Vocational nurses contribute heavily to the field of health care. In the future, jobs for vocational nurses are expected to increase in availability, with the “Baby Boomer” generation aging. These nurses perform a wide variety of tasks related to patient care; in addition to this, they are responsible for accurate documentation in health records.
Beginning vocational nurses will usually always earn less, unless they are lucky enough to land in a government-funded position, such as a Veteran’s hospital. According to statistics from the BLS, average annual salaries for vocational nurses in 2008 were about $39,030. The median group earned between $33,360 and $46,710, the 25th percentile earned $28,260 and the 75th percentile earned an average of $53,580. Employment services paid the highest salaries, followed by nursing care facilities, home health and hospitals, with physician offices paying the least. Some facilities pay nurses on a basis of a monthly salary, while others may incorporate an hourly wage. Most nurses who work on a monthly salary figure will be required to be “on call” during some of their nights or weekends off. During this time, if the nurse is called in for any reason, no extra pay will be added, unless the facility has special exceptions.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Vocational nurses are responsible for monitoring the condition of their patients; not only short-term monitoring, but long-term as well. This is accomplished by medical recording and documentation, commonly referred to as “charting” by most nurses. In each patient’s medical chart, the nurse will document their eating, bathing, feeding, medication and activity records. Over time, the nurse must then monitor the patient’s condition and look for changes of patterns in any of those areas. When change is noted, the nurse will be responsible for assisting other care providers in changing the patient’s care plan, which is a plan for their spiritual, mental and physical well-being. In hospitals and nursing facilities, the vocational nurse will also administer medical treatments, wound care and medications.
In a home health setting, vocational nurses are responsible for assisting patients with their personal hygiene, medications, injections and other treatments. Nurses in this position must have patience and compassion, especially when dealing with terminally ill patients and their families. Working with only one patient in their own home can be a very intense job, but for the right nurse, it is absolutely perfect. Many nurses find home care to be very rewarding and make a lifetime career of this field. In physician offices, vocational nurses are used to bill patients, keep files organized, greet patients, perform office tasks and administer injections or other minor medical treatments, ultimately minimizing time the physician must spend with each patient. Vocational nurses who work for agencies will be paid to travel to medical facilities in their area. They fill in temporary openings or shortages, such as when a regular employee takes maternity leave.
Training And Education Requirements
The vocational nurse program lasts about one year for full-time students. Taking the program part-time is an option, but most students prefer to finish as quickly as possible. There are several prerequisite classes required for the vocational nursing program, such as English, Algebra, Anatomy and Physiology and Psychology. Most classes are heavily reliant upon science and math. Nursing students will also learn about disease and treatments, calculating dosages and medical terminology. After completing the program, an official degree is not earned, but a certificate of completion will be issued to the student. In order to gain acceptance into a vocational nursing program, a student must have a clean background, be free of drug use, obtain personal letters of character statements or professional reference and write an admissions essay. Admission to a college does not guarantee acceptance to a nursing program; these must be applied for separately. Vaccinations and Hepatitis B shots are also required to obtain a vocational nursing degree.
Once the nursing study program has been completed, a graduate will be eligible for earning their license. To earn this, the student must take and pass the state NCLEX-PN exam. This exam covers areas of study, testing a student on a time standard. Most students pass the exam. After the exam has been passed, the state in which the graduate resides will issue a license. Licenses must be renewed every few years; each state has a different policy, but the Health and Human Services Licensing Division handles all renewals. Information about each state’s renewal policies may be found on their respective sites, but generally the requirement is a small fee and proof of continuing education, which includes inservice or class hours.
The American Nurses Association is the most well-known association for nurses, both RNs and vocational nurses. Membership requires a fee and submission of personal information. By joining a professional association, a nurse will enjoy the ability to connect and network with other professionals, sharing and learning valuable new information. A state nurses association is found in each of the 50 United States. By joining a state association, vocational nurses will learn and share valuable information pertaining to their home state specifically.
Most popular careers in Health:
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Billing and Coding
- Medical Transcriptionist
- Pharmacy Technician
- Health Administration
- Medical Sonographer
- Dental Assistant
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