your understanding of computer systems, indicating that you are able of troubleshooting problems, install, configure, maintain, perform basic networking services, as well as that you are skilled and familiar with security, environmental issues, and also safety. Apart from the fact that the A+ test is quite cheap, it will serve you as an investment as it can be advantageous when getting a job as a computer technician.

Step 8 – Find Employment

After a very long and hard journey, you have now arrived at the desired destination… You can finally start looking for a job as a computer technician! Employment opportunities vary depending on the level of education that you have achieved, that’s why I advise going through with you education! Indeed, if you have a good education and at least two years’ experience in this field, you can advance to supervisory positions, such as an IT service manager!

The key for a successful job interview

In order to find a good job as a computer technician, you need to be successful in the job interview. What questions could be posed? Firstly, it is most probable that the interviewer asks you to tell him a bit about yourself. Even though it is important to mention your academic achievements, discuss some of your hands-on experience, you may even talk about troubleshooting you carried out on your computer or on that of friends or relatives. Make it a point that you tell him why you are choosing this job in the first place – ‘From a young age, I have been intrigued by problem solving and puzzles. Moreover I love being faced with a challenge that I can reason my way out of it by using pore logic! This is what motivated me to pursue a career as a computer technician!’ Now this kind of response will probably get you the job!

Other questions you may be asked are why you left your previous job, where you see yourself in a couple of years, what qualities you possess that you think will be useful and so on. The most important thing to remember during the interview is to be honest and keep both your feet on the ground… All you need to do is to think of why you are applying for this job in the first place.

What is the Annual Pay?

According to a recent research carried out by BLS, as a consequence to the constant advancing in technology, the job growth related to computer, ATM, and office machine technicians  is expected to rise by four percent, hence your chances in finding a job in this industry is in your favor! All you have to do is play your cards right and follow all the steps on how to become a computer technician. The median annual salary of jobs within the previously mentioned industry is that of $36,560.

On the other hand, you may also want to get a career as computer support specialist. A computer support specialist is a computer technician who provides support electronically or through the phone in order to help the clients resolve their issues about hardware or software. The average salary in this case is relatively higher, amounting to around $54,960 annually!

What if you do not want to work under the constant supervision of your employers? You do not necessarily have to work with a company! According to the United States Bureau Labor Statistics, around twenty percent of the computer technicians are self-employed! Why not consider setting up your own business and see how it goes from there?

Step 9 – Why stop now?

You’ve come a long way to be where you are now, so then why stop here? Why not keep giving your utmost effort to continue improving your career? Why not setting up higher goals? Surely, if you yielded your way up until now, regardless of the constant obstacles that you may have come face-to-face with, you have potential, and room for making your future a better one.

If you wish to further advance in your career, here are some success tips I invite you to follow and abide by:

  • Take part in training courses – The majority of the companies offer training classes on various topics, among them computer networking and computer systems. These extensive three months minimum on-the-job training are usually free of charge and open to all employees. Do not miss such a chance to broaden your knowledge, and maybe even advance in your field!

 

  • Stay up-to-date with the constantly advancing technology – Technology is advancing all the time. Old systems are being replaced by newer, better versions. If you do not stay current with the technology, then you will face a greater chance of being fired and replaced! Apart from this, if you decide yourself that you want to leave your job for some reason, your chance of finding a new job is diminished fairly, even though you have experience in the field! After all, who wants something or someone whose technological knowledge and understanding is outdated?

You may ask yourselves which career paths are possible for a computer technician. Well you will definitely not be disappointed. The career of a computer technician opens many doors and makes advancement in one’s profession very vast. As a matter of fact, from the job as a computer technician, one may advance to that as a Computer or Network Support Technician, a Support Technician, a Network Administrator, or a Computer Repair Technician. From the previously mentioned careers, one may further advance to any one of the following; IT manager, Systems/Computer/Network Administrator, Senior Systems Administrator, Systems Administrator, Network Engineer, and many more!

Sometimes, the role of a computer technician may be very challenging and may literally drain your mind; however it is very fulfilling to be able to troubleshoot an intricate issue and get the device operating as it should. Furthermore, what is more rewarding is seeing the gratitude of the people whose problem you just solved!

How to become a Physical Therapy Assistant

A physical therapy assistant performs tasks and procedures created by a physical therapist that mostly involve helping people who have difficulties with movements. The patients usually need physical therapy in recovering from a movement-impairing injury, or a disease. The physical therapy assistant helps the patients in regaining their mobility, as well as reduce accompanying pain, and help overall in preventing permanent physical disability. They can also be assigned tasks regarding the patient’s regaining their former wellness and fitness. The patients usually have suffered an accident, or have undergone treatments for diseases that might cause short or long-term physical disability, including fractures, head injuries, cerebral palsy, however, a physical therapy assistant might also help in reducing the effects of arthritis, lower back pain and eliminating other causes for impaired mobility in patients.

Below, we have explained the process of becoming a physical therapy assistant, and you will be able to find out what kind of education you need, what kind of work environment you can expect, as well as how much you can earn and what the job outlook is for physical therapy assistants.

Physical Therapy Assistant or Physical Therapy Aide

In order to become a physical therapy assistant, you do not need to get a bachelor’s degree, which usually lasts four years. An Associate Degree from an accredited college or a university is enough, and it takes only two years to complete. There are many accredited programs that offer these degrees. They programs incorporate courses in general education, physical therapy courses, and clinical education courses. Once you start, you can expect about three quarters of classroom and lab study courses, and a quarter of clinical practice education, or about sixteen weeks spread out over two years.

If you do not want to get an associate’s degree, or do not have the funds for college or university, you can become a physical therapy aide. Physical therapy aides might not have an associate’s degree, but they perform very similar tasks as physical therapy assistants. They work in the same environments, help patients improve upon their mobility, and are supervised by both physical therapists, and physical therapy assistants. They help the patients with exercises regarding mobility, fitness and other treatments. Aides need to be able to help patients move – this means that they need considerable physical strength and fitness, as well as be very mobile, as they often need to kneel, bend, and even lift the patients while they are in physical therapy. Another important skill of both physical therapy aides and assistants is great communication, as they need to interact with the patients in order to be aware that the physical therapy is not doing any harm or is particularly painful. Some physical therapy assistants and aides might perform additional administrative and office tasks, although that depends more on the workplace.

The usual tasks of physical therapy aides include helping patients during mobility exercises, making sure they enter and exit the training area, as well as accompanying them to and from their rooms, especially if they have greater mobility difficulties. Aides and assistants also need to know how to correctly monitor the patients, and give detailed reports about their progress or lack of, in order to ensure the therapy is heading in the right direction. In addition, physical therapy aides and physical therapy assistants need to be very empathic and compassionate and be very patient when communicating with the patients to ensure they are comfortable and improving at the correct pace.

The difference between being a physical therapy aide and physical therapy assistant is both in education – a high school diploma is enough to be a physical therapy aide – and there is no need to get a certification or a license in order to be a physical therapy aide.

Physical therapy aides usually come by their positions by volunteering in hospitals and health centers, which enables them to get the right kind of skills for the job. However, this is not a requirement, as any physical therapy clinic or health center that hires physical therapy aides are prepared to give the necessary training to new employees, which can last anywhere from three months to a whole year, depending on the nature of physical therapy the clinic or center offers. But, while aides perform similar tasks as physical therapy assistants, they also need to take care of the therapy areas – cleaning the areas, setting up the equipment and keeping it organized, checking and monitoring patient entries and information, and other clerical tasks. On the other hand, prospective physical therapy aides are advised on taking some courses in physical therapy in order to gain more edge over possible competitors for the job. Physical therapy aides often attend college or university at the same time in order to complete their associate’s degree and become physical therapy assistants. Becoming a physical therapy aide is also a good way to start your career in physical therapy, because you can get training while on the job, making the transition from physical therapy aide to assistant easier.

Physical therapy assistant education requirements

Unlike physical therapy aides, physical therapy assistants need to get proper accreditation and license before they are eligible to be hired at clinics and health centers. In order to be viable for certification, one needs to obtain an associate’s degree that’s accredited by CAPTE, which lasts two years. These programs are designed to prepare the students to take the licensure examination, as well as prepare them for working in the field of physical therapy.

The programs cover everything from theoretical knowledge in physical therapy, to social skills and behaviors that a physical therapy assistant needs in order to be able to give proper help to the patients. Additionally, new physical therapy assistants need to be not only knowledgeable in the field, but also adaptable to every patient’s needs, and competent enough to be able to perform intervention, if needed, and be able to assert the patient’s physical health, mental health, and be able to collect the data in a comprehensive report regarding the patient’s safety and response to the treatment, before passing on to a physical therapist for assessment. Physical therapy assistants get educated in how to accomplish this legally, ethically and effectively in order to ensure the patient’s wellbeing and safety.

Additionally, physical therapy assistants never work alone, and are always part of a team. They need to be able to adapt to this type of working environment, and be trained in adaptable methods of communication, with patients, friends and families of patients, as well as members of their teams. Communication is highly important, especially if the patients are not residents of the facility or clinic, and stay at home with caregivers who need to know how to properly take care of the patients when they are not at the clinic.

Physical therapy assistant associate’s degree programs last two years, or five semesters. The curriculum is divided into three different sections: physical therapy courses, clinical practice, and general education courses. The physical therapy courses’ curriculum include anatomy, physiology, exercise physiology and biomechanics, as well as neuroscience, kinesiology, clinical pathology. In addition, the curriculum needs to cover behavioral sciences, communications and ethics.

It is very important to choose the right program, and to make sure that the program is accredited by CAPTE, because that is the only recognized accreditation agency. If you do not graduate from a program that is accredited by CAPTE, you are not eligible to sit the national licensure exam – the exam is, in turn, necessary to be hired as a physical therapy assistant. There are both campus-oriented physical therapy assistant programs and online programs, which is very convenient if you are working as a physical therapy aide while completing the degree.

Before choosing a college and a program, you should check not only whether their program is accredited by CAPTA, but also check records of licensure pass rates. If the rates are too low, chances are that despite the program being CAPTA accredited, it does not offer enough knowledge and necessary information to pass the licensure exam. Additionally, look for programs that offer more extracurricular clinical practices and visit to physical therapy clinics and health centers. The physical therapy associate’s degree programs are rarely ranked, so you will need to do your own research to ensure you get the best possible education, which will dictate your future career as a physical therapy assistant, or physical therapist.

Working environment and conditions

536fa16a27394ca47e9db4b1_icon work experiencePhysical therapy assistants can work in different places and settings. They can work in physical therapy clinics, who have both inpatient and outpatient clients, in schools, sports and fitness facilities, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, hospices, as well as home health agencies, where physical therapy assistants help patients at home. Usually, being a physical therapy assistant means working an average Monday to Friday job, with regular hours, however, in some cases both the hours and the days might vary, depending on the workplace. For example, a physical therapy assistant working in a hospital or a nursing facility will have free time in the evenings and over the weekend, as that’s when they usually offer rest for the patients. On the other hand, outpatient therapy centers and other types of workplaces might need to accommodate patients and working there would mean working evenings and weekends, comparatively.

While it is a rewarding, much needed job, it is also physically demanding. Physical therapy assistants often need to kneel, crouch, stoop to assist the patient’s movement exercises, but they also might need to lift them and carry them, especially if the patient’s physical mobility is highly impaired. On the other hand, physical therapy assistants need to be on their feet all the time, and may spend a lot of time standing and monitoring the patient. Often, physical therapy assistants need to lift heavy equipment, and help the patients walk.

Despite being a physically demanding job, being a physical therapy assistant is also very rewarding, as physical therapy assistants are the only ones who provide the patients with mobility directions and exercises, per the instructions of a physical therapist. This means that aspiring physical therapy assistants need to be prepared to be personally responsible that the patients performs all the mobility exercises correctly and achieve full health and fitness. Physical therapy is very effective in bringing back a patient’s full mobility, especially if the patient has suffered an injury which can cause permanent mobility impairment. Additionally, a lot of patients are sent directly to physical therapy instead of undergoing surgery for minor injuries, especially if the patient’s injury can be healed through physical therapy.

Since physical therapists need to plan out the patient’s treatment, physical therapy assistants are often included in the planning, as they will be the ones to provide the patient with the exercises. The exercises need to ensure that the patient regains their normal ability to move, with minimal pain and discomfort, while restoring function and preventing permanent disability. The physical therapist needs to perform a thorough examination of the patient before creating a diagnosis and a physical rehabilitation plan. The plan will need to cover exercises and possible interventions, and foresee future possible complications, depending on the patient and the cause of their impaired mobility.

Physical therapy assistants utilize various techniques, according to the plan provided by the physical therapist. These include functional training, therapeutic and physical exercise, therapy with ultrasound and electrotherapy, and deep tissue massage to prevent permanent mobility impairment. In addition, the patient needs to be provided with exercises and interventions regarding balance, correct gait, and motor development, as well as the correct way of using adaptive temporary devices such as wheelchairs, crutches and other prosthetics to minimize discomfort and muscle exhaustion. Physical therapy assistants also need to teach the patient, and his or her caregivers in outpatient cases, on the right way to move when not in therapy, and how to perform possibly complicated movements in their day to day lives.

In return, physical therapy assistants monitor the patient, their progress and response to the treatment and the mobility exercises, and make objective data report to the physical therapist to ensure the treatment is going well. They also need to be always ready to provide help to the patients in emergency situations, and ensure that the patients do not undergo further damage to their physical mobility.

In very rare cases of employment, physical therapy assistants need to know to perform clerical and administrative tasks, which include, but are not limited to: billing the patients, taking care of their medical records, coding, assessing risk management, and various other tasks within the health center or hospital.

Physical Therapy Assistant’s Work Settings

Primarily, physical therapy assistants work in hospitals or private physical therapy practices. Others work in schools, rehabilitation centers, or home health centers.

  1. Acute Care Facilities

One of the common work settings for physical therapy assistants is acute care setting – hospitals where patients are treated with physical therapy short term, who need to be treated due to illness, surgery, accident, or trauma recovery. In this setting, patients do not need extended care, and are released very quickly, compared to other settings. The patients, however, often need to undergo further treatment provided at home.

  1. Rehabilitation hospitals

In rehabilitation hospitals, patients need intensive physical therapy. It lasts at least three hours per day, often even more, within the rehabilitation unit. In this setting, patients often need help to get back on their feet and have a higher level of impaired mobility.

