June 19, 2010

The Big Wide World of Nursing

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 3:09 am by Nursing Tales Team

Nursing is a field that has evolved over the years.  Instead of morphing from one single entity into another completely different type; nursing has actually expanded and reached out into parts of the field that some are still completely unaware of.  Some nurses kinow before they even enter nursing school which direction they want to go in.  Some change their minds within a few days of being in that role they coveted so much.  Some nurses go with the flow and change their roles several times throughout their career.  This is one of the joys of this occupation – the ability to stretch yourself and gain knowledge and experience along the way.  Here, we will delve into some of the nurse specialties that are out there.

The Nurse-midwife

The nurse-midwife is an advanced practice nurse who has received  additional training around delivering babies and providing prenatal and postpartum care.  During labor and delivery (which can be at the patient’s home or in a hospital or birthing center), the nurse-midwife sometimes never leaves the mother’s side.

This type of a nurse knows how to read the signs and symptoms that lean away from what is normal for childbirth and will consult with a physician during the delivery process.

In addition to labor and delivery, a nurse-midwife also provides family planning counseling to include birth control options and normal gynecological services.  She will perform breast exams, pap smears and other preventative health screenings and sometimes prescribe medications (depending on the state).

The nurse midwife earns a salary range of approximately $80,000 and $100,000 annually.
Forensic Nursing

According to TheForensicNurse.com, the “Forensic nurse is a nurse with specialized training in forensic evidence collection, criminal procedures, legal testimony expertise, and more. The Forensic nurse becomes that liason between the medical profession and that of the criminal justice system. When you combine the medical training of a nurse, with the investigative prowess of police detectives and the legal training of a lawyer, you have created a formidable enemy for criminals.”

This term was actually coined back in 1992 and recognized by the American Association of Nurses in 1996; but it is a field many have not considered or even heard of.  In this field of nursing, there are branches such as Sexual Assault Nursing, expert medical witness, Nurse death investigator or Medicolegal death investigation (which was used after Katrina when identification was possible only through forensics).  This is just the beginning of what is possible in this budding nursing field.

The salary for a forensic nurse varies widely (reportedly from $26 to $100 per hour) based on experience and location.  Depending on the part of the country where you practice and on your level of experience, you can negotiate better terms.

The Legal Nurse Consultant

For the nurse who wants a change of pace away from actual patient care, this field is wide open with possibility.  Legal nurse consultants fill the gap between medicine and the judicial system.  This nurse analyzes medically-related issues relevant to a legal case and provides informed opinions on the delivery of health care and its results.  For the judicial system, legal nurse consultants provide a valuable service that saves the system thousands of dollars.  It is through the nurse’s expertise and understanding of the nuances of the health care system that medical issues in a legal case can be effectively interpreted.

The Legal Nurse consultant may work for independent consulting practices, or law firms; in government offices, insurance companies, hospital risk management departments or in forensic environments.  This nursing field earns the specialized RN a salary of approximately $125 per hour.

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