October 7, 2019 · 3 min read

Differences Between a Doula and a Midwife

Learn the differences between nurse-midwives and doulas.

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When it comes to having a baby, a mother-to-be will have her own vision of the kind of birthing experience she wants. And many women are choosing to include a doula, a midwife—or both—as part of their plan for pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the crucial early months of learning to care for newborn.

But exactly what role does a doula or a midwife play in a birthing plan? Read on to learn more about how midwives and doulas contribute through the course of pregnancy and childbirth, and discover the differences between these two professions.

The Role of a Midwife From Pregnancy to Delivery

Responsibilities of a nurse-midwife

According to The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), here are the many duties that a nurse-midwife carries out during a woman’s pregnancy:

  • Perform regular exams through the course of the intrapartum period
  • Help women make decisions about their birthing plan, including whether or not to use anesthesia and what measures to take if complications arise.

After childbirth, a nurse-midwife helps a woman with the following newborn care needs:

  • Teaching her to breastfeed
  • Helping her find ways to soothe an infant through colic
  • Providing postpartum medical care to women and their newborns, if necessary
  • Recommending coping strategies to women and their partners for all the changes that come with having a newborn

The Role of a Doula From Pregnancy to Delivery

Doulas in the delivery room

Like nurse-midwives, doulas have significant experience in the delivery room. Doulas specialize in providing mothers with the emotional support and physical comforts they need through the course of pregnancy, labor and delivery.

DONA International explains the important role doulas play in helping women carry out their birthing plans and in facilitating the most positive experience of childbirth possible. Among other things, this may include:

  • Helping a woman and her partner understand what to expect during labor
  • Holding the mother’s hand and helping her breathe through contractions
  • Getting the mother more pillows when she asks

After the delivery, a postpartum doula can provide a number of services to a mother:

  • Offer companionship and nonjudgmental support as the mother goes through the postpartum period.
  • Educate mothers on breastfeeding, infant soothing, sleep schedules and other facets of newborn care.
  • Assist mothers with newborn care tasks, from diaper changes to rocking the little one to sleep.
  • Help the family adjust to the new baby, perform light housework and prepare some family meals.
  • Suggest coping skills for new parents and refer families to resources and other professionals who can provide additional support during this time.

Education and Training Standards for Nurse-Midwives and Doulas

Nurse-midwife qualifications

Nurse-midwives have advanced clinical nursing training. They typically hold a Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN) and have passed a national certification exam. Their training and medical expertise qualify nurse-midwives to deliver babies independently in hospitals, clinics, birthing centers, and private practice. Further, a nurse-midwife can recognize when the circumstances of a woman’s pregnancy or delivery require the attention of a medical doctor.

Doula Qualifications

Doulas have received training on the birthing process and/or postpartum period and have met the requirements of a rigorous certification program. However, doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks. Instead, doulas hone in on a mother’s emotional and physical needs, working to create a calm environment during the most trying moments of labor, helping to ensure that a woman’s birthing plan is carried out, and providing a communication link between a mother, her partner and medical staff.

Learn more about certified nurse-midwife programs and degrees, and request more information from the midwifery schools that interest you most.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; DONA.org; Midwife.org.

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November 4, 2016 · 4 min read

Registered Nurse vs. Licensed Practical Nurse

Before you decide on an entry-level nursing program, compare RN vs. LPN education requirements.

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Even though they sound similar, if you compare registered nurse vs. licensed practical nurse careers and education you’ll see they have fairly little in common in terms of job tasks, educational paths, and salary ranges.

LPNs usually provide more basic nursing care and are responsible for the comfort of the patient.  RNs on the other hand, primarily administer medication, treatments, and offer educational advice to patients and the public.


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LPNs earn your ADN or BSN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs. All applicants must be either an LPN or LVN to apply.

Are You an LPN/LVN?:

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Here’s a breakdown of the key distinctions between these two in-demand positions:

Licensed Practical Nurse

Registered Nurse

Job duties
Provide basic medical and nursing care such as checking blood pressure and inserting catheters, ensure the comfort of patients by helping them bathe or dress, discuss health care with patients, and report status of patients to registered nurses and doctors.Administer medication and treatment to patients, coordinate plans for patient care, perform diagnostic test and analyze results, instruct patients on how to manage illnesses after treatment, and oversee other workers such as LPNs, nursing aides, and home care aides.
Education
You must complete an accredited practical nursing program which usually takes about one year to complete. These programs are most often taken at technical or community colleges. Courses usually combine academia in nursing, biology, and pharmacology, in addition to supervised clinical experiences.Three educational options are available: a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. BSNs usually take four years to complete, whereas ADN and diploma programs usually require two to three years to complete. All programs include courses in social, behavior and physical science in addition to clinical experiences in various workplaces.
Licensing / certification
After completing your practical nursing course from a state-approved program, you’ll receive a certification in practical nursing. Once that is completed, you must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) in order to obtain a license and be able to work as an LPN.All registered nurses require a nursing license acquired by completing an accredited nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Some RNs may choose to become certified through professional associations in certain specialties. Certification is usually voluntary, but some advanced positions require it.
Pay
Median annual salary:

$47,050

Median annual salary:

$71,730

Job growth
11—12% increase through 2028
Typical career steps
After gaining experience, many LPNs advance to supervisory positions. With additional education one may even advance into other medical specialties such as registered nurses.Most RNs begin as staff nurses, but with experience and continuing education there is opportunity to move into management positions such as chief of nursing. Other options include becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or moving into the business side of health care.