  1. Extended care

Facilities that offer extended care are often nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, which provide physical therapy to elderly patients. Their services vary from nursing care, to physical therapy and rehabilitation, and other services specified to elders.

  1. Private practices and outpatient clinics

This is a setting where the individual patients, most often referred to as clients, get physical therapy by going to the clinic, office, or other type of health care centers. These settings do not provide inpatient residence or facilities, and offer physical therapy to address mobility impairments that have orthopedic, or musculoskeletal nature, as well as neuromuscular injuries.

  1. Other settings

While the settings mentioned above are the most common workplaces of physical therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants often work in other places, including schools, sports centers, hospices, occupational environments, even governments and research centers. In the school setting, the physical therapy assistant needs to be prepared to work with children, ranging from pre-school ages to high school and even beyond. Sports and fitness centers provide services that do not focus on rehabilitation, but on physical fitness instead.

A special type of setting is the home setting. Again, the usual patients are elderly people who need to be provided with help from a physical therapy assistant, not at a special facility, but within their homes. In addition, the home setting refers to patients of all ages who have developmental disabilities, or need care because of a difficult injury. In rare cases, home care patients might go to a facility to receive the same type of care, as a sign of improvement and increased mobility. Another special setting is the hospice setting. At a hospice, the patients that need physical therapy assistance are patients who suffer from incurable diseases and cancers, and are usually in the last stages of life. Often, patients stay at home while receiving hospice care. These patients are provided physical therapy focused on improving their mobility, and minimizing their pain.

When it comes to occupational environments, physical therapy assistants that work in these settings provide the kind of therapy which will ensure the worker’s health, safety and productivity in the workplace.

Government settings include local, state and federal, and the physical therapy provided in these settings is focused on military personnel.

Physical therapy assistants can be employed by research centers, who focus on researching ways to improve the methods of physical therapy and in conducting discoveries in the field of physical therapy.

Conditions that need physical therapy

conditionsThe patient’s condition and cause of injury are very important when creating their rehabilitation. Physical therapy assistants need to have the information, as well as relevant knowledge of the condition, in order to ensure the patient receives correct care and physical treatment. The most common conditions include limbs and bone fractures, arthritis, burns on the hands and body, balance problems, back pain, as well as conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), developmental delays, lymphedema, and osteoporosis. In addition, causes for mobility impairment might include dislocations, headaches, pelvic pain, sport injury, strokes, and traumatic brain injuries.

Average salary, job outlook and future career

salary-icon-3Just in the USA, there are around 70 000 registered physical therapy assistants today. The median annual salary is, according a report from APTA in 2009, around $45000, depending on experience, educational degree, location, work setting and position within the organization. However, despite the large number of registered physical therapy assistants, and the downturn of the economy, demand for physical therapy assistants is on the rise. There is an expectancy of growth of about 35%, which is an impressive number, especially compared to other professions in the field of medicine and health. The 35% growth is expected due to increased life expectancy, and as the population ages, the need for physical therapy assistance will increase.

Before being eligible for hire, a physical therapy assistant needs to sit the national exam to get a license or a certificate. Before that, they also need to get an associate’s degree from a CAPTE-accredited program. CAPTE stands for the Commission of Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. People who have completed associate’s degrees from non-accredited programs are not eligible to sit the exam, and therefore, not eligible for hire. Additional recognition might be acquired through APTA. In the recognition program, physical therapy assistants are encourage to demonstrate superior knowledge and experience regarding a special field within physical therapy. While this is not required of prospective physical therapy assistants, the APTA recognition proficiency program is recommended to physical therapy assistants who wish to work in research centers.

How to become a nursing assistant (or) Orderly?

Nursing assistants, once known as the Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Service, date back to World War I where ‘The American Red Cross’ trained individuals to aid the nurses with the casualties of war. It was only in 1987 that the Congress passed the Omnibus Reconciliation which declared that trained assistants nurses could be hired to work alongside with nurses.

Indeed, nowadays the role of  nursing assistants who are found in the majority of the health care field, called CNAs (Certified Nurse Assistants) for short, is to help the patients by providing them not only with their day-to-day needs, but also monitor their vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure and sugar level, dietary restrictions and so on.

Step 1 – Do you have what it takes to become a nursing assistant?

What qualities should one have in order to be able to become a nursing assistant? First of all, CNAs must be compassionate, sympathetic and kind-hearted since they need to support their patients through difficult times, where they may be experiencing both physical and mental pain. Furthermore, nursing assistants should have a natural desire to help other people in need; in fact it could turn out to be unbearable if it is done only as a source of profit.

Additionally, they need be decision makers, not passive persons because they may come face to face with an instance where they must act fast and take quick decisions, otherwise the life of the patient may be threatened. They must also have a positive attitude to cheer up the patients when things are getting hectic or they are feeling depressed. Indeed they can be among the few who can make a difference in the lives of patients of all ages!

Since CNAs are responsible for assisting the patients with their daily routines, such as bathing them, moving them from a sitting position to a standing position, they must be physically strong; otherwise they would be unable to carry out such tasks! Working under the supervision of licensed nurses, nursing assistants must be able to treat the patients with dignity and the respect that they deserve! If you lack these qualities, I am I sorry to have to break it to you but this career is not the one you should be pursuing…

Step 2 – Enroll in a training course

In order to become a CNA, a college degree is not required since the credentials are issued by the state itself. As matter of fact, those who wish to become nursing assistants just have to enroll in a state-sanctioned training program. This specific training is of vital importance since as they will be responsible for other individuals, it is essential for them to familiarize themselves with the proper procedures and the correct protocols.

The average cost of the tuition fees is approximately that of one thousand and two hundred dollars. These training programs, which are quite challenging, are offered by many institutions; including the American Red Cross, local health care providers (example hospitals), community colleges, and vocational/technical schools. Training problems may also be provided online, however if this is the case, the majority of these online courses require the students to be present on the campus for the clinical part.

Nonetheless, due to the fact that CNA training requirements vary according to the state, those who wish to enroll in this course should check the regulations beforehand so as to make sure that the training course is recognized by their state, especially if you are considering to enroll in an online course since those which do not provide hands-on experience are not approved by most states. As a matter of fact, choosing a course that is not recognized in your state is useless and a big waste of time and money! Some of these institutions, after accepting them as new students, they may be asked to sit for a fitness test and may even carry out a background check to make sure they have a clean record!

What do the training courses focus on?

cna trainingIf you never paid any attention back in school, do not worry! Training courses offered by vocational/technical schools usually last between four to twelve weeks and, focusing mainly on both theoretical and practical training. The student gets to learn the fundamental nursing skills, about the infection control protocol, anatomy, and nutrition; preparing him to for the job market as a competitive applicant. On the other hand, those offered by community colleges lasting between six and sixteen weeks, aim to teach the students the value of compassionate and professional communication, apart from working as part of a team which enables them to become excellent team players. Whereas the training provided by hospitals, lasting between four and eight weeks, is quite fast-paced when considered to those offered by other institutions; students start working with patients from the very start. This enables the prospective nursing assistants to have a first-hand experience in the career they’re pursuing. Lastly, the four to eight weeks training course offered by the Red Cross, which is among the most well-known institutions, emphasizes on the art of care giving; including positioning, bathing and dressing the patients – in other words helping them complete their day-to-day needs.

If you have already obtained an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in the nursing area or gained a Registered nurse certificate even though graduating from college is NOT a requirement, it will be advantageous to you! Once you start looking for a job as a nursing assistant you will be a more competitive applicant, and once employed it is most probable that you will start off with a relevantly higher salary when compared to that of your fellow CNAs who haven’t completed their college education.

Step 3 – Become a fully certified nursing assistant

certificationEven though the training course has been completed successfully, you are still not eligible to start working! To start working, you must be fully certified! In order to become a fully certified nursing assistant, you must sit for the CNA State Competency Test. This mandatory exam varies according to the state you wish to work in once you are fully certified. The aim of the competency test is to fully test your knowledge and proficiency in nursing skills. In some states you can start working while waiting to take your exams for up to four months! However, for legal reasons, this is not allowed in all the states which prohibit work until acquiring this certification.

Help in finding the nearest exam center is usually given by the instructor leading you through the training course you have recently completed. I advise you to sit for this exam straight after finishing your training when all the information is still fresh in your mind. Also, in order to prepare yourself better, you can find online test prep guides (locally provided are the most convenient) and examine yourself, while increasing your confidence.

What does the exam consist of?

cna examThe competency test consists of two exams – a theoretical exam and a practical/clinical exam. The theoretical part is made up of sixty to hundred multiple choice questions. These questions are based on the theoretical notions of nursing and are mostly about the basic responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant, the newest technology and tools that are used, cautionary measures to be taken in order to safeguard to health of the patient, law and ethics, safety, mental health needs, cultural needs, client rights and so on. The following a sample of a question that may be asked during this section:

When assisting a client in learning to use a walker, it is important to:

  1. stand behind him and use a transfer belt
  2. put padding all the way around the top rim
  3. let him walk by himself so he gains independence
  4. let him practice using the walker on the day he is discharged

The clinical part is the most challenging part of the test. For the latter exam, you cannot go alone; you need to take a friend! Why’s that? The friend you will take with you for the practical test will be your patient on whom you will demonstrate your care-giving skills to the examiner! This should make you feel more at ease, a friendly face always help soften the tension…

Apart from taking along a friend, the most vital things you will need to remember to take with you are a gait belt and gloves. A gait belt is the device used for moving the patients from one position to another, for example transferring them from a standing to a sitting position or transferring the patient from the wheelchair to the bed. The examiner will most probably assess you on three to five skills such as a partial bed bath, offering a urinal or bedpan, use of a gait belt, and making an occupied bed, while keeping a close watch on whether you take the necessary procedures for infection control (for example washing your hands and wearing gloves).

If you make a mistake, do not get nervous! These things are due to happen, especially if you have the jitters. The examiner is sure to keep this in consideration and will not fail you on your first mistake. If you realize you become conscious of your error, simply inquire him whether you can re-demonstrate, he will probably allow you to do so. You will be told whether you have passed or failed the clinical part, on the spot, right after finishing the demonstration has finished.

If unfortunately, you do not manage to pass either the practical part or the theoretical part, inquire the people responsible when you can reschedule it and whether you need to retake either both parts or just the one you failed in as it depends on the state’s rules. However, if you pass both parts you can start working immediately! You are now officially a certified nursing assistant.

Step 4 – You can finally start working as a Certified Nursing Assistant

Icon-NurseSMAt last you are eligible for nursing assistant jobs. As a newly graduate, even though this will be your first job in this area, do not give up on finding a job. With nursing assistant roles expanding faster than the usual job growth rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics these work opportunities will grow by twenty one percent by 2022 – an addition of around 321,200 jobs – 730 new job openings per year, you will most likely be successful in finding your first job. This rapid growth is a result of an aging population and an increase in the number of people suffering from chronic illnesses.

Also note that it is illegal to offer your services as an independent provider. According to regulations, nursing assistants can ONLY operate under the supervision of licensed nurses. Even though one should pursue this career because he likes it and sees it as a mean of helping others, income plays a major role. The annual salary, which is dependent on many determining factors, including the state, experience, additional skills and training, ranges from twenty thousand to thirty thousand. The top paying state is Alaska, with a pay rate of $14.36 per hour, followed by New York with a pay rate of $13.63 per hour, whereas the lowest paying state is Louisiana with a pay rate of $7.57 per hour, followed by Mississippi with a pay rate of $8.16 per hour.

The key for a successful job interview

successful cnaIn order to find a good job as a nursing assistant, you need to be successful in the job interview. What questions could be asked? Firstly, it is most probable that the interviewer asks you to tell him a bit about yourself. Even though it is important to mention your academic achievements, discuss some of your personal experiences that you think will make you a good nursing assistant. Make it a point that you tell him why you are choosing this job in the first place – ‘I get along with people very well. Moreover I am a highly motivated and compassionate person; the latter is what motivated me to become a nursing assistant. I want to dedicate my time to help other people, make them feel at home and make sure they are well cared for.’ Now this kind of response will probably get you the job!

Other questions you may be asked are why you left your previous job, where you see yourself in a couple of years, what qualities you possess that you think will be useful and so on. The most important thing to remember during the interview is to be honest and keep both your feet on the ground… All you need to do is to think of why you are applying and you’re sure to do fine.

The Role of a CNA

As a nursing assistant, you are unlikely to have two or more day which are exactly the same. Your responsibilities will vary depending on whether you are working a night shift or a day shift and in which facility you will be working in. For example during a night shift, your responsibilities will include answering call lights, emptying catheters, helping patients get ready for surgery, and even provide support to people who are experiencing physical or mental pain.

The day shift is not as quiet as it the night shift. The busy hours start as soon as the patients wake up and you have to bathe them, dress them, help them eat their breakfast, and sometimes even give them their necessary medication. You must be able to manage multiple patients concurrently, for this reason you must be organised and efficient.

Being a nurse assistant is a highly demanding job; physically, mentally and emotionally. Hence it is essential to take care of yourself and not neglect your needs. In order to prevent injury, make sure you lift the patients properly. Furthermore, eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and exercise, even if not regularly, to maintain your high energy levels during work. You can also participate in activities that will help you keep a mental stamina and help you relax. I know it’s easier said than done but after all, if you do not put your effort in taking care of yourself, how can you take care of others?

The thing that you must NOT ever do is go to work if you are not feeling well yourself. This may be a threat to your patients, especially the older ones who are more vulnerable.

Step 5 – Certification Renewal

accreditation-iconAlthough it is true that you are a certified nursing assistant, many states require a certification renewal every two years. In order to be able to renew it, you must complete a minimum of forty eight hours of continuing education. Even though it differs from one state to another, the majority of the states oblige you to do a minimum of twelve hours in each year within the two year time frame. During this period you will be receiving training on healthcare issues that are always evolving such as medical record documentation, first aid, and domestic violence. This continuing education is usually paid by the employee itself. It may be the case that your employee provides you with this training himself! In either case, you will not need to spend a dime while furthering your knowledge!

Step 6 – Why stop now?

Once you become a certified nursing assistant you need not stop there. CNAs can further their career by furthering credentials, allowing them to specialize in their work. These specializations include becoming activity assistants, medication aides, wound care associates, and patient care technicians. Other opportunities such as physical therapy assistants, registered nurses, and even occupational therapy assistants are possible by continuing their education.

