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Nurse Duties & Responsibilities

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Nurses play a very important role in the field of health care. From helping patients with basic hygienic tasks to assisting in surgery, nurses are trained and educated to help patients to the best of their ability. There are four different types of nurses you may see when visiting your family doctor or local hospital: nurse aides, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners. Each type of nurse is responsible for different levels of nursing care.

Nurse Aides

Nurse aides, or nursing assistants, are nurses that perform basic patient care tasks under the supervision of physicians and supervising nurses. Nurse aides are responsible for mostly hands-on care, such as helping patients eat, transporting patients, taking vital signs, helping patients bathe and dress and just keeping them company. Nurse aides often perform tasks that many would consider to be unsanitary, such as cleaning up patients' rooms, changing soiled bed sheets and changing bed pans. The job outlook of nurse aides is expected to increase 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports that nurse aides earn an average hourly wage of $11.46, as of May 2008.

Licensed Practical Nurses

Licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, are nurses who receive about a year's worth of training to perform bedside care for patients. Generally, licensed practical nurses are responsible for tasks like taking vital signs, prepping and giving injections, performing lab tests, cleaning equipment and supervising nurse aides. Some LPNs perform clerical duties, such as scheduling patient appointments and keeping patient records. The demand for licensed practical nurses is expected to grow 21 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. LPNs earn about $39,030 per year, as stated by the BLS, as of May 2008.

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Registered Nurses

Registered nurses, or RNs, are nurses that generally have an educational background of two to four years. RNs perform a wide variety of duties, from hands-on care to educating patients and their families. Registered nurses typically take patients' histories, administer medications, operate medical machinery and follow up on patients' progress. There are many different types of RNs, specializing in different areas of care. For example, nurses can train to be pediatric nurses, where they work with children, or emergency nurses, where they provide initial care to patients experiencing trauma. The field of registered nursing is projected to increase 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 2008, the yearly median salary for registered nurses was $62,450, as recorded on the BLS website.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners, or NPs, primarily work in a specific specialty of care. Their training involves about six years of schooling, or a master's degree in nursing. Though not as highly trained as doctors, NPs have more responsibilities than registered nurses. Nurse practitioners assess, diagnose and treat patients. They also educate patients on staying healthy and maintaining a plan to recover from injuries, as well as advising them on things like child birth or nutrition, depending on their specialty. The job outlook for nurse practitioners is very good, and, on average, NPs earn about $82,590 a year, according to StateUniversity.com.

About the Author

Amanda Williams has been writing since 2009 on various writing websites and blogging since 2003. She enjoys writing about health, medicine, education and home and garden topics. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at East Stroudsburg University in May 2013. Williams is also a certified emergency medical technician.

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