Rheumatology Nurse

Job Description
Rheumatology nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who work with patients suffering from various rheumatic diseases involving bones, joints and muscles, such as lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and myositis.

Education and Certification Requirements
There are three paths to becoming an RN: hospital administered diploma, associate degree in nursing (AND) or bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN). Program lengths vary. For instance, diploma programs general y last three years, while AND programs are two to three years in length and BSN programs are four years. An AND can provide a stepping-stone to earning a BSN and can satisfy required courses within the four-year program. Of note, diploma programs do not necessarily equate to registered nursing training.

In general, nursing programs include practical training and clinical labs, in addition to other subjects related to the sciences, mental health and nursing. Some courses include anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biology, nutrition, microbiology, calculus and psychology. Upon graduating from an accredited nursing program, nurses may sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, also known as the NCLEX-RN, to obtain their RN licensure. States vary regarding licensure eligibility requirements. Individuals are urged to contact their State for exclusive details.

Licensed RNs may decide to expand their career by earning their credential in rheumatology. Further education equals advancement opportunities for those possessing a master’s degree in nursing (MSN). Existing career options include becoming a nurse educator or an advanced practice nurse (APN).

Work Settings
A rheumatology nurse can work in various healthcare facilities offering rheumatology care, such as a hospital setting. Daily responsibilities include evaluating, identifying symptoms and monitoring their patient for any change in their health. Treatment plan development and implementation is a part of their work, in collaboration with a supportive