Even though sometimes the job may be a bit tedious due to many long hours and work which may be very demanding, nursing assistants generally confess that they feel satisfied and confident that they are pursuing the right career because they are helping other people, people who rely on them to help them get through the day. If you are a CNA you are rewarded in some many ways, ways you will not even think possible until you get to experience them yourself!

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Similar Occupations

There are other medical careers with job duties that closely relate to those of nursing assistants or orderlies. Some of these occupations are as explained below:

  • Personal Care Aides: They typically assist clients or patients with self-care and daily tasks. Personal care aides also provide social assistance and support that allows clients to take part in the communities. There is no formal educational credential and the average salary is about $20,980.
  • Home Health Aides: They usually help people with cognitive impairment, disabilities or chronic illnesses with tasks of daily living. Home health aides frequently assist people who need help. Some states allow home health aides to dispense medication and check if patients have any vital signs under the instruction of a health practitioner or nurse. There is no formal educational credential and the average salary is about $21,920
  • Psychiatric Technicians and Aides: They typically care for patients with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. The main function of psychiatric technicians is to monitor the conditions of their patients and provide therapeutic care. Psychiatric aides ensure patients are safe, living in a clean environment and help them in their daily activities. The minimum requirement is an associate’s degree from a certified occupational therapy assistant program which is licensed in most states and the average salary is about $28,320
  • Medical Assistants: Their work is to complete clinical and administrative tasks in the offices of hospitals, doctors and other healthcare facilities. However, they duties usually differ with speciality, location and the size of the practice. The minimum requirement is a postsecondary non-degree award and the average salary is about $30,590.
  • Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides: Physical therapist assistants are also called PTAs and they usually work under the supervision and instructions of a physical therapist. Physical therapist aides assist patients who are on the road to recovery from illnesses or injuries to manage pain and regain movement. The minimum requirement is an associate’s degree from an accredited program and the average salary is about $42,980.
  • Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses: The main function of licensed practical and vocational nurses is to provide fundamental nursing care. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) work under the direction of doctors and registered nurses. The minimum requirement is a postsecondary non-degree award and the average salary is about $43,170.
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides: They typically help patients grow, improve and recover the skills and abilities needed to perform daily activities and for daily living. Occupational therapy aides usually perform support tasks while occupational therapy assistants are directly concerned with providing therapy to patients. Both of them work under the instructions and supervision of occupational therapists. The minimum requirement is an associate’s degree from a certified occupational therapy assistant program that is licensed in most states. The average salary is about $54,520.
  • Registered Nurses: They coordinate and provide patient care, educate patients and the community about various health conditions and give patients emotional support and advice to them and their family members. The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program. The average salary is about $67,490.

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How to Become a Neonatal Nurse: Schools, Salary & Certification Info

Neonatal nursing is a term that defines a branch of nursing, or healthcare, that focuses on the proper infant care. Neonatal nurses have the task to provide care for infants who are born with birth defects, heart deformities, possible infections, and babies who are prematurely born. The first month to a year after birth for these infants is very important, seeing as the infants are very vulnerable and at a high risk. Fortunately, advancements in this healthcare branch, together with advancements in technology and healthcare in general has ensured that most of the infants that need this special type of care are able to overcome this difficult period and grow up into very healthy children.

neonatal nursing degreeNeonatal nurses work in special Neonatal Intensive Care Units. If you want to become a neonatal nurse, you need to follow the guidelines provided below, as taking care of the sensitive infants is a highly delicate task, and they need medical care that is highly specialized. Considering the delicacy of the tasks of a neonatal nurse, it comes as no surprise that this profession is one of the most apprehensive healthcare careers, and has a great impact on many lives.

Neonatal period is a term that refers to the first 28 days of an infant’s life, because these initial weeks of life are very important to infants in general, not only to infants that are born prematurely, or with heart deformities and infections. However, unlike normal, healthy infants, infants that are born this way need even greater care, and many of them remain in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for weeks after birth, depending on the gravity of their situation, and some of them might remain in the Unit for a year or more, if necessary.

The kind of care that the neonatal nurse needs to be prepared to give to the infant depends on the infant, and each infant is unique, and thus, needs specialized care. It depends on the infant’s overall health to begin with, but another very important factor is the infant’s gestational age, the nature of the ailments, infections or deformities it was born with, as well as the delivery method. All of these things have a say in the proper care for the infant, which is why one of the biggest tasks of a neonatal nurse is to prepare a proper plan of care for the infant, and to decide whether the infant needs intensive care and is very critical, or if the infant only needs light monitoring and is only in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a short period of stabilization.

Prospective neonatal nurses need to be prepared for the responsibility, and for the wide range of different, yet specialized care that these infants need. During the first year of life, infants need vaccines, medications and various other medical tests, and, most of the infant spend this period in incubators, and have other needs, which means the prospective neonatal nurse needs to be ready to administer the vaccines and medications in the correct way for each baby, as the tiniest mistake can have a great impact on the infant’s life. Additionally, the neonatal nurses also need to be prepared to work with incubators, ventilators, and other sophisticated medical equipment, which is what makes this position highly demanding, but also incredibly rewarding.

Below, we have elaborated on what you need to do to become a neonatal nurse, the kind of education you will need, as well as what kind of working environment you can expect, which hospitals and healthcare units you can work in, and what the average annual salary of a neonatal nurse is, and the job prospects of the medical branch in the future.

An overview – What do Neonatal Nurses do?

In normal situations, newborns, along with the new mothers, remain the hospital for a week or two after the infant’s delivery. In the past, neonatal nurses took care of the babies in this initial period of life, taking care of them and making sure that their every need has been taken care of. Additionally, infants born with heart deformities, premature infants, as well as infants born with infections were not able to thrive and, for lack of a better word, survive to toddlerhood because there weren’t enough advancements in medicine and technology to aid these babies. Today, that has changes. Neonatal nurses take care of infants that need specialized care, while maternity nurses take care of the healthy babies.

In general, since the proper care of infants depends on many factors, and needs to be specialized, there are different levels of neonatal nurses. One of the reasons for the leveled division is to give time to newly registered (more on that later) nurses time to get properly acquainted with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and to get assimilated into the workforce before moving on to upper levels to attend to babies in the upper, more specialized nursery levels.

Below is how the usual Neonatal Intensive Care Units are divided.

Level I

level I is where the healthy infants reside. Level I neonatal nurses take care of these healthy babies by monitoring them when they are not staying in their mother’s ward. They ensure that the new infant is well fed, warm, and clean. This level can be found in almost every hospital or health center, and, as mentioned above, is often tended by maternity nurses, depending on the location and organization of the hospital workforce.

Level II

Level II nursery is where infants who are affected by an ailment that is not serious, or who are born prematurely, but are generally healthy, are housed. These infants get to leave the unit and go home in a matter of weeks, sometimes even after a few days’ care. Their needs are on a slightly higher level than the needs of normal babies, because in addition to getting properly fed and kept warm, these babies often need oxygen masks, special medications, and special feeding methods and periods. However, despite the specialization, these special care units can be found in most community hospitals and health centers as Level I units.

Level III

Level III nursery wards house premature babies and babies who are ill or infected and need special care with medical equipment, such as respiratory support, as well as babies who are critically ill and need high-tech care, but not surgical interventions.

Level IV

Level IV nursery wards are the most advanced and complex wards of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This ward houses babies who are in very critical conditions, and usually need surgical interventions. The infants stay there for a prolonged period of time which can last all the way to toddlerhood, depending on the condition. This ward is staffed by neonatal nurses who are seasoned and have the most experience, as they not only need to provide the care of the previous three levels, they also need to take care of infants both before and after surgery.

Level III and Level IV wards are highly specialized, and usually a part of large hospitals in big metropolises. The neonatal nurses that staff these wards need to be prepared for long shifts, irregular hours, and quite often working on holidays and weekends, because the infants in these wards need constant care by a qualified neonatal nurse. They also need to be prepared to work together with the infant’s parents and families, and know how to interact with them and make sure that they understand their baby’s special needs, especially after discharging, because the infants housed in these two wards often need to continue their treatment after coming home.

On the other hand, level I and II neonatal nurses work in more relaxed conditions and a more relaxed atmosphere, as the babies there are usually discharged within weeks, and most often do not need extended treatment. They rarely have irregular hours, or need to work weekends and holidays, unless it is an emergency situation.

Educational background of neonatal nurses – what are the requirements?

Becoming a qualified neonatal nurse requires a lot of work and time. To begin with, you need to become a registered nurse. You can become a registered nurse by completing an associate or a bachelor degree program in college or university. An associate degree takes about two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree needs an additional two. After that, you can seek placement and positions in neonatal departments of hospitals and healthcare centers. It is highly important that you be prepared for further training on the job, and to look for internships and positions in neonatal wards before graduating in order to gain experience which will help you in your position, and help you move ahead in your career. In order to become a registered nurse, after completing a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree, you will need to go through the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

Analytical approach – Which level of education do you need?

An Associate Degree Program lasts two years and it gives you enough knowledge, credentials and training to work as a registered nurse. Most programs focus on preparing you for general nursing work in the field of medicine, but you might be able to branch out in other fields like pharmacology, psychiatric nursing, health maintenance, and patient care management. With an associate’s degree in nursing, you can work as a registered nurse in the neonatal ward, usually in Level I or Level II. It is a very good start for nurses who do not meet the necessary educational background to be registered nurses, or registered nurses who wish to branch out in different fields.

A bachelor’s degree offers a higher level of training, education and knowledge for prospective neonatal nurses. Most bachelor’s degree programs offer courses in nursing theory, but they also offer hands on experience via hands-on training in clinics and in classroom practices. After getting the bachelor’s degree in nursing, you need to take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse, after which you are eligible to work as staff in a neonatal nursing ward or department in hospitals and health centers. It is better to get a bachelor’s degree rather than an associate’s degree in nursing if you wish to pursue a career in neonatal nursing, as it gives you the educational background to continue on to graduate level in neonatal nursing.

Pursuing a graduate degree means you will get coursework specialized in neonatal nursing. Many hospitals and health centers offer their neonatal nursing staff opportunity and, in some cases, financial aid to complete their studies to move forward in their career as neonatal nurses. You can become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, or reach the highest level of Doctor of Nursing Practice. These two programs are highly advanced, and will help you improve your clinical skills, however, this does not mean that you need to abandon your work – there are plenty of programs that need only minimum attendance, and plenty of online courses to allow you to keep working as you’re pursuing your degree. After finishing these two highly advanced programs, you are eligible to work in Level III and Level IV neonatal wards, the wards that house the infants that need the most specialized care and are in extremely critical conditions. Another benefit of getting becoming a NNP or DNP is the fact that you can branch out in administrative work in these wards, and advance further in the field.

Another way to become a NNP – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner is if you already have a Master of Science in Nursing. You can use this background to attend a post-master’s program and get a certificate in neonatal nursing and become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

Registered nurses who have worked in the neonatal field can get neonatal nursing certificated from the National Certification Corporation, if they have a background of 2000 hours of experience. In order to enter a higher degree program, you need to have at least two years of experience in order to be eligible. After getting the degree, you will be able to take the NCC certification exam to be a licensed Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. The courses in these programs teach embryology, neonatal physiology, pathology, and pharmacology, in order to prepare you for clinical work in specialized infant care. These programs usually take about two years to complete, so you need to be prepared to dedicate the time and effort, if you wish to have a neonatal nursing career.

certificationBecoming certified means that you have worked for a longer period in a specialized field and that you have passed an examination, which is important if you want to explore your career in neonatal nursing. Additionally, in order to keep that certification, you will need to show active experience in the field in the manner of education credits, which are usually given to certified nurses by their employers. Getting certified will also give you a kaleidoscope of opportunities to advance your career, and achieve further specializations, especially since taking care of infants who need specialized care has so many different fields, from leadership, family education, education of other staff, as well as become a member or a leader of a research team in advanced neonatal nursing. Some of the most common further specialization certificate offered to neonatal nurses and practitioners include Neonatal Intensive Care, Neonatal Pediatric Transport, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Low Risk Neonatal Nursing, Inpatient Obstetric Nursing, Maternal Newborn Nursing, Electronic Fetal Monitoring and others.

Work Environment of Neonatal Nursing

The work environment of the branch of neonatal nursing by and large depends on the level of the ward the neonatal nurse is assigned to. Level I is where the healthy babies are taken care of, while Level IV has babies which need intensive care, life-support, and post-surgical treatment with advanced technology. Depending on the delivery method, the type of illness to befall the infant, and the level of prematurity of birth, babies are placed in either one of those levels.

This means that the usual working day of a neonatal nurse begins with going over reports from nurses from the previous shifts. A neonatal nurse needs to always be on top of the infant’s medical history, current condition and if there had been any changes, as well as what kind of education has been given to the infant’s family, and whether that needs to undergo changes as well. This requires a high level of concentration, especially if the ward houses a large number of babies. Every infant needs to be constantly monitored: the performance of the heart and the lungs, as well as full physical assessment, and then administer any medications or preparations if such acts are needed. In the higher levels, especially III and IV, a neonatal nurse needs to draw blood for diagnosis, and properly asses the infant’s condition and determine the proper care for the following shift, day, or even week in advance, or, make proper changes to a previous plan according to new readings and results from previous examinations of the infant.

The neonatal nurse also needs to be able to properly educate the members of the infant’s family, especially the infant’s parents, and be able to communicate with them in a kind and understanding manner. It requires a lot of patience and concentration, as well as quick thinking and capability to calm the parents down should they panic, something that occurs very often if their infant is in critical condition.

Other responsibilities include attending a delivery in case the newborn needs instant intensive care due to pre-natal complications. Another part of a neonatal nurse’s capabilities and responsibilities will fall under transport of infants in critical conditions from one department to another within the hospital, or within different hospitals (especially since Level II and IV are quite uncommon in community hospitals and small health centers). At the end of the day, the neonatal nurse needs to craft a report for the neonatal nurses coming in the following shift, to enable them to continue where they left off in the care of the infants.

Neonatal nurses need to be able to conduct critical thinking and be very quick at taking critical decisions. An infant’s health changes daily in neonatal wards, and the health status of each baby needs to be constantly updated and monitored. Another important skill is attention to detail, because a neonatal nurse is expected to work with sensitive and high-tech equipment, such as fetal monitoring units, blood pressure cuffs, oxygen administration devices, infant feeding supplies, intravenous catheters, as well as know how to use specialized software that comes along with the advanced technological equipment.