Licensed Practical Nurse:

Job Duties: Provide basic medical and nursing care such as checking blood pressure and inserting catheters, ensure the comfort of patients by helping them bathe or dress, discuss health care with patients, and report status of patients to registered nurses and doctors.

Education: You must complete an accredited practical nursing program which usually takes about one year to complete. These programs are most often taken at technical or community colleges. Courses usually combine academia in nursing, biology, and pharmacology, in addition to supervised clinical experiences.

Licensing / certification: After completing your practical nursing course from a state-approved program, you’ll receive a certification in practical nursing. Once that is completed, you must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) in order to obtain a license and be able to work as an LPN.

Pay: Median annual salary: $47,050

Job Growth: 11% increase through 2028

Typical career steps: After gaining experience, many LPNs advance to supervisory positions. With additional education one may even advance into other medical specialties such as registered nurses.

Registered Nurse:

Job duties: Administer medication and treatment to patients, coordinate plans for patient care, perform diagnostic test and analyze results, instruct patients on how to manage illnesses after treatment, and oversee other workers such as LPNs, nursing aides, and home care aides.

Education: Three educational options are available: a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. BSNs usually take four years to complete, whereas ADN and diploma programs usually require two to three years to complete. All programs include courses in social, behavior and physical science in addition to clinical experiences in various workplaces.

Licensing / certification: All registered nurses require a nursing license acquired by completing an accredited nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Some RNs may choose to become certified through professional associations in certain specialties. Certification is usually voluntary, but some advanced positions require it.

Pay: Median annual salary: $71,730

Job growth: 12% increase through 2028

Typical career steps: Most RNs begin as staff nurses, but with experience and continuing education there is opportunity to move into management positions such as chief of nursing. Other options include becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or moving into the business side of health care.

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Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses; Registered Nurses.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience, and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

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November 3, 2016 · 2 min read

Nursing Jobs and Careers

Discover which type of nursing job and work environment is right for you.

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Across the U.S., nursing jobs continue to grow. As New Hampshire’s SentinelSource.com reports, the nursing profession falls among a small group of recession-proof careers, with many organizations adding nursing jobs even in the midst of an economic downturn. If strong nursing job opportunities aren’t enough, nursing offers highly versatile career options, from travel nursing to legal nurse consulting. The fact that nurses can design their careers to suit their individual interests presents a huge advantage to those eager and qualified to enter this highly challenging and rewarding profession.

Entry-Level vs. Advanced Practice Nursing Jobs

Entry-level nursing degree programs typically prepare students for nursing jobs in a variety of hospital and inpatient settings. Students can choose a licensed practical nursing (LPN) program or a registered nursing (RN) degree as a main entry point to the nursing career field. The duration of entry-level nursing degrees ranges from one to four years, depending on whether you pursue a nursing diploma, associate’s degree or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)that qualifies them for general patient care and specialized nursing jobs in which they perform many of the same duties as a medical doctor. Categories of advanced practice nursing include:

Specialties for Nursing Jobs

Specialized nursing jobs certainly offer choice. Discovering the right nursing specialty for you depends on the direction in which you plan to take your career and, of course, where your passion lies.

As an example, nurses interested in direct patient care might aim for a career in adult nursingparent-child nursingpediatric nursing or one of the many other nursing jobs that involve individualized treatment. On the other hand, nurses who want to help promote positive health habits and prevent the spread of disease among communities might specialize in public health nursingNursing informatics gives nurses with a penchant for technology another career alternative.

Work Environment

Along with hospitals and physicians’ offices, nurses work in the following environments:

  • Outpatient care facilities
  • Clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools
  • Community health centers
  • In the case of some specialties, patients’ homes.

Forensics nurses and legal nurse consultants spend a large amount of time investigating cases in research setting, an office or in interviews with the parties involved.

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November 3, 2016 · 6 min read

7 Nontraditional Nursing Careers that Give Back

Learn about seven give back nursing programs for nontraditional nursing careers.

