Nurses take care of the sick and ailing, helping to heal people and educate the public about health practices for well-being. They work in a wide variety of settings, from hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes, to schools, colleges, and even business offices. The American Nurses Association defines nursing as “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations.”

In early times people tended to the sick or injured in their homes. The nursing profession started to take root and become more organized in the late 19th century. Events that laid the foundation for the field include: Florence Nightingale’s nurse education programs in England; the creation of a program in the United States, the Nurse Society of Philadelphia, that trained women to care for mothers during and after childbirth; and the growth of hospitals in highly populated urban and industrialized areas, which increased the demand for caregivers. In the mid-20th century, advanced practice nursing emerged, in which nurses specialized in certain hospital settings, such as intensive care, and were trained to provide a variety of primary care services.

The types of jobs within the nursing profession include registered nurses; licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses; nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners; and nurse assistants and orderlies. Nursing duties vary depending on the specialty and the work environment. In general, nurses work as part of a team of medical caregivers to create health care plans for patients.

The most popular job in the nursing profession is registered nurse. In 2018, there more than 3 million registered nurses employed in the United States, according to the Department of Labor (DOL). Reg...