Neonatal nurses also usually take care of more than one infant at a time. Prospective neonatal nurses should be prepared for a fast working environment, and be able to split their attention equally between all of their charges. They also need to be prepared to create a good method of communication with his or her colleagues, and be able to work as a part of a big team that works on keeping the critical infants not only healthy, but alive. It makes for a very fast, very demanding job environment, however, it also makes the work incredibly rewarding. Last, but not least, a neonatal nurse needs to be prepared for infantile death – because advancements in technology can only do so much with the extremely critical cases, cases that are quite often terminal. A neonatal nurse needs to be prepared to maintain composure, be emotionally and psychologically stable and be able to deal with both the good and the bad at the job.

Salary and job outlook of neonatal nursing

salary-icon-3In 2014, the average annual salary of registered nurses was $66,640. This number refers to all nurses, and it is not specialized by fields in which the nurse works. According to the information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Minimum annual salary of a registered nurse (RN), not depending on the field he or she is working in, is $45,880. Depending on specialization, hospital, health center and location, a registered nurse can earn up to $98,880 per year. Salaries also rise if the nurse has a higher level of education, especially if they have a masters or a doctorate degree.

Neonatal nurses who have a master’s degree and become NNP’s, have annual salaries that average around $95,350, but this number usually rises if the NNP has a doctorate.

Due to advancements in technology and medicine, the job outlook for the profession and career in neonatal nursing looks very promising, with a growth of 19% for neonatal registered nurses, and an even higher 34% for NNPs. This is also aided by the sad fact that in modern times, one of every eight babies is born prematurely and needs special care to reach toddlerhood and later childhood. The predicted job growth of 34% for neonatal nurse practitioners stems from the fact that most hospitals and employers prefer to hire registered nurses who have at the very least a bachelor’s degree, and who are prepared to advance further into the field, which is what makes it imperative that aspiring neonatal nurses take the time and put in the effort into getting certified.

How to Become an RN: Programs, Salary & Career

What registered nurses do?

If you’ve ever been in a hospital or in any type of healthcare facility, you’ve probably seen and met some nurses there. The ones dressed in scrubs of different color, often walking around or taking notes, records or carrying medication, are registered nurses. Even though they’re not doctors or physicians, they do perform some major duties that are very much important for patients. They cover many of the medical and the administrative roles, take care of patients and educate them about their health conditions. Registered nurses not only cover medical roles, but their duty of offering personal support is of great importance for the patients and their families as well.

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nursing-iconTheir duties consist of :

  • Keeping medical records
  • Administering medication
  • Monitoring patients and their vital signs
  • Setting up plans for patients’ care
  • Consulting with other members of healthcare teams
  • Helping in performance of diagnostic tests
  • Analyzing test results
  • Educating patients
  • Advising the patients about treatments at home

Duties and tasks a registered nurse performs often varies according to the type of patients they work with and the place in which they work. There are different types of nurses, such as :

Neonatology nurses who work with newborn infants that are born with birth defects, infections, surgical problems or prematurity. Neonatal nursing often consists of taking care of the newly born infant during a short period of time, but sometimes can last up to 2 years of taking care of a particular baby.

Intensive and critical care nurses working with critically ill or at risk of deadly illnesses. They work in various healthcare facilities and units such as intensive care unit, trauma unit or coronary care unit. ICU nurses use their extended knowledge to maintain life-support systems of critically ill or dying patients.

Addiction nurses, sometimes called substance abuse nurses keep records and treat patients who are addicted to drugs, alcohol or other substances. Because most of addictions cover both physical and mental addiction, these nurses are trained in both medical field and are trained to emotionally support patients, often performing duties concerning mental health of a patient.

Pediatric nurses assist pediatricians in maintaining medical records of children. This means they keep record of their patient’s height, weight and development. Some of them are responsible for vaccinations and immunizations. They deal with every day injuries or colds, often making final diagnosis of illnesses and injuries.

Aside with the mentioned fields of medicine a registered nurse can work in, there are many other varieties and specialties they can work in and their professions is very diverse. Ranging from working with deadly injured, ill, addicted, old or young patients, registered nursing is one job everyone can find attractive and long-lasting. If you decide to become a registered nurse, first thing you should consider is what kind of nursing do you want to do. After you pick your most interesting nursing profession, you can start building your career as a registered nurse. Completing one of three programs which are offered to finish in order to become RN, brings you into the world of a different side of healthcare professions. Having Master’s, Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in nursing opens the door to great job opportunities, salaries and irreplaceable work experience. After graduation, students sign-up for examination through  National Council of State Boards of Nursing. After that, they must successfully pass NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination) exam. So, by either obtaining a nursing diploma or a degree, you will be able to start working as a registered nurse.

Work environment

Depending on the exact field of medicine they work in, registered nurses can be found working in hospitals, physician’s offices, emergency rooms, rehabilitation centers and in many other healthcare facilities. They work in shifts or with no permanent time frame. They’re often required to work overtime, during weekends or in emergency hours, which means their work hours are very unpredictable. Registered nurses most of their time spend on foot, walking, bending and standing. They are obligated to follow strict guidelines and procedures, because they sometimes work with patients who suffer from infectious diseases. In some cases, they may work with hazardous materials and drugs. Registered nurses that work in healthcare facilities that work around the clock, cover 24 hours of work hours, often in shifts, while others that work in nursing homes or schools, work regular business hours.

The most often injuries are related to back pain due to the nature of their work. Long hours of constant walking, transporting tools and maintaining equipment cause back injuries. Also, the danger of getting exposed to radiation or infections may seriously harm nurses’ health.

Responsibilities of a registered nurse also include:

  • Observing a patient’s behavior and the effects of given treatments
  • Diagnosing the disease or infection by analyzing and recognizing symptoms
  • Maintaining patient’s medical history
  • Providing and carrying out medication
  • Keeping records on inventory and supplying it with required medication
  • Providing care in emergency situations
  • Educating nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses
  • Providing emotional support to patients and members of their families when needed
  • Cooperating with doctors and physicians in coordination of health treatment plans of patients

Other duties they are expected to perform are:

  • Maintaining environment of patients rooms, keeping everything clean and sanitary
  • Preparing beds and rooms by decontaminating equipment
  • Preparing patients for examinations
  • Recommending medication or other treatments to patients, such as physical therapy, rehabilitation options or inhalation treatments
  • Assisting doctors and surgeons during surgical procedures

If you’re looking to become a registered nurse, you may prepare yourself for long working hours and busy weekends and holidays as well. You will be expected to always perform your duties in high quality manner and to be both physically and emotionally stable. Your ability to perform and do your work will influence your earned experience and even your salary. Through hard work, you can progress in this occupation and continue to improve your qualities and job curriculum.

How to become a registered nurse?

First of all, as a perfect candidate, you must possess some important skills and abilities in order to pass strict procedures of enrolling in any program or licensing exam. As an aspiring student, you will be required to hold or improve some qualities that are needed in this occupation.

Skills and qualities

Some of the most important skills and qualities include:

  • Communication skills – a registered nurse-to-be must possess good communication skills. They are required to communicate properly and effectively with patients. RN’s need to be able to thoroughly explain certain procedures to patients, such as information regarding surgeries, medication and therapies. In addition, they must possess great teamwork skills in order to perform their duties perfectly with other members of health care team.
  • Empathy – Compassion plays a vital role in some fields of medical profession. Patients that are in intensive care units often require emotional support during their treatments. Some cases of treating patients may influence nurses’ emotional stability, so a good registered nurse must learn how to control emotions and provide support when needed.
  • Organizational skills – Registered nurses often work with a great number of patients which means they are required to maintain organization with lots of different medical records, medication and treatment details. It is of great importance that a registered nurse is able to perform simultaneously many different duties at once.
  • Great physical stamina – due to often moving, walking and bending, registered nurse must have good physical health. Endurance is required for performing tasks that demand physical strength and stamina.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Registered Nurse?

It is commonly known and widely accepted that healthcare and medicine are indisputably one of the most important areas of human activity overall. Since healthcare workers help us maintain our general body as well as mental health, it is easy to conclude why this area is so essential.

When it comes to the area of healthcare and the working occupations related to it, first ones that come to minds of the majority of people are a doctor, and of course, a registered nurse. Therefore, this article aims to determine how long it takes to obtain all the skills and the educational level required for the one who desires to become a registered nurse.

The official title of this noble position, according to various articles, such as the following one: http://www.visabureau.com/australia/anzsco/jobs/registered-nurse-medical-practice-job-australia.aspx is a registered nurse (medical practice). According to the article, nurses need to have various skills, such as being polite and approachable and to have broad knowledge in the field of healthcare and medicine.

When it comes to how long it takes to become a registered nurse, it depends on the type of education, which lasts approximately for two to four years, if an undergraduate level is at stake. In addition, to become a registered nurse, one also has to complete a training program that lasts for one year.

Education and training

As mentioned before, there are three ways of becoming a registered nurse. Bachelor’s, Associate’s degree or diploma of an approved nursing program.

  • Associate’s Degree – these programs require around 2 years of college academic credit. Associate’s degree programs are offered in many community colleges or private vocational schools. Some of the courses that you will be required to complete are: anatomy, biology, physiology and nutrition. In addition to nursing classes, you may be required to complete social sciences, humanities or communication classes. Completing an Associate’s degree consists of clinical rotations and nursing classes because it blends hands-on training with class work.
  • Bachelor’s Degree – opposing to a 2-year duration of an Associate’s degree completion, Bachelor’s requires 4 years of college academic credit. These programs are offered in colleges and universities. This program includes additional training and more detailed knowledge gained during studies. Program incorporates both coursework and clinical classes. In addition to general nursing classes, this program may include classes in health assessment, public and global health and emergency care.
  • Diploma from an accredited nursing program – these programs are hospital-based courses that provide hands-on training together with nursing coursework. Even though this way of becoming a registered nurse is less wanted due to the fact that it provides no degree after completion, it is still one of the ways of gaining your RN recognition. This program provides students with general knowledge of basic nursing care, which means they are required to complete some side classes as well.

License and certification

certificationIn all of the US, District of Columbia and other US territories, registered nurses are required to obtain a nursing license. That means that after graduation from any of the accredited nursing programs, RN’s have to successfully pass a National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Even though this exam is required in all US states, other requirements for licensing may vary from state to state. In order to inform yourself of mandatory requirements to get your licensure, you should gather info from National Council of State Boards of Nursing. This licensing examination has a purpose of establishing if you’re safe to begin your registered nurse career as an entry-level RN. Students are required to answer from 75-265 questions with a maximum of 6 hours to complete your exam.

Even though earning a certificate is voluntary, licensed registered nurses often apply for certification in specific fields of nursing, such as neonatology, gerontology, pediatrics or ambulatory care. Those who wish to pursue a certain career path, enrolls in certificate training programs to ensure that their knowledge and skills adhere to a higher standard. It is a great bonus for any employer who wishes to hire specific registered nurses. Some of the most common coursework in a certificate program includes classes in: anatomy, physiology, medical-surgical nursing, nutrition and specialized needs nursing. Clinical classes and nursing classes vary, depending on the direction of nursing occupation a students wishes to obtain. If you wish to pursue nursing career in Maternal Newborn Nursing, Acute Care Nursing, Pediatric Primary Care Nursing or any other type of nursing occupation, you will want to obtain an accredited certificate in order to specialize in that particular practice.

Conclusion

petition_icon_large_red (1)Once you decide whether you wish to pursue a 2-year Associate’s degree, 4-year Bachelor’s degree or obtain a nursing diploma, you should consider all advantages or disadvantages a certain program holds. Include your time management, tuition fees of any program, mandatory requirements and the availability of program you wish to enroll in. Take your time and choose carefully, because this type of career demands more than 2 years of your life to only gain access to the job outlook of registered nurse practice. When you successfully complete accredited program, getting a certificate in a particular specialty gives you better job opportunities and fulfills your job curriculum. Even though licensed registered nurses already have great prospects for future employment, those with additional credentials and certification start their career with better salary and work conditions. Registered nursing is a very promising career which demands a lot, but also provides plenty. Enrolling in such a career takes time and strength, but once you complete all the requirements, you can begin with building up your profession of nursing in any way possible.

Salary

Icon_salaryAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for registered nurses was around $67,490 in May, 2015. The lowest 10$ of registered nurses earned less than $46,360, while the highest ranking 10$ registered nurses earned approximately $101,603 per year. The top industries in which registered nurses worked in report median annual wages as follows:

-Government………………………………………….$72,100

-Hospitals (local, state, private)…………………$69,510

-Home healthcare services……………………….$63,840

-Physician’s offices…………………………………..$60,820

-Nursing care facilities……………………………..$60,370

Salary numbers often vary and depend on the level of degree, experience and type of employer. Registered nurses with Bachelor’s degree earn more than RN’s with Associate’s or a diploma.  According to payscale.com, registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree, earn around $60,404 annually, while registered nurses with Associate’s Degree in Nursing earn approximately $58,486 per year. Hourly rate of a registered nurse varies between $20,80 – $38,52.

  • Experience is also a vital component of payment in this occupation.Entry-level registered nurses earn around $53,000 with up to 5 years of experience, RNs with 5-10 years of experience have a salary of $60,000 per year, experienced registered nurses with 10-20 working years earn median annual wage of $65,000 and RNs in their late career with over 20 years of work experience earn around $68,000.
  • Location also is included as an important factor of registered nurses salary. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that top paying states for this occupation are: California with $90,860 annual median wage, Massachusetts with $86,810 annual median wage, Hawaii with $83,950 median annual wage, Alaska with $82,080 median annual wage and Nevada with $77,840 median annual wage. Top paying Metropolitan areas are all in California and those are: Vallejo-Fairfield, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Oakland-Fremont-Hayward and San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City.
  • Type of employer and industries are one such factor that salary of a registered nurse depends of. Top paying industries for this occupation are: Personal Care Services with $85,940 median annual wage, Lessors of Real Estate with $81,850 median annual wage, Securities and Commodity Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage with $81,090 median annual wage and Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing with $80,290 median annual wage.

So, according to statistics, there are various factor that include your salary’s numbers and hourly wages. Ranging from the type of degree you mastered, experience gained while working and the industry in which you work, payment significantly differs. Once you begin working as a registered nurse, you can already influence on your beginner’s salary if you have a higher level of education, such as Bachelor’s degree. If you’re more experienced in this occupation, that also adds to the bonus and if your employer is one of the top paying ones for this occupation, that is additional beneficial factor. Needless to say, there are many bonuses and benefits to your salary which you gain throughout your career.

