Updated on Friday 1 March 2013
An international student looking to find both a rewarding and stable career might find themselves studying nursing in the USA. With the many types of fields and specialties, there is a wide range of opportunities for any international student. If you are looking for a career that gives you the ability to work with people on a regular basis and make a difference, studying nursing may just be the field for you!
Careers in Nursing
Nursing is a great career for international students because it allows for growth and specialization in many areas. Most people associate nurses with a hospital, which is true—more than half of all employed nurses are hospital based employees. Nevertheless, the hospital environment allows for variety. These nurses can be found in the Medical-Surgery, ED/ER—Emergency, B—Obstetrics, S—Pediatrics, ICU/NICU—Intensive Care and Oncology, just to name a few. Some nurses are considered "floaters" and may rotate among departments and floors.
An office nurse cares for patients in a doctor's office, at an outpatient clinic or at an outpatient surgical center. These types of nurses prepare patients for routine examinations, administer injections and medications, dress wounds and incisions and assist the healthcare team with minor surgeries.
Public health nurses focus on populations working with individuals, groups, and/or with families to improve the overall health in the community. They provide instruction and guidance regarding health issues such as disease prevention, nutrition, and childcare. These public health nurses arrange for health screening for immunizations, blood pressure testing, mammograms and HIV/AIDS.
Long-term care nurses manage nursing care for residents with conditions ranging from minor health care issues to Alzheimer's disease. This could be in an assisted living facility or a nursing home community. Home-health nurses provide patient care within the privacy of their homes. These patients may require long or short term care, such as those recovering from an illness or an automobile accident. Hospice Care nurses are also available for patients when dealing with end-of-life.
What Makes a Good Nurse?
It is important that international students who want to study nursing have a sense of compassion and a general personal desire to help and empathize with others. A nurse teaches and shares information—establishing trust with both the patient and family. A nurse must have an amicable attitude and be able to work with others. In other words, a nurse must have patience with patients, co-workers, physicians and various family members. Critical thinking, good decision making, and problem solving skills are essential for any international student interested in studying nursing in the US. Communication skills such as verbal, non-verbal and written are needed on a daily basis—and any other language fluency that an international student might bring is an added bonus. Above all else, having the confidence as a nurse is imperative. It is important to remember that most patients are generally frightened and scared. Many patients may not understand their illness; it is up to the nurse to help alleviate and console them of their fears.
Growth in the Nursing Field
Growth in the nursing field is primarily due to the technological advancement in patient care. For example, pulse oximetry has taken the "guess" out of patient oxygen saturation. These types of advancements exist today but were unheard of (or outrageously expensive) twenty years ago. However, as these new frontiers allow for progression in medicine, patients continue to be sick. More often than not today's patients are frequently older and more seriously ill than in the past. Much of the health care provided to patients today relates to chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and mental health deterioration.
Studying nursing in the US provides job stability allowing international students to choose a schedule that works for their lifestyle, working nine-to-five or twelve-hour shifts. Most nurses will admit that although the pay can be quite lucrative it is the impact on the lives of others that makes their job the most rewarding.
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