Nurses are the next most common and easily identifiable among medical field careers. And for anyone
who has been in a hospital, almost all will note they saw their nurses far more than their doctors. Nurses
provide the hands-on daily care of patients at the direction of doctors. They are also responsible for
providing much of the immediate trauma and emergency response care to stabilize patients before a
doctor arrives. From carefully handling newborns, to keep compresses on bleeding wounds, to helping
elderly patients in hospice, nurses handle 90% of the face-to-face medical work involved with patient
And, no surprise, the nursing field is diverse as well. There is no one standard nurse function.
The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is one of the entry nursing levels, usually completed quickly in an
intensive, training program. It is one of the fastest ways to get into the nursing field, but it will also be
limited to lower-level nursing functions due to a lack of complexity in skill-sets and training. For many, it is
the first entry level as a working nurse if they can’t afford to go to a college nursing program.
The next level and option is the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). A much more extensive program, it is
usually housed in a four-year college or university, requires testing and degree passage, and it is much
more involved in technical patient care alongside of doctors.
The upper level of the nursing training spectrum is that of the Registered Nurse (RN). The registered
nurse program is usually associated with a university program, it requires a degree enrollment and
passage, and there is a standardized exam similar to doctors for licensing. The exam, the NCLEX-RN
Exam, is required for a registered nurse to perform his or her job.
Hospitals, clinics and medical facilities will have dozens of specialist functions that are necessary to
operate various medical equipment, treatments, and processes. These medical field careers can be very
rewarding and the skill-sets travel from one health organization to another requiring the services. Two
good examples are operating room specialists and medical laboratory specialists.
The operating room specialist (ORS) is the second set of hands for the doctors and nurses working on a
surgery. The ORS is responsible for the room and equipment preparation, assistance during the surgery,
maintaining the operating environment as needed so things don’t get jumped mid-step, and helping
medical staff after the operation in terms of immediate treatment and movement. ORS also commonly
help with immediate monitoring of patients just out of surgery and being stabilized for later recovery.
The medical laboratory specialist is more on the science side of the house and is heavily involved in lab
testing work. This specialization tends to focus on body tissue and fluid samples (blood, urine, etc.). The
work involves performing tests, recording results, and preparing report data to be used by medical
provider decision-makers on the next course of action for a patient. The training can be extensive and
usually involves and almost year-long program for certification.