Job outlook

Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment for this occupation is projected to grow by 16% from 2014 to 2024 which is considered much faster growth than the average for all occupations. Since the number of aging population is slowly but steadily increasing, the demand for health care services is also on the rise.

There will be more patients with chronic diseases like dementia, diabetes, heart conditions and similar, which will require a larger number of registered nurses. Also, the increased emphasis on preventive care needs more educated staff including registered nurses who teach and educate other member of healthcare occupations and patients as well on how to maintain and live a healthy life. Growing population with obesity problems also require registered nurses for leading and encouraging diet treatments. Baby-boom population is in need of many registered nurses with experience in pediatrics and neonatal care, which is an additional reason for major outlook increase. Constant increase in physicians, surgeons and other medical practitioners require high quality registered nurses who will help them perform important tasks, treatments and surgeries. Because of the federal health insurance reform, more people will be given health insurance and will have access to primary and preventive care services which means more registered nurses will be required in physician’s offices, clinics and other similar healthcare settings.

The number of employed registered nurses in 2014 was approximately 2,751,000 and projected employment number by 2024 will grow to 3,190,300. To summarize the collected information and data, job prospects for RNs is looking good.

Aspiring RNs with higher levels of degree will have better job opportunities due to the fact that employers often look for Bachelor’s degrees as opposing to diplomas or Associate’s degree. Work experience only adds to the fact that RNs with many working hours behind them more easily become candidates for employment as well.

Choosing a registered nurse career brings you lots of diversity in work environments and different types of patients. It allows you to find a perfect working place and industry you wish to pursue your career in. Once you gain a degree or a diploma, you may want to consider improving your knowledge by earning a certificate in any specialty of this occupation. Starting from being a RN can lead to becoming charge nurse, certified Acute care nurse or any other promising career type of this occupation. It is important to spend your valuable time of studying for RN on the best programs and courses, collecting working hours and soon enough you will be watching your salary increase and your career progress at a fast pace. Although it takes years to accomplish registered nurse status, sometimes even up to 7 years, once you earn your license and successfully pass licensing examination, you will be able to choose anything you want and how you want it. Entry-level salary looks very good, imagine then how much you can increase it when you get more experienced in time. The most important thing before you enroll in this career, is deciding at what degree you want to start working and how much time are you ready to give for pursuing a RN career.

How To Become A Nail Technician

Have you ever looked at someone’s wonderfully manicured nails and wondered how they keep it neat and tidy? Have you ever seen cute, colorful nails and wondered who did those? The answer is through the help of nail technicians.

Becoming a nail technician is not as popular a career as others but it is still a very exciting one. It allows you to interact with different kinds of people and make them feel good about themselves. It is the perfect career for those who are creative, patient, people-oriented, and into the latest beauty and fashion trends. It is also a good career for someone who enjoys working with their hands.

What Do Nail Technicians Do?

As the name implies, the basic work of nail technicians is to keep their clients’ nails as neat and clean as possible. One of the services that many clients enjoy from nail technicians are pedicures, probably because it takes a lot of effort to clean the nails on our own feet. However, in actuality, their work is much more than that. A nail technician, also known as a nail tech or a manicurist, is someone who is an expert on grooming the nails on both the hands and the feet. Apart from cleaning, trimming, and filing the nails, they can also apply polish, provide cuticle care, give nail extensions, and basically do anything that has to do with beautifying nails.

A more important specialization of nail technicians is the maintenance of the health of customers’ nails. This is done through proper cuticle care and relaxing massages for the hand, feet and calves. Some nail technicians even go as far as applying moisturizers, scrubs, and wax dips on their customers in order to increase their level of comfort. Nail technicians are considered experts in their field and thus must be able to assess the nails’ health simply by looking at them. They must also be able to give customers good suggestions on how to strengthen their nails and keep them healthy.

The typical nail technician’s day is quite busy. They do not only focus on nails but also on paperwork. At the start of the day, they will have to look over all the appointments that they have and review the services that their clients will require for the day. All tools and equipments should also be checked to ensure that they can provide all services completely and efficiently. While there are no customers, nail techs can schedule new appointments or confirm future ones.

A nail technician should be organized and pay close attention to details. They should always make sure that their files, cuticle knifes, emery boards, and other tools are always clean and sanitized. This ensures that the customers’ nails don’t get damaged or infected.

A good nail technician will not just focus on the nails itself but also on the client. He/she should spend some time discussing how the client cares for his/her nails, the challenges that he/she is facing with them, and what they can do to avoid these challenges. Apart from nail concerns, they should also get to know their clients’ preferences. Different clients will have different preferences when it comes to their nails, and getting to know them and their preferences will build strong relationships with them. This, in turn, will build customer loyalty, which is essentially the strongest building block of nail facilities everywhere.

To summarize, a nail technician basically does the following things:

  • manicures and pedicures
  • cleaning, filing, and polishing nails
  • applying extensions and false nails; repairing those that are broken
  • decorating nails
  • checking the health of customer’s nails
  • recommending proper nail care products and procedures
  • scheduling appointments
  • keeping tools and other equipment clean and sanitized

Work Environment

Nail technicians are often seen in salons and spas, and usually work for more or less 37 hours in a week. This career is a service-oriented one, so most nail technicians will need to work during evenings, weekends, and even holidays. Those who work in salons and spas will obviously work with other technicians and/or hairdressers, therapists and beauticians.

If you want to work alone, however, you can always choose to be a freelance technician or self-employed. This means that you work from home or you visit clients wherever they need your services. Choosing to be a freelance nail technician would mean that you have your own tools and equipment while choosing to work in other establishments means that these are supplied for you. It has been reported that of all the licensed nail technicians available, 33% put up their own salons.

These are not the only places you can find nail technicians, though. If you look around, you will see that nail technicians can also work in medical facilities, department stores, tourism industries, cruise ships, health clubs, with photographers and fashion designers, and in other recreational facilities. In fact, you can also find them in schools as instructors for the future nail technicians.

How To Become A Nail Technician

nailsTo become a nail technician, you will not only need to take up a nail technician or cosmetology program that is approved by the state but also meet the licensing requirements that it sets.

A cosmetology program takes longer to complete than nail technician programs because the former does not only focus on nails but also about other areas of beautification, such as the face, hair, and skin. Conversely, a nail technician program only focuses on nails. To be able to take any of these courses, most states would require you to be 16 years or older, and must have completed high school or at least have a GED.

Once an individual is in the program, he/she will learn about everything that affects the health of a person’s nails. He/she will also be familiarized with all the products and chemicals that can be used for proper nail hygiene. Safety and sterilization are of utmost importance in the nail service industry, so courses based on these weigh heavily in any program’s curriculum. Students will also learn about the laws pertaining to nail safety and what procedures they should follow in case a client gets injured during routine services. There will also be some courses that teach students proper massage techniques that can be used to relax the customer.

Many people would regard becoming a nail technician as a ditzy career just because it has something to do with beautifying a person. However, what most people don’t know is that nail technicians also study the science behind what they do. They need to know the physiology and anatomy of the nails, the different kinds of nail disorders that can affect it, and the theories behind each of the services that they offer.

Nail technicians would also need to learn about management in case they are planning to put up their own salons. For this reason, many nail technicians are very well-versed with the laws and regulations that affect their work.

Simply said, an individual who wants to become a nail technician should first take the following classes, among others:

  • History of Nail Care
  • Safety, Sanitation, and Sterilization
  • Public Health and Personal Hygiene
  • Nail Care Tools, Machines, and Equipment
  • Nail Care Chemicals
  • Basic and Advanced Manicures and Pedicures
  • Nail Design and Artistry
  • Nail Extensions
  • Light Cured Gels
  • Sculpting and Fabric Procedures
  • Acrylic Nails
  • Nail Products
  • Massage Techniques
  • Professional Ethics
  • Bacteriology and Nail Disorders; and
  • Laws and Regulations on Nail Care

Of course, students will not properly learn from theory alone. For this reason, nail technician or cosmetology programs offer a mixture of theory and practical learning for their students. This means that apart from classroom settings, students will also get to train hands-on with different clients. This gives the students a chance to familiarize themselves with the actual work environment of a nail technician. This will also help them do better in the licensing exams that is required by most states for an individual to become a nail technician.

Many schools still follow the traditional method of learning—in an actual school—while some allow students to earn their certifications online. Both methods of learning are accepted by the state as long as the individual passes the licensure examination for nail technicians.

Apart from completing the necessary educational qualifications, an individual aspiring to become a nail technician should also possess the following skills:

  • creativity
  • dexterity
  • customer service and people skills
  • business skills
  • attention to details
  • organization

After earning a nail technician license, an individual can then begin his/her career as a nail technician—whether it’s in a salon, a spa, or an individual business.

It is interesting to note that majority of nail technicians are immigrants, so some schools don’t require students to learn English just to be able to complete the course.

Salary

nail-technician-salary-chartThe median salary of nail technicians in the year 2013 was at $19,340 per annum, which is roughly $9.24 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the same year, the lowest annual salary of a nail technician is at $16,650 and the highest is at $29,560 but this amount varies depending on the state and the work environment you choose to work in.

Nail technicians working in a public company, for example, can earn anywhere from between $10,174 to $47,166 annually while those working for a private company can earn between $16,200 and $30,000. Those who work in offices of physicians can earn somewhere from $20,380 to $29,330 annually while those who work in other organizations can earn an amount ranging from $12,208 to $31,444. Nail technicians working in department stores, travel industries, and other recreational industries can earn anywhere from $25,070 to $27,860.

In the United States, the states who have the highest paid nail technicians are Alaska, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota, and Tennessee. Those who choose to work in the United Kingdom can expect to earn an equivalent of $26,106 while those who choose to work in Australia can expect to earn an amount between $20,500 and $47,210. Finally, those who choose to work in Canada can earn anywhere between $16,742 and $34,180.

Apart from the difference in location and work environment, there are other factors that can affect how much a nail technician can earn. One of these factors includes the years of experience that a nail technician has. A nail technician who has only 1 to 4 years of experience, for example, will only earn a minimal amount while a technician who has 5 to 9 years experience can earn at least $2,000 to $41,000 more per annum. This amount increases as the technician earns more years of experience.

Someone who is a licensed cosmetologist will also earn higher than a nail technician because he/she can also do customers’ hair and makeup, among others. Cosmetologists would generally earn somewhere between $16,850 to $42,360 annually.

Of course, since nail technicians work in the service industry, they also receive tips. These tips greatly increase a nail technician’s annual income and can even reach up to $986 a year if clients are happy with their services.

Job Outlook

icon_blue_searchThere is a phenomenal outlook for nail technician jobs everywhere, with the growth rate expected to be at 16% from the year 2012 to 2022. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a faster rate than other occupations. In fact, nail care services are so in demand that it has already earned an estimated $8.2 billion. There are also many nail technicians that have been in the business for more than 12 years—enough for us to assume that the business is doing well.

People everywhere are also very concerned about how they look, especially because of how the media portrays beauty. This, combined with more spending power and less time for personal care, will ensure that beautifying services will be booming in the foreseeable future. Having your nails done is also a very relaxing way not only of feeling beautiful but also keeping your nails clean and healthy.

With all the salons, spas, and health and beauty industries available, it will be fairly easy to gain employment as a nail technician, especially if you are exceptionally good at it. The best part is that you are not limited to becoming a nail technician per se—you can also choose to become a salon manager, a school instructor, or even your own boss.

California is one of the top states for nail technicians in the U.S. In 2013, it was reported that there were nearly 86,000 nail technicians in the state, working in over 6,300 salons. This is not a surprise given the fact that there are already 250 salons and 2,200 technicians working in San Francisco alone. It is also good to work as a nail technician in California because it is a trendsetting state. It is definitely the place to be especially if you want to be on top of all the latest fashion and trends in nail care.

Training Programs

business-training-icon-8The training requirements for a licensed technician would vary from state to state. Some would require students to train only for 200 hours while others would require up to 800 prior to taking the licensure exam. However, the average number of training hours required in the United States is approximately 375 hours. Majority of the states require students to receive this training inside the classroom but there are also some states that allow students to train outside the classroom as an apprentice.

Training programs last from 3 to 12 months, depending on the school and the classes that the student will enroll in. Of course, a student who takes a part-time training program will take longer to graduate than a student who enrolls full-time. Those who choose to take a Master’s degree in nail technician will also take a longer time before they graduate. Some states would also require those holding a Master’s degree to take a master nail technician exam after graduation.

Training does not stop before graduation, though. Apart from the fact that trends and fads keep changing, there is an influx of new products, techniques, and technology with regards to nail care and beautification. A good nail technician should be able to keep up with all these changes and be able to apply them to his/her work. This can be done by attending short courses run by nail product manufacturers and other lecturers. There are also more advanced courses available in colleges and private training centers. You can find out about these courses through the Internet, by reading newsletters and trade magazines, and by going to nail care trade shows and exhibitions. Those who are self-employed can also take additional training and qualifications so that they can offer services other than nail arts.

Details about other professional development opportunities can be found in the Habia Skills Academy.

Certification Programs and Licensing

Certificate_seal-512As mentioned above, a license will be required for anyone practicing nail technician jobs. This license can be obtained by taking a licensure examination for nail technicians, which can only be taken once an individual has completed the required curriculum and hours of training. It is important to note that just because you’ve earned your license doesn’t mean the education is over.

Nail technician licenses should be renewed regularly. Before renewal, some states may require nail technicians to take continuing professional education. Many states also require technicians to take quizzes regarding safety and sanitation in order to ensure that they are still knowledgable about the guidelines set by the state. There is usually a small fee involved in getting and renewing a license but it is relatively affordable.

In California, the licensure examination is made up of a written and a practical test, made by the National Interstate Council of Board of Cosmetology (NIC). The tests are taken on the same day, and may be taken in different languages, such as English, Spanish, Korean, or Vietnamese. Again, this is just in California. Licensure examinations in other states may differ.

Basically, the following steps are needed for a career as a nail technician.

  • complete an approved nail technician program
  • apply for a nail tech examination and initial license
  • take the examination for nail technicians
  • renew your license and explore other career options

It is important to note that some states may accept a nail technician license from another state but this is not true for all the states in the U.S. It is best to check with the nail technician board in your area to make sure.

