What does a nurse do?

“21st Century nursing is the glue that holds a patient’s healthcare journey together. Across the entire patient experience, and wherever there is someone in need of care, nurses work tirelessly to identify and protect the needs of the individual” (American Nursing Association). “Nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession…and they are the primary providers of hospital patient care and deliver most of the nation’s long-term care” (American Association of Colleges of Nursing).

Nurses have a variety of duties and are responsible for delivering an array of healthcare services. These include coordinating and providing patient care, performing physical exams and taking health histories, and offering counseling and education to a patient and their family.

To learn more about the nursing profession, explore the AACN’s Nursing Fact Sheet and the ANA’s pages What is Nursing? and Tools you Need.

Choosing This Field

When figuring out if this profession is right for you, make sure to look at various resources to inform you about careers in nursing, engage in self reflection regularly, and seek out relevant clinical and service experiences.

The ANA offers an array of tools to help prospective nurses better understand the profession, including The Nursing Process page and their broader “Workforce” page. Johnson & Johnson’s resource pages Why Be A Nurse, Find Your Path, and Nursing Career FAQs are also helpful as you explore career options in nursing.

What is the required preparation?

There are a variety of different nursing degrees that one can pursue, so required preparation will vary. To understand what the various programs are, look at the AACN’s Glossary of Nursing Degrees.

For information about the application process for nursing programs, see the AACN’s Applying to Nursing School page.

What is the difference between a Registered Nurse (RN) and an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)?

A Registered Nurse (RN) provides the critical care associated with the nursing profession. An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) provides primary and critical care, but also “treats and diagnoses illnesses, advices the public on health issues, manages chronic disease and engages in continuous education to remain at the very forefront of any technological, methodological, or other developments in the field” (AACN). APRNs do the same initial education and licensing required for RNs and then continue on to obtain at least a Master’s degree.

To learn more about the difference between the two, visit the AACN’s page What is Nursing?.

Finding a Program

To find participating schools with nursing programs, use the NursingCAS Participating Program Directory. You can also explore the AACN Member Program Directory.

To learn more about programs and opportunities through the university, visit the UConn School of Nursing. For the most recent metrics shared by the school, explore the 2021 Fact Sheet.