Nurse: Registered (RN), Licensed Practical (LPN) and Licensed Vocational (LVN)
I. JOB SUMMARY
Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society
Overview: Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families. Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides. Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. For example, an oncology nurse works with cancer patients and a geriatric nurse works with elderly patients. Some registered nurses combine one or more areas of practice. For example, a pediatric oncology nurse works with children and teens who have cancer. Many possibilities exist for working with specific patient groups. Some nurses do not work directly with patients, but they must still have an active registered nurse license. For example, they may work as nurse educators, healthcare consultants, or hospital administrators.
Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). They provide direct patient care in one of many nursing specialties, such as psychiatric-mental health or pediatrics. CNSs also provide indirect care by working with other nurses and medical staff to improve the quality of care that patients receive. They often serve in leadership roles and may educate and advise other nursing staff. CNSs also may conduct research and may advocate for certain policies.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. Duties of LPNs and LVNs vary, depending on their work setting and the state in which they work. For example, they may reinforce teaching done by registered nurses regarding how family members should care for a relative; help to deliver, care for, and feed infants; collect samples for testing and do routine laboratory tests; or feed patients who need help eating. LPNs and LVNs may be limited to doing certain tasks, depending on the state where they work. For example, in some states, LPNs with proper training can give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips, but in other states LPNs cannot perform these tasks. State regulations also govern the extent to which LPNs and LVNs must be directly supervised. For example, an LPN may provide certain forms of care only with instructions from a registered nurse. In some states, experienced licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses supervise and direct other LPNs or LVNs and unlicensed medical staff.
Geographic skills and knowledge are important for the nursing field, as the prevalence of many diseases, the spread of certain diseases, and health care issues are related to location. For example, some areas may have a high cancer rate, perhaps because of industrial pollution. Understanding that link between health issues and place is important in the health care profession for disease prevention, treatment, and advising patients.
Geographers at work: Health geographers, medical geographers, human geographers, cultural geographers
Recommended College Courses: Human geography, physical geography, cultural geography, environmental geography, political geography; geographic information systems
Skills: Web-based mapping applications; map reading and interpretation; geographic information systems; computer and database systems; geographic thinking; problem-based learning models
Occupation Group: Healthcare
Learn more about Registered Nurses, LPNs and LVNs from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-1
Written by Christopher Anderson
II. POWERFUL GEOGRAPHIC KNOWLEDGE