Conclusion

petition_icon_large_blueNail technicians have very rewarding and exciting jobs. They get to meet new people and form new friendships everyday, and even form strong relationships with their existing customers. It consists not only of cleaning nails but also keeping them healthy. As a nail technician, you can make people feel beautiful inside and out, which does not only improve the customer’s mood but also your own.

Contrary to popular belief, nail technicians are not just about glitz and glam. There is also science behind it and it also takes a lot of studying and sacrifices just to get a license to practice nail technician jobs. The best thing about choosing to have a career as a nail technician is that there are endless possibilities for career advancement. From a nail technician, you can take additional courses and experiences in order to become a manager, or you can save up and start your own salon.

So if you are a people person who is interested in the latest fashion and trends, if you are creative, organized, and interested in making others feel good about themselves, then you should consider a career as a nail technician. Read up on nail technician programs offered near you today, apply for a program that you want, and start your career as a nail technician today.

How to Become a Surgical Technician: Programs, Certification & Salary

One important yet not-so recognized career in the medical field is that of a surgical technician. Surgical technicians are known by many names, including surgical technologists, operating room technician, surgical assistant, and scrubs tech, among others. Whatever you choose to call them though, there is no denying that they are integral parts in the surgical process.

Safety and efficiency are very important in any surgery, and the skills of surgical technicians are very helpful to achieve these qualities. Since they are so important, what exactly does becoming a surgical technician really entail?

What Do Surgical Technicians Do?

Basically, a surgical technician assists surgeons during, before, and after surgical operations. They are closely monitored by surgical nurses, surgeons, or other medical professionals, and they ensure that the surgeries go smoothly and that the patients come out infection-free. Though it may seem like the job is fairly easy, surgical technicians actually do a lot more than just assist.

The basic duties of a surgical technician would depend on what his/her position is in the company but the most common duties are the following:

A surgical technician is expected to prepare the patient and the operating room before procedures. Apart from prepping the patient and checking the patient’s vital signs and charts, the surgical technician should also be able to provide the patient with emotional support. Surgeries are often very scary for the patient, so surgical technicians should make it as comfortable for them as possible.

He/she is responsible for cleaning and sterilizing all the tools and equipment that will be needed during the surgeries. He/she must also make sure that the tools and equipment are complete before bringing the patient in. To do this, the surgical technician must have a list of all the supplies and equipment needed for the procedure so that he/she will not forget anything. These equipment include sterilizers, light and heart monitors, and suction machines, among others.

It must be noted that to avoid using wrong tools during the surgeries, surgical tools also have proper places. It is also the surgical technician’s job to ensure that the tools are in their proper places and to hand these tools over to the surgeons during the procedure.

During surgery, the surgical technician may also be asked to position the patient, hold the organs in place or to use retractors. They may also be asked to constantly assess the conditions of the operating room to ensure that it is in the best condition for the patients. They may also be needed to operate, troubleshoot, and/or adjust surgical equipment.

After the procedure, the surgical technician may be tasked to dress the wounds and transfer the patients to their respective recovery rooms. Once the operating rooms are empty, it may also be the surgical technician’s job to clean them for the next patient.

If you want to get into detail, a surgical technician can be grouped into three major roles: scrub tech, circulating surgical technologist, or second assisting surgical technologist. Each role would have its own duties and responsibilities but there are also some responsibilities that may overlap.

A scrub tech would focus more on prepping tools and equipment and ensuring cleanliness and sanitation, so their duties would include:

  • Making sure that the operating room and all the supplies in it are sterilized, clean, complete, and working
  • Setting up the surgical tables and trays, and putting the instruments in their proper places
  • Passing the surgical supplies and instruments needed by the surgeon; and
  • Preparing sterile dressings

A circulating surgical technologist, on the other hand, would have more patient interaction than scrub techs. For this reason, his/her duties would include:

  • Transferring the patient from a regular room to an operating room
  • Assisting with placing the patient on the operating room table
  • Assisting with anesthesia
  • Applying necessary surgical accessories on patients
  • Preparing the patient for any procedures needed before the surgery
  • Keeping written records of the patient
  • Assessing the patient’s condition and the team’s progress during surgery; and
  • Caring for specimens that must be tested in the laboratory

Finally, a second assisting surgical technologist’s duties would include:

  • Holding instruments in place, as directed by the surgeon
  • Suctioning or sponging the necessary areas of the surgical site
  • Dressing closed wounds; and
  • Many of the duties of the scrub tech

Though a surgical tech’s job may seem to be based on a surgeon’s commands, it is imperative that he/she knows how to anticipate a surgeon’s needs. It must be second nature to a surgical technician to hand instruments over to the surgeon as they are requested – it must consist of less thinking and more reaction time. A surgical technician must be able to stay focused and on top of things during surgeries, which therefore allows the team to work faster and in a more efficient manner.

Work Environment

Many surgical technicians can be found in hospitals, working alongside surgeons, nurses, and other medical professionals. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 70% of all surgical technicians work in this environment. However, they can also work elsewhere, as long as there are operating or delivery rooms. This means that you can also find surgical technicians in private clinics, dental offices, outpatient clinics, or in ambulatory surgical centers. They may also be part of special mobile surgical teams such as the ones that focus on organ transplants, among others.

Some surgical technicians can also be seen working at animal hospitals, as product representatives, in research and development labs, or teaching future surgical technicians.

The working hours of a surgical technician would depend on where he/she works but more often than not, they will have shifting schedules and may be required to work at any time of the day. The average work week of a surgical technician would consist of more or less 40 hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. Apart from this, they may also be called upon during emergency surgeries.

Surgical technicians must be physically fit and quick on their feet because their job would require standing for a long period of time. They are also expected to be responsible enough to keep up with the developments in their fields and to take continuing professional education if needed.

How to Become A Surgical Technician

To become a surgical technician, an individual would need to complete surgical technician program that provides both classroom work, clinical and laboratory experience, and hands-on experience in real surgery cases. The classroom setting would include learning about general education and basic medical subjects such as medical terminology, surgical procedures, anatomy, pharmacology, and physiology, among others. On the other hand, hands-on clinical experiences give students the chance to observe certified surgical technicians at work and at the same time try to do the work in a real-life setting themselves. Through the months, students will also be allowed to use the equipment in operating rooms and find out what they want to specialize in through rotations.

To complete the course, some schools would require a cumulative average of at least 2.6. Upon completion of the course, the individual would earn a certificate, diploma, or a degree, depending upon the course that he/she completed. Programs for diplomas and certificates can be completed within a year while an Associate’s degree can be completed in two years.

The costs for completing a surgical technician program would vary depending on the credential you wish to achieve. A certification course would generally cost anywhere from $5,450 to $16,500 while an Associate’s degree may cost anywhere from $16,203 to $43,640.

It is generally not a requirement for students to graduate from a state-approved program but those who do would have better opportunities than those who don’t. For this reason, it may be a good idea to consider programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Likewise, most states do not require surgical technicians to be certified but those who have certifications would generally earn more and have better job opportunities than those who don’t.

Basically, an individual who wants a career as a certified surgical technician would have to adhere to the following steps:

Step 1. Earn a High School Diploma

To gain admission to any surgical technician program, an individual would need to have a high school diploma or a GED. The subjects taken in high school, such as English, Computer, Math, and Science, would greatly help in preparing you for the surgical technician program.

Step 2. Earn a Diploma, a Certificate, or an Associate’s Degree

Look for schools that offer diploma, certificate, or Associate’s degree programs on surgical technology. Apply to a program and complete it. These programs prepare and train you to become reliable and efficient surgical technicians, and an integral part of the surgical team. Courses would include those mentioned above, and an individual aspiring to become a surgical technician should get a cumulative grading average of at least 2.6.

Once you’ve earned a certification, you are technically already considered as a surgical technician. However, it is always better to further your career by getting certifications.

Step 3. Get Certified

Again, becoming certified gets you better job opportunities than not doing so. For this reason, it is advisable to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)—something you can easily do if you’ve graduated from a program accredited by the CAAHEP.

To become a CST, you will need to pass an exam that consists of 200 questions, all of which test your knowledge on all things related to surgical technology. You can get surgical technician certifications from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, and the National Center for Competency Testing. Other certifications that you can get are the Operating Room Surgical Technician Certification (CORST) or the Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) credential, among others.

Apart from the proper education, surgical technicians would also require special skills. Because they have to hand over the proper instruments to the surgeons, they should be able to have a fast reaction time, both physically and mentally. They should also be physically and mentally fit, because they may be required to stay in the operating room for long periods of time, and in many different conditions. They must also be highly organized, conscientious, proactive, detail-oriented, focused, calm, and must have excellent dexterity in order to do their jobs well. They must also have strong technical skills because they may be asked to control, adjust, and troubleshoot different kinds of surgical equipment.

Keep in mind that a seemingly minor mistake can greatly affect a patient, so mastering all the skills and theories mentioned above is integral to those who are aspiring to become good surgical technicians.

Salary

Aspiring surgical technicians would be glad to know that a career in the field can give very exciting earning potentials. The median salary for surgical technicians in 2013 was $42,720 but has grown to $44,330 in the year 2015, with the highest earning technicians earning $63,410 per annum. This average is a lot greater than the average annual salary of all other occupations like patient care technicians or nurses, which only sits at $36,200.

Of course, these figures are just an average of surgical technician salaries all over the state. The actual salary figure would depend on your geographic location, experience, work setting, position, and, of course, certification. Surgical technicians who work in private clinics and outpatient care centers, for example, would generally earn more than those working in public hospitals. Furthermore, a surgical technician who chooses to specialize in a certain area of study would also earn more than a surgical tech with no specialty.

It is important to note that the basic salary figures mentioned above are not the only benefits when you choose to become a surgical technician. Many facilities offer additional benefits such as paid leaves (sick or vacation), health insurances and life insurances, retirement programs, and sometimes even child care assistance or reimbursements for tuition fees.

There are many other ways to increase your salary and benefits as a surgical technician. It is best to explore all of these so that you can work harder and earn the salary that you deserve.

Job Outlook

icon_blue_searchThere is no need to worry when it comes to job opportunities as a surgical technician, especially when you have the credentials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for Certified Surgical Technologists is expected to grow by 15% through the year 2024. This growth rate is much faster than the average growth rate of other careers.

The expected growth in surgical technician jobs is attributed to the fact that the baby boomers are slowly aging. They are expected to need more healthcare attention in the coming years, and therefore a demand for more healthcare professionals, including surgical technicians. Another factor that is seen to contribute to this growth is the recent and continuous advancements in surgical technology and procedures, such as the laser technology and fiber optics, among others.

As mentioned above, a surgical technician can work in a number of different environments. Surveys show that the fastest growing work environment for surgical technicians are private clinics and outpatient care centers.

Because there is a positive outlook on surgical technicians’ job growth, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a job once you finish a surgical technology program. However, it is best to keep in mind that you will have plenty of competition out there, and you will have to prove yourself worthy of the position that you want. For this reason, many surgical techs start at the lowest position and simply work their way up the corporate ladder. This ensures that they really master their knowledge and skills when it comes to becoming a surgical technician. Others cling to their networks, which is why it is so important to create strong relationships with notable healthcare professionals during your schooling or internships. It also helps to volunteer in hospitals while studying so that you can further experience what it means to be a real surgical technician before actually getting a job.

Surgical technicians also have a lot of opportunities to advance in their careers. Depending on how good you are in your job, you can start going up the corporate ladder in just two to five years’ time. With additional training and education, they can become a surgical first assistant, a circulating technologist, or a surgical technician with a specialization. Some can even choose to become a traveling surgical tech, wherein they can work in various locations for short periods of time. These would require more training and education but they would also give surgical technicians the chance to do more during their work days.

Training Programs

business-training-icon-8A surgical technician’s formal training would take place during his/her practicum or internship. It is through these internships that students can apply whatever they have learned in textbooks to real-life situations. Internships are usually done in hospitals, so students get to experience all kinds of situations, from the lightest surgeries to the wildest ones. This kind of training can be obtained from any accredited surgical technician program available. Of course, more advanced training is needed to further your career.

 

Certification Programs and Licensing

certificationAgain, many states don’t require for a surgical technician to have a certification, but having one will definitely improve your chances of getting hired faster. For this reason, the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting gives all eligible students the chance to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) as long as they pass the exam and graduate from a program approved by the CAAHEP.

As mentioned above, other certifications include the CORST and the TS-C. The NBSTSA also offers examinations for a surgical technician to become a Certified First Assistant (CFA) or a Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA). The CST is awarded by the Liaison Council for the Certification of Surgical Technologists while the TS-C is awarded by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). The CORST is awarded by the National Health career Association. Each certification will have different examinations and different costs, so you will have to choose which of them you are equipped to take.

It is important to note that getting a certified isn’t the last step. Since being a surgical technician means that you will have many lives on your hands, the government and related institutions would have to make sure that you can handle the job for the years to come. For this reason, surgical technicians would have to continually take professional education courses and retake the licensure examination every four years.

Conclusion

petition_icon_large_blueIf you’ve ever dreamed of being part of the excitement in an operating room but don’t have the qualifications to become a surgeon, the becoming a surgical technician is your next best bet. You will get to experience everything that happens in the emergency room while at the same time helping the surgeon save someone’s life.

As a surgical technician, you will not only earn a considerable amount but you are also assured of exciting and unexpected days. You will never get bored because something different will happen everyday. Apart from that, you get to leave the operating room feeling satisfied for having done meaningful work.

Becoming a surgical technician isn’t easy—you will have to learn all the technical stuff and you will have to master all the skills—but it will definitely be worth it. If you do choose this career, it is best to become certified after earning your degree. This will ensure that you get a good job after, and that you have an easier time advancing in your field.

Remember that it takes more than just one person to perform a successful surgery. Though surgeons get most of the spotlight, surgical technicians are just as responsible as them in ensuring that everything goes smoothly in the operating room. If you think you have what it takes to become a certified surgical technician, look up a program that offers it now and start your journey to the exciting world of operating rooms.

HOW TO BECOME A LICENSED PRACTICAL OR LICENSED VOCATIONAL NURSE

What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do

Within the field of nursing there are a number of titles which helps to differentiate employment levels, staff and responsibility; some of them include Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). The LVPs and LPNs do not work individually but work under doctors and RNs. RNs and doctors usually determine courses of patient care while the job of LPN/LVNs is to help patients carry out these instructions. This is different from other nursing jobs because you will not be required to have a college degree, but you should however get trained from a certified school.

LPN/LVN should always be friendly, responsible and willing to help people. The only difference between Licensed Practical Nurse and Licensed Vocational Nurse is the name because LVN is used in Texas and California and LPN is used in other parts of the United States. If you are interested in the medical field then becoming a LVN/LPN can be a good idea because it usually takes 13 months and is less expensive as compared to becoming an RN. Once you become a LVN/LPN, you can work with nurses and doctors or you can even pursue something further.

These caregivers have the chance of interacting with patient on a regular basis and provide basic nursing care. The duties and responsibilities of LPN/LVN usually vary depending on the work setting, but some common duties that licensed practical and vocational nurses do include:

  • They provide basic patient care like inserting catheters, changing bandages etc.
  • Monitoring health of patients which includes checking their blood pressure.
  • Keep health records of patients
  • Ensure patients have basic comfort such as help them to dress or bath.
  • Discuss with patients about the care they are providing and taking note of their concerns.
  • Report the patients’ concerns and status to doctor and Registered Nurses.

Keep in mind that their duties might vary depending on the state they are working for and their work setting. For instance, they might support teaching done by RN concerning the way family members are supposed to take care of their relatives like; feeding, help deliver and care for infants; carry out laboratory tests and collect samples for testing; or help in feeding patients. However, LPN/LVN might be limited to doing some tasks and this depends on the state in which they work. Some states allow LPN/LVNs to start intravenous (IV) drip or to give medications but other states don’t allow them to perform such tasks. The regulations of different states manage or control the way LPN/LVNs should be supervised e.g. LPN/LVNs might be allowed to provide some form of care only if they are instructed by a doctor or RN. Other states allow experienced LPN/LVNs to direct and supervise other LPN/LVNs or any unlicensed medical staff.

Work Environment

icon-hcp-nurse-patient-newMost LPN/LVNs work in physicians’ offices, surgical or general care hospitals, home health care facilities, nursing care facilities as well as community care facilities for the elderly. Other places they can also work include blood banks, correctional facilities, outpatient clinics, psychiatric hospitals and dialysis centers. LPN/LVNs are required to be on their feet most of their times when they are with patients because they might have to lift or move patient who find it difficult to sit, stand, walk or move in bed. Most LPN/LVNs usually work in shift during the holidays, weekends or nights because they must provide medical care to patients at all hours. This may require one to work in shifts for more than 8 hours.

According to the research done by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries that employed most LPN/LVN in the year 2014 included 7% in the government, 11% in home healthcare services, 13% in offices of physicians, 17% in local, private or state hospitals and 38% in nursing and residential care facilities. This means that after one has graduated and obtained his/her licensure then they are ready to start working as LPN/LVNs. There are many programs which provide career support to people who are looking for LPN/LVNs jobs in certain areas. For you to stand out and get employed easily then you need to create an appealing resume and upload it on LinkedIn or any other career websites that can help you get the job of your dreams. With experience, LVN/LPN can advance to other healthcare occupation or to supervisory position. For example, you can complete an RN education and become a Registered Nurse.

Popular Career Options

Depending on the type of program that a scholar chooses, successful graduates can pursue clinical responsibilities such as nurse practitioners or they can alternatively practice specialty roles such as a teacher or even an administrator. Some of the potential job titles in this particular career pool include the following:

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  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Health systems manager
  • Public health nurse 

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A while back the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,) had forecasted that advanced practice nurses such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and even nurse midwives would observe a job growth of about thirty percent from the years 2014 up to 2024. Last year as of May 2015, this government body published reports that stated that the median yearly wages for these nurses were as follows:

  • Nurse midwife: > $92,000
  • Nurse practitioner: > $98,000
  • Nurse anesthetist: > $157,000

How to Become a Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

In contrast to other nursing jobs, licensed vocational and licensed practical nurses do not have an obligation to hold a college or university degree. Nonetheless, training is essential from a certified institution, resulting in a postsecondary, non-degree credit.

Whenever a person decides to become a RN (registered nurse) sometime in the future, they’ll need to acquire either an associate’s i.e. LPN-to-RN, or a normal bachelor’s degree i.e. LP-to-BSN; however, the LPN training will add up as credit with regard to your bachelor’s degree. The educational program of becoming LPNs/LVPs is commonly found in community colleges and technical schools, some of them are also available in hospitals and high school. The classroom learning subjects to be taught in the practical nursing programs include pharmacology, nursing and biology. You can find a brief description of each option below.

Associate’s Degree Programs

Supposing you are fascinated about advancing your profession and becoming a registered nurse, you should reflect on the probability of enrolling in an LPN-to-RN curriculum. An associate’s degree in nursing takes account of the following courses, nursing, anatomy, chemistry, nutrition, microbiology, just to mention a few. Acquiring an associate’s degree from scratch generally takes about 2 to 3 three years, but if one has LPN or LVN course credits, he or she can, as a rule, acquire the degree in a shorter period of time. 

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Supposing you are an LVN or LPN who is determined to become a registered nurse, you have a choice to sign up for an LPN-to-BSN course which is devised purposely for LPNs and usually take about 3 academic years. Institute offering these programs have a propensity to concentrate on nursing classes where learners are educated on better leadership and management skills.

Once a scholar has enrolled for the master’s degree, core subjects in an MSN program lay emphasis on nursing ethics as well as research. Students then study courses to advance their patient care skillfulness. Courses may include:

  • Patient diagnosis
  • Advanced nursing theory
  • Illness prevention
  • Prenatal care or primary family care
  • Pharmacology
  • Path physiology 

What certification will I need?

Subsequent to completion of the degree program, one will have to take the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). With the aim of sitting for the exam, one will have to submit an application for a nursing license from the state board of nursing (this depends on which state you come from). In view of the fact, that each state has diverse eligibility criteria, you will be required to verify with your state board to make sure that you have met the mandatory requirements in order to sit for the examination.

The National Council Licensure Examination covers 4 categories of needs; this is in accordance with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing:

  • Secure, effective care atmosphere: Management care, infection control and safety measures
  • Psychosocial reliability: Dealing and adapting to psychologically related medical issues
  • Matters concerning health endorsements and preservation: Growth and development during the life span, early detection and prevention of diseases
  • Reliability in matters of physiology; offering basic car, pharmacological, comfort, and parental therapies, physiological adaptation, and diminution of risk potential.

Prospects to Be Learnt In These Courses

LVN/LPN training courses normally cover general medical issues. In addition to that, you have the opportunity to have hands on lessons in a clinical work setting.

Typical courses include:

  • Basic nursing
  • Physiology and Anatomy
  • Nutrition
  • Emergency care
  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Obstetric nursing
  • Pediatric nursing

Program Durations

By and large, the majority of LVN/LPN programs take about one full academic year, nevertheless, others can be done in a shorter time span like as seven months; on the other hand, some program may take more than two years, therefore when selecting any program, it would be useful to take your time to be able to properly select the type of program that will always support your schedule.

Programs Being offered Online

Several vocational institutions as well as different community colleges offer both LPN and LVN programs; o many of them have extended these educational services on the internet. Prior to enrollment is vital to consider the possibility that you will almost certainly do your clinical work at a local hospital. For this to happen, the medical school or institution should be in coordination with the hospital. 

Cost of LPN/LVN Programs

Tuition fees charged on average for studying LPN/LVN programs normally lies around $2,000. There is also the existence of financial grants and financial aid for justified students offered by various schools. This makes it easier for prospect student to pay for their education.

Supposing one decides to become a registered nurse future or even go back to earn that bachelor’s degree, many institutions will offer to give you your credit for use in your LPN coursework; thus ultimately cutting you some slack as well as time. Furthermore, if you have accumulated some LVN/LPN vocation experience, some institutions will permit you to experiment out of certain classes, thus saving you some money.

Program Prerequisites

LVN/LPN programs being offered at vocational schools and community colleges oblige applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent qualification. A number of institution and programs will also require applicants to pass an entrance assessment examination; consequently it’s an excellent initiative to validate this when tendering your applications for any of these programs.

Program Accreditation

Accreditation is a textbook technique used parents and students alike to discern if a program meets the nationally-acknowledged nursing education criteria. Autonomous accrediting institutions normally register learning institutions once they have undergone a thorough application procedure. For the reason that these institutions are always updated on matters concerning the health departments and state governments; they recognize whether an institution or program presents the crucial training to an LVN/LPN learner in their respective state.

Important for students, accreditation can assist with both grant as well as financial aid eligibility. Acquiring a degree at one endorsed school also permits a scholar to pursue further education at supplementary accredited institutions. In addition, whenever you relocate to a different state, having done your training at an accredited school, you will be at ease whenever you want to get a new license.

Note: Accreditation is neither acquired nor maintained in perpetuity; they are customarily bestowed for a definite amount of time, typically between five and ten years, and are specific for each institution. It’s a competent initiative to verify with your prospective program provider concerning the length of their accreditation.

Major Accrediting Bodies

  • In the U.S for example, the ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing), formerly known as NLNAC, accredits the entire continuum of nursing programs, be it associate’s degree, bachelor’s , diploma, and also the master’s)
  • The CCNE (Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education), accredits both the bachelor’s as well as master’s nursing programs

It is imperative to draw attention to the fact that the CCNE does not accredit or certify both LVN and LPN programs. For this reason, you will be compelled to search for programs that come with a seal of endorsement from the NLNAC.

To summarize this context, you should understand that the State boards of nursing endorse institutions in order to prepare the students for the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). Be that as it may, the state board consent does not automatically equal institution accreditation from any of other national associations. At the same time, most accredited institutions are state board-approved, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always a time-wasting initiative to check.

Non-accredited schools

Supposing you are considering the perspective of attending a non-accredited institution, even though it may be state board-approved, there are possibilities of a number of drawbacks to occur. This is because, even though you can still do the NCLEX, your nursing career may stall, especially if you are in the quest of furthering your education. In general, edification from a non-accredited institution does not accredit students to attend other accredited institutions.

Training Programs

Why You Should Consider Additional Training

training-iconCompletion of LVN and LPN training, receiving your license and entering the workforce is among the techniques used to explore the career pool of nursing. When one is starting their career in nursing, a shorter investment in both time and money will be required for an entry-level vocational or practical nurse training as a RN. After a while, once you have gotten used to some of their nursing roles, LVN/LPNs may perhaps choose to seek after advanced education and training, for instance, a nursing degree at the bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree level. Both these study options commonly offer wider employment prospects and improved earning potential. 

Summary

Depending on the type of institution a student will decide to pursue, LVN/LPN programs culminate in the following disciplines; certificate, a diploma, or associate’s/bachelor’ degree. Each of these disciplines offers a specific focus, and students should reflect on their career aspiration prior to selecting a program.

Diploma or Certificate Associate Degree
Curriculum focal point

 

 

Duration of Program

 

 

Benefits

 

 

Disadvantages

Career-focused tuition limited to LVN/LPN proficiency and familiarity

 

9-18 months

 

 

Swift access to the national workforce; training usually provided by professionals in the discipline

A number of employers may have a preference of hiring aspirants with a degree and these certificates usually won’t transfer over to other institutes should the student decide to pursue further studies

 

Supplements LVN/LPN coursework with broad-spectrum education programs

 

18-24 months

 

 

More resourceful scholarly credential; credits may reassign toward a bachelor’s degree

 

Longer time liability; admissions procedure may be slightly more thorough

 

Tools and Technology in the Field

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses utilize an assortment of different supplies and technologies in their typical workday. Examples could comprise specialty items utilized to monitor patients or administer medication as well as specific computer programs for recording information and remarks.

The medical kits and technology used by LVN/LPNs can be classified into the following categories:

Medical Tools for Treatment

 

Intravenous Therapy Supplies , Needles  & Nebulizers
Diagnostic Tools Thermometer, Pulse Oximeter & Spirometer,

 

Computer Hardware           Handheld Desktop Computers, Notebook  or Tablets

 

Computer Software Medic Ware, Microsoft Office Suite, triage software, scheduling software,

 

Qualities of LVN/LPN

Some of the important qualities Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse should possess include:

  • Detail oriented and responsible: LPN/LVNs are required to be detail oriented and responsible as it will help them to give their patients proper care at the right time.
  • Compassion: LPN/LVNs need to be caring and empathetic towards patients and the people they serve.
  • Patients: It might be stressful to deal with injured or sick people but as a LVNs/LPNs, you should be patient and know how to deal with these kinds of stresses.
  • Speaking skills: LPN/LVNs should be able to communicate freely and effectively e.g. pass on concerns of the patient to a Registered Nurse.
  • Interpersonal Skills: LPN/LVNs need good interpersonal skills because they always interact with patients, RN and other healthcare providers.
  • Physical stamina: LPN/LVNs need to be relaxed and comfortable when performing physical activities. For example, they might be required to bend over their patients for a given time period.

Salary for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses 

salary-icon-3The median annual salary for LPN/LVNs was $43,170 in May 2015. The median salary can be defined as the wage where half workers in a given occupation les that that amount and half earned more. The highest ten percent got paid more than $59,510 and lowest ten percent got paid less than $32,040. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of LPN/LVNs in May 2015, in the top industries they worked for was as follows: $39,010-offices of physicians, $42,010-local, private and state hospitals, $44,060-home healthcare services, $44,330-nursing and residential care facilities and $44,550-government.

Most LPN/LVNs work full time but according to research in 2014 by the US Bureau of Labor statistics, 1 in 5 worked part-time.

Job Outlook

Employment of LPN/LVNs is projected to grow 16% from 2014 to 2024; this is more rapid than the average for all careers. As this “infant-escalation” population matures, there’s universal necessity for healthcare services; and such services are expected to increase. LVNs and LPNs will be required in residential care amenities and in home health situations to tend to older patients.

A scarcity of registered nurses in some regions has brought about a state of affairs where LVNs as and LPNs are required to fill in on other nursing duties that are normally outside their usual scope. Certain business reports hint that many practical nurses are projected to retire soon thus giving opportunity for young LVNs and LPNs. A budding populace of elderly citizens requires extra number of professionals operating in long-term health care amenities.