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As the health care field becomes increasingly complex and specialized, more and more nurses are finding steady, rewarding nursing careers beyond the traditional hospital setting. Nursing programs, such as forensic nursing, military nursing and legal nurse consulting are opening doors—and paychecks—to the savvy nurse. If you have a fascination with cutting-edge medicine, or want to explore new places and meet new people, check out seven nontraditional nursing careers.

1. Travel nursing

travel-nursing-careers

From the pristine beaches of Honolulu to the picturesque coasts of Florida, there are thousands of places in the United States, and around the world, for you to pursue a career in nursing. Travel nursing lets you be in control of your nursing career. You choose the location, nursing specialty, and length of commitment for each nursing assignment. With a shortage of qualified nurses in hospitals and clinics across the country, you can find short-term work (typically eight weeks or as long as 26 weeks) in virtually any location and offering generous compensation. Many facilities also provide perks such as free housing, as well as sign-on and completion bonuses to nurses under contract.

Getting started as a travel nurse: You must be a registered nurse and have at least one year of experience in a hospital setting. When you’re ready to work, travel nurse staffing agencies can help place you in a job. Be sure to ask about licensure options since RNs must be licensed in the state they work in.

Travel nursing is perfect for:

  • Nurses who are interested in seeing new locales
  • Nurses who want exposure to different health care organizations and systems

Degree Needed: ADN or BSN 

2. Military nursing

military-nursing-careers

Support our troops both at home and abroad as a military nurse. In addition to the honor of protecting our nation, choosing a nursing career in the armed forces opens the door to a wide variety of educational, travel and career-enhancing benefits. In return for service in the military, you can receive financial assistance for completing nursing programs, generous financial bonuses, as well as low-cost housing, specialized training, and worldwide travel opportunities. Do your part while advancing your nursing career.

Getting started as a military nurse: After completing your nursing education, you’ll need to become licensed. If you plan to enlist in active duty, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to become a military nurse and officer. Serving in the reserves is also an option.

Military nursing is a good fit if you are:

  • Looking for autonomy in your career
  • Willing to work in dangerous locations
  • Interested in helping people in all parts of the world

Degree Needed: BSN or MSN

3. Forensic nursing

forensic-nursing-careers

Advances in the growing field of forensic science have helped law enforcement agencies bring criminals to justice. From documenting injuries to collecting valuable DNA evidence, as a forensic nurse you will be working on the front lines of justice. You will counsel assault victims, conduct physical examinations and collect evidence. You will also play a direct part in taking criminals off the street by testifying against defendants at trial. It’s important to understand that forensic nursing can be an emotionally difficult career for some.

As the importance of forensic evidence continues to grow, so will the career opportunities in this exciting new field. In fact, registered nurses in general can anticipate a 15 percent job growth rate, which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, is much faster than the national average for all occupations. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Getting started as a forensic nurse: RNs can earn an undergraduate degree and subsequently enroll in a forensic nursing certificate program. The other option is to earn a graduate degree with a focus on forensic nursing. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers an advanced forensic nursing credential, although this isn’t required in order to practice. You can also become certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) through the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

Forensic nursing is a good fit if you:

  • Already have stability and balance in your life
  • Enjoy researching and collecting information

Degree Needed: BSN or MSN

4. Legal nurse consulting (LNC)

healthcare and medicine concept - close up of female holding clipboard with cardiogram

Be a medical detective and use your nursing expertise to analyze complex medical records for your legal team. Apply your medical skills in the courtroom by testifying in court as an expert witness on a wide variety of medical malpractice, civil rights, product liability and personal injury cases.

Law firms seem like an obvious setting for legal nurse consultants, but you can also find them working for the government. Within the health care sphere, legal nurse consultants are employed at HMOs, insurance companies and medical facilities.

Getting started as a legal nurse consultant: Post-graduate legal nurse consulting certificates are available from some schools, but you’ll first need to earn your RN. You’ll also need several years of clinical experience. Professional certification is available.

Legal nursing is perfect if you are:

  • Interested in going beyond the bedside
  • Resourceful and organized
  • Looking to stay in nursing, but need a change

Degree Needed: ADN or BSN

5. Surgical nursing

Operating room nurse

As a surgical nurse, you will assist during delicate organ transplants, precision laser incisions and quadruple heart bypasses, to name a few. From preparing patients before surgery to assisting the surgeon in the operating room to charting progress in recovery, surgical nurses are there for patients every step of the way. Monitoring vitals signs, alleviating discomfort and comforting anxious patients and their families are all rewarding parts of a career in surgical nursing.

Getting started as a surgical nurse: Just like other nursing fields, you’ll need to be a licensed RN to work as a surgical nurse. After that, it’s all about getting experience in the operating or recovery rooms and becoming certified by the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board.

