Different Roles in Nursing

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Lily Earwood, Contributor

Many people believe that nurses only have one role which would be working in a hospital. However, in reality, there are many other roles that a registered nurse can decide to get into such as a public health nurse, a nurse educator, and a critical care nurse.


Public Health Nursing

Kelly Earwood, a nurse of 16 years, is a now a nurse educator, but before that, she worked as a public health nurse in a program called Nurse Family Partnership. In this job, she helped first-time mothers by going into their home and teaching them about pregnancy, birth, and parenthood.

“In that position, I was very, very impactful in people’s lives,” she stated, when asked if she enjoyed that job in which she worked for two years. “In the public health sector, you are trying to prevent issues and we were trying to give these young moms tools to help them be successful in parenting.”

Within each visit to the patient’s home, the patient would have already picked a topic, such as healthy food choices, and the nurse would go on to develop a lesson plan to assist their patient. Additionally, the nurse will help their clients with problems that they have about their baby such as breastfeeding.

Nurse Educator

Jane Moeller, a nurse educator at CSU, is a maternity instructor who works with third-semester students. In this role as a registered nurse, she teaches about pregnancy, the birth process, high-risk babies, and multiple other topics related to maternity. Other days, she brings her students to the hospital either for them to observe or sometimes help in the unit.

“It fulfills my need to be hands on, working with patients and being involved in the development of future nurses,” Moeller replied when asked why she liked her educating position. She gets to teach her students yet go to the hospital and do work there as well. Her days in her position are always diverse and each day she loves how she gets to do something different.

Additionally, she loves to work and connect with her students. As a nurse educator at a college level, she enjoys seeing the development within her students and help her future nurses through her lesson plans. Also, she answers her students questions and helps the ones that aren’t doing as well.

Critical Care Nursing

Critical-Care-Rapid-Response nurses are an in-house hospital team that respond to calls from medical teams when their patients are in need a higher level of care. The nurse can help them with breathing, heart problems, and other life-threatening issues.

Jill Doherty, a critcial nurse of 17 years, works at Trident Hospital and is a part of their Rapid Response team.

When asked what makes a good critical nurse, she replied, “Being able to think quickly in a moment and prioritize what needs to be done first. Also, being able to assess a person from head to toe quite quickly to see what interventions need to be done.” Additionally, she said that teamwork plays a big part of helping a critically sick person.

She continued to explain how the patient contact is the best part of her job. Critical care nurses are not just assisting the patient, but they are also treating their patient’s family. The family is under a lot of stress since their loved one is critically ill or injured. This job is a really good way to connect with people.


There are many roles within the nursing profession. Not only can registered nurses work in a hospital, but they can also work in public health, a nurse educator, and even in a school. For the people that are interested in nursing, Kelly Earwood suggests that you need to “work hard in school and consider doing a job shadow to see all the different opportunities.”