Medical Careers Related to LPN/LVNs

Although working as an LVN/LPN can be a fulfilling career, a number of nurses might still be interested in searching for other healthcare-related careers. Below are some of the common occupations LVN/LPN might be interested in including their educational requirements, expected job growth and average salaries:

  • Certified Nurse Assistant: It is a medical career where the educational and training requirement is a postsecondary training and the expected job growth is 21% and the average salary is approximately $26,250
  • Medical Assistant: It is a medical career where the education and training requirement is a postsecondary training and the expected job growth is 29% and the average salary is approximately $31,220
  • Surgical Technologist: It is a medical career where the educational and training required is an associate degree in surgical technology or a postsecondary certificate. The expected job growth and the average salary is approximately $45,010.
  • Neonatal Nurse: This is another medical career where the educational and training required is a bachelor’s degree, associate degree or diploma; certification in neonatal car is optional. The expected job growth is 19% and average salary is approximately $60,000.
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographer: It is a medical career where the education and training required is a bachelor’s or an associate degree in sonography. The expected job growth is 39% and the average salary is approximately $68,390.
  • Registered Nurse: It is a medical career where the education and training required is an associate degree or diploma in nursing; most employers may prefer those who have pursued bachelor’s degree in nursing. The expected job growth is 19% and average salary is approximately $69,790.
  • Nurse Practitioner: This is a medical career where the educational and training requirement is a master’s degree. The expected job growth is 31% and average salary is approximately $97,900.
  • Physical Therapy Assistant: This is a medical career where the education and training required is an associate degree from a certified institution. The expected job growth is 41% and the average salary is approximately $45,330.

How to Become a Veterinary Technician

Animals are very special yet underrated creatures. Like humans, they need proper love and care, especially when they get sick or hurt. The sad thing is that animals are not a priority for most people. Someone can stumble upon a dying animal on the street and just pass by without giving it a second glance. Fortunately, you can do something about this. If you really care about the welfare of all animals everywhere, you can always choose to become a veterinary technologist or technician and give these animals the proper care and attention that they need.

It should be noted that there is a difference between veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians. The former is a more advanced degree, and takes at least four to five years to complete while the latter can be completed within two to three years. Furthermore, there are only a few schools offering degrees for veterinary technologists but a lot that offer degrees for veterinary technicians. For these reasons, many animal lovers turn to becoming veterinary technicians instead. Choosing to become a veterinary technician is also a good choice because it can always be a stepping stone to becoming a veterinary technician specialist, a veterinary technologist, or even a licensed veterinarian.

What Do Veterinary Technicians Do?

clinicaveterinariaIn general, veterinary technicians are known to work with small animals such as dogs, cats, birds, and mice, among others. However, there are also times when they tend to larger animals like sheep, pigs, and even cattle. It all depends on where they work. Those who work in animal clinics, for example, would most likely work with the smaller animals while those who work in zoos would most likely work with bigger ones.

The daily routines of veterinary technicians would also depend on the level of their work and their work environment. However, the most common duties of those just starting out include the following:

[color-box customcolorpicker=”#e9ebf7″]

  • Bathing animals
  • Observing animals’ conditions and providing emergency care to injured and sick ones
  • Documenting medical charts
  • Collecting lab samples and performing lab exams
  • Administering medications and vaccines
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Providing first aid
  • Assisting veterinarians during procedures and examinations
  • Performing diagnostic tests
  • Preparing animals for surgery, assisting in surgeries, and monitoring post-anesthetic recovery
  • Phlebotomy and intravenous catheter placement
  • Dispensing prescription medications as prescribed by a licensed veterinarian
  • Ensuring that all animals are treated with humane treatment
  • Educating owners about how to properly care for their pets [/color-box]

Veterinarian technicians who have enough experience can start performing more extensive treatments, such as specialized nursing care or dental care, under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian or a more experienced supervisor.

Like in other healthcare centers, veterinary laboratories and clinics also need to have staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For this reason, veterinary technicians who are in supervisory roles are needed. These supervisors will not only be tasked to monitor their staff but may also be tasked to maintain staff schedules as well. Some veterinary technicians may also do research work if needed.

Basically, the job of a veterinary technician is a combination of nursing, lab work, imaging, and customer service, among others. They are the front liners in providing various animals with the attention and care that they deserve and the back office for veterinarians. In essence, they help improve the quality of life of different kinds of animals.

Work Environment

536fa16a27394ca47e9db4b1_icon work experienceAs mentioned above, a veterinary technician may work in different environments. The most common environments include private clinics, boarding facilities, animal hospitals, animal shelters, rescue leagues, and even zoos. However, they can also work in non-traditional settings such as wildlife control services, livestock facilities, research laboratories, veterinary and pharmaceutical sales, government agencies, and even the military.

Again, the work schedule of a veterinary technician would depend on where he or she works. A vet tech who works in private clinics and research laboratories would generally work the regular eight hours, from 8am to 5pm, while those who work in hospitals and other 24-hour facilities may need to constantly work during the evening and/or holidays. Those who work in emergency facilities may also sometimes need to work extra hours especially if there is a lack of employees during a certain shift. Of course, even those who work during regular business hours would sometimes need to work extra hours if needed.

Veterinary technicians are much like nurses except that they care for animals instead of people. They would therefore need to be physically fit and healthy because most of their time would be spent walking around, checking on animals, and even restraining or lifting large animals. It can be a very physically and mentally exhausting job because not only will you have to learn how to properly read different animals’ body languages and the proper techniques in restraining them but you will also have to do this yourself if needed.

Veterinary technicians would also have constant contact with a lot of potentially hazardous substances such as radiation, needles, and bodily fluids, among others. Apart from this, there may be some irritant animals that can cause potential harms. For these reasons, they would need to know and follow all the safety procedures at work.

Again, the work environment would depend upon where you work, so a veterinary technician who works in a wildlife preserve should probably be more careful than one who works in a research lab. Basically though, veterinary technicians should be genuine animal lovers who aren’t afraid to get a little down and dirty with any animal. He/she should be personable, patient, and emotionally stable in order to effectively work with both animals and their owners in any situation. Keep in mind that it is not all sunshine and butterflies in a vet office. Just like in hospitals, there will be times wherein the animals will not survive. During these times, the vet tech should be able to handle the emotions and communicate well with the pet owners.

Though it is easier to become a veterinary technician than a veterinary technologist, it still takes a lot of patience and perseverance to get there. The first requirement for becoming a veterinary technician is to love both animals and science. If you are only interested in one but not the other, then this career may not be for you.

The first step to become a veterinary technician is to complete an Associate’s Degree program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This program usually takes around two years to complete, and can be taken in any of the 160 different schools in the United States. This degree can be taken right after high school, even without any prior experience.

The core curriculum for veterinary technician courses is solely based on science. Basic subjects would include anatomy, physiology, parasitology, radiology, terminology, hematology, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, laboratory procedures, animal medicine, animal restraint, and practice management, among others. As you advance in your career, you will get the chance to choose which to specialize in: large animals, small animals, or exotic/zoo animals, among others. Of course, general subjects such as Math and English will also be included in the curriculum.

An important fact that schools have realized is that students cannot learn from theories alone. Many of the programs therefore include lab classes, which gives the students a little hands-on learning and allows them to experience what it means to become a real veterinarian technician. The last semester/s of these programs are usually concluded with an internship or practicum, which furthers the students’ experiences and skills as well. This internship or practicum can be performed in any of the veterinary work environments mentioned above.

It is understandable that not everyone has the time to actually physically go all the way to school just to earn their degree, especially those who choose to work alongside their studies. For this reason, the AVMA has accredited nine different distance learning programs wherein students can earn their degrees online.

For those who want to advance their careers further, a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology is also available in twenty three universities in the United States. This degree is best for those who want to work as researchers or who want to continue on to become licensed veterinarians.

One factor to take into consideration when choosing between becoming a veterinarian technician or a veterinarian technologist is the amount of debt you will be in if you choose to apply for a student loan. Many student loans for vet tech programs are just under $20,000, which is not hard to pay back considering the good salary you will be receiving once you get a job as a veterinary technician.

The procedures for admission and application for veterinary technician and technologist programs would vary depending on the school that you apply in. All of them, however, would require at least an equivalent of a high school diploma. Some schools would also have additional requirements such as placement tests, drug tests, prior experience, vaccinations, essays, interviews, and sometimes even drug tests. Further information about admission and applications can be found on each school’s website.

If you are not interested in classroom settings or theoretical learning, you would be glad to know that you can also become a veterinary technician solely through on-the-job trainings. However, this is only allowed in three states—Wisconsin, Alaska, and California.

Salary

salary-icon-3According to 2013 data, the national average salary of veterinary technicians per year is around $32,350, with the middle 80% earning an amount between $21,390 to $45,710. In a 2015 survey, however, it was noted that the average wage per hour of a veterinary technician with credentials is around $17.40. A regular 8-hour work day for 26 days a month, 12 months a year, therefore, would give a veterinary technician a total average annual amount of $43,430.40. The $17.40 hourly wage for credentialed veterinary technicians in comparation to emergency medical technician‘s for example, is much bigger. These are already very good numbers but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is still room for growth.

veterinary technician salary

Again, the salaries would depend on the work environment of the veterinary technicians. Generally, those who work in research laboratories, colleges, and government agencies would earn more than those who work in animal clinics but of course this will still depend on their job positions. Veterinary technicians who have specialties such as surgery, anesthesiology, dentistry, and animal behavior would also likely earn more than those who don’t specialize in anything.

These are all very general guidelines regarding salaries. Of course, it would all depend on where you work, what your educational attainment is, how much experience you have, and how well you do your job. Keep in mind that your basic salary is not the only benefit you will be getting when you work as a veterinary technician.  There are many other factors that can help increase your earnings and benefits. Learning about these factors and working on them will definitely help increase how much you earn.

Job Opportunities

veterinary-technician-jobsThere are many careers related to animal care but only a few of them have the same positive job outlook as veterinary technicians. One thing to note about the industry is that veterinary technologists and technicians are now preferred over veterinary assistants because they are more equipped and knowledgable than the latter. As per surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there is an expected growth of 19% for veterinary technicians from the year 2014 to 2024—a growth that is a lot bigger than the average growth of other occupations. This growth is expected to be stronger in rural areas rather than urban ones.

The growth of the industry may be attributed to many different factors such as medical advances in animal care, the sudden awareness for the welfare of animals, the rise of pets’ status as family members instead of mere pets, and the availability of specialized veterinary care (i.e. surgery, dentistry, cardiology, etc.). The common denominator among all these factors is that they are all geared towards specializations. Owners demand for their pets to receive special and personalized care and attention, so there is also a demand for specialized veterinary technicians with credentials. Given all of these, it is safe to say that now is the perfect time to start your career as a  certified veterinary technician.

All these statistics are good news for those just starting out their veterinary technician careers but what about those that are already in the industry? First of all, because there is an increase in demand for vet techs, there is no need to worry about fresh minds coming to take over. There will be enough jobs available for everyone so fresh graduates don’t have to be treated as competitors but welcomed as colleagues. Furthermore, experienced veterinary technicians also have the opportunity to obtain supervisory roles  if they do their jobs well. Supervisory roles would require training new technicians and/or assistants, and monitoring them well.

Veterinary technicians are also given many opportunities for a continuous education. There are many events, conventions, and training available where experienced technicians or technologists can share their experiences with others, and give tips on how to advance in the said career/s. There are also many online classes available for continuing education. All these empower the technician to work harder, take on new skills, and even consider choosing a specialty in their line of work.

Another opportunity for veterinary technicians that many don’t realize is that they can go on to become veterinarians. The competition to get into a good vet school is very tight, and your experience and certification as a veterinary technician will definitely be a big advantage.

Training Programs

badge3 2As mentioned above, basic training courses are already embedded during the last semester/s of veterinary technology/technician programs as internships or practicums. These programs are carried out in different work environments such as hospitals, clinics, research facilities, and other approved animal medical sites. During training, aspiring veterinary technicians will be able to work directly with animals and perform clinical and laboratory procedures, all under the supervision of licensed veterinarians or experienced vet techs.

Again, there are now many opportunities for advancement for veterinary technicians. Once you’re already a vet tech, you don’t have to stay stuck with the same job forever because you can always pursue specialized courses or certifications even while you’re working. These specialties can be taken in various places such as the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, and the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians. Currently, these institutions offer eighteen specialties that require advanced skills and knowledge.

Certification Programs and Licensing

Certificate_seal-512As mentioned above, a certified veterinary technician has more benefits than someone who has no credentials, especially in terms of salary. Apart from that, many of the states in the U.S. are slowly making it mandatory for vet techs to become certified, licensed, or registered.

Each state would vary with regards to how they regulate veterinary technicians. Many states require aspiring technicians to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), which is prepared and administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). This exam is very important because it measures how knowledgeable aspiring veterinary technicians really are with regards to the procedures and theories behind becoming a vet tech. It is composed of 200 multiple choice questions and lasts up to four hours.

Some states may not require an aspiring vet tech to take the VTNE but instead to complete an exam and pass a training program approved by the state. It must be noted that all programs accredited by the AVMA are approved by the state, so any exams and programs completed under them are considered valid. However, if you have already passed the VTNE or if you currently undergoing on-the-job training in Wisconsin, California, or Alaska, these states may not require you to take the aforementioned exam and training anymore.

Once you’ve passed these tests, you are then eligible to be certified, licensed, or registered. Certifications are given by professional or private program while licenses are given by authorized parties such as the state’s veterinary medical board. To become a registered veterinary technician (RVT), you will have to be acknowledged by a governmental agency. Keep in mind that licensures and certifications vary by state, so it is important to check on the specific requirements needed from the board of health in your state.

A credentialed veterinary technician can also pursue specialty certifications from different societies or academies.

Conclusion

Icon_Hive_Learning_Networks_at_a_GlanceBecoming a veterinary technician will definitely be a very rewarding career for all animal and science lovers out there. You will not only get the chance to interact with different kinds of animals but you also get to improve their quality of life. Technicians often have long-term patients, so you will also be able to develop close relationships with them. By doing this, you are not only helping the animals but also improving your personal life.

There are different ways to become a veterinary technician, each one as challenging as the other. There will be a lot of studying, training, and exams, but once you get your credentials, it will all be worth it. From the salary to the good job outlook and all the fluffy animals by your side, it can only be smooth sailing from there.

For those who want more challenge, you can always also choose to pursue specializations or to go on to become a veterinarian. By choosing to become a specialist, you are equipped to do more advanced jobs, thereby relieving veterinarians of the jobs they are overqualified to do and allowing them to focus on the jobs that only they are licensed to perform.

If all these seem appealing to you, then it’s best to look for schools offering veterinary technician programs today and start applying for a future that’s right for you. It doesn’t matter whether or not you live near one because you can always choose the distance learning programs wherein you can earn the degrees right from your own home.