Surgical nursing is a great career path if:

  • You want a busy day, every day
  • You find it easy to comfort others in times of stress
  • You are organized and detail-oriented

Degree Needed: BSN

6. Holistic nursing

Woman doctor using a mortar and pestle, herbal medicine

If your nursing approach leans more toward a mind-body-spirit approach, a holistic nursing career may be just the right path for you. Instead of utilizing only Western medicine, holistic nurses use alternative and natural therapies. You’ll incorporate bodywork and meditation, among other modalities, into your patients’ treatment plans.

According to the American Holistic Nurses Association, many nurses work as consultants or coaches. Others find luck working in acupuncturist offices.

Getting started as a holistic nurse: After getting your nursing degree, you can enroll in holistic health certificate program to hone your skills in the alternative medicine field. Credentialing is available through the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC).

Holistic nursing is perfect for:

  • Nurses who want to work in holistic health settings
  • Nurses who want to broaden their level of expertise

Degree Needed: ADN, BSN or MSN

7. Nursing informatics specialist

Portrait of a female doctor using a tablet

Are you bilingual? That is, are you fluent in the technology and nursing languages? If you can decipher both, nursing informatics can be a great career option. You’ll be the chief communicator between nurses, patients and health care providers. Project management and systems maintenance are just a few parts of the job.

Nursing informatics is a growing field as technology continues to infiltrate medical facilities. Will you be there to make sense of it all?

Getting started as a nursing informatics specialist: Like other nursing specialties, you’ll need to be an RN to start. Gaining valuable work experience in health care information services will be integral. Certification from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center is available.

Nursing informatics is a good fit if:

  • You’re passionate about technology
  • You’re interested in working as a nurse programmer or manager

Degree Needed: BSN or MSN

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November 2, 2016 · 3 min read

What Else Can I Do with a Nursing Degree: Alternative Nursing Careers

If you’re having difficulty finding a traditional nursing job, there are some alternative nursing careers to consider.

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These days, a nursing degree doesn’t necessarily equate to a job right out of school.

Employers looking for experience and older nurses delaying retirement have made it more difficult for the next generation of nurses to find work after graduation. However, all is not lost and there are options.

With intricate knowledge of the health care system, your skills could prove useful in alternative nursing careers you may not have thought of.

How Your Nursing Skills Can Help

A nurse needs to possess certain qualities to succeed and many of these characteristics can be useful in other fields. A few important attributes include:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Organized
  • Team player

What else can you do with these skills? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that some nurses find work at blood drives, health screenings, in research and consulting. Here’s a look at some of your other non-nursing options:

Medical Writer

If you’ve got a way with words, you may find a thriving career as a medical writer. Your medical background gives you the expertise to write in a variety of mediums, including:

  • White papers
  • Online articles
  • Textbooks
  • Grant proposals
  • Marketing materials

This is a career where your attention to detail is important. Strong grammar and spelling proficiency is imperative as are solid research skills.

How to Get Started as a Medical Writer

Many medical writers work as freelancers which gives you flexibility and a way to be your own boss. However, be prepared to spend a lot of time marketing yourself at first in order to secure regular work.

Another option is to find employment with a health care facility or marketing agency. This can give you a bit more job security and benefits.

What you can do:

  1. Create a portfolio of your work, ideally with health care writing samples.
  2. If you don’t have enough material to create a portfolio, start a blog. If you’re interested in a certain area of nursing, carve out a niche and market yourself as an expert in the topic.
  3. Join professional organizations such as the American Medical Writers Association.

Patient Advocacy

While many roles in public health require a degree in psychology or social work, many nurses with bachelor’s degrees or higher are turning to patient advocacy as a full-time career.

As a trained nurse, you’re accustomed to making patient care your top priority. Problem-solving skills and a supportive nature are two of the most important qualities you’ll need in this role.

Some of your duties might include:

  • Communicate to patients and their families about procedures
  • Explain patient rights
  • Support people of varying backgrounds

Some nurses who go into patient advocacy open their own firms, but if that doesn’t interest you, these companies can still be a good place to look for a job.

How to Get Started as a Patient Advocate

  1. Decide on the area of health care you plan to advocate for, particularly if you don’t have a nursing specialization.
  2. Brush up on your communication skills. Enroll in seminars offering help with public speaking, diplomacy and general communication practices.

Sales

It may seem like the furthest career path from nursing, but pharmaceutical or medical device sales is not an uncommon career choice for people with nursing degrees. Since you have the medical expertise, as well as familiarity with certain medical equipment, you can provide knowledgeable explanations to potential buyers.

If you enjoy talking to people, have a knack for networking and are thick-skinned, a sales position may provide a good salary and the potential for career advancement.

How to Get Started in Medical Device Sales

  1. Include any previous sales experience on your resume.
  2. Consider earning the voluntary Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR) certification. You’ll need to complete a training program as part of the process.
  3. Stay up to date on the latest developments on pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

While these are just a few non-clinical career options, take solace in knowing you may find opportunities available to nurses of all experience levels and specializations.

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