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Laser therapy is a choice for many people who want to remove tattoos, unwanted hair or skin lesions, or to rejuvenate the skin. It is also used to treat medical conditions such as psoriasis, acne, scars and stretch marks, and in the operating room to make incisions and stop bleeding. Nurses who have been specially trained can perform laser therapy in some states. A laser nurse could be a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, depending on the state.
Important Skills and Characteristics
Like all RNs and LPNs, laser nurses need compassion and empathy for their patients and must be skilled at developing rapport. Physical stamina is important, and the nurse may spend much of the day standing or walking. The nurse needs detail orientation to follow instructions carefully and ensure the patient’s safety. In addition, a laser nurse should have good vision and eye-hand coordination to see small details on the patient’s skin and use the equipment safely and correctly. Because nurses must document all aspects of their care, the laser nurse should have good writing skills.
The primary function of a laser nurse is to improve the patient’s skin condition, whether in treating a medical problem or for cosmetic purposes. A laser nurse uses the laser to remove discoloration, surface skin, tissues or growths. She also provides other skin care. The nurse might use a prescription ointment or cream, manually debride the skin, provide wound care or apply dressings. Laser nurses also teach patients how to care for their skin after or between treatments. Lasers can be harmful to tissue, so the laser nurse must follow proper safety precautions at all times.
The exact procedures a laser nurse may perform will vary from one state to another, as each state regulates the practice of nursing within its borders. In addition to direct laser treatment, a laser nurse might perform other dermatological or esthetic procedures. A laser nurse might inject Botox, for example, or use a chemical skin peel or massage therapy. In some organizations, the laser nurse might be the laser safety officer, charged with ensuring that all laser-related activities are performed correctly. Laser nurses collaborate with other members of the health care team, such as physicians. They document all treatments and responses in the patient's medical record.
Education and Qualifications
RNs and LPNs follow different educational routes. The RN might have a nursing diploma, associate's degree or bachelor’s degree, while the LPN typically has a post-secondary certificate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. LPNs must be supervised by a physician or RN. Both RNs and LPNs must be licensed in all states, and special training is required to perform laser therapy. In some states, only RNs can perform laser treatments. RNs also have the option to become certified, although certification is not required for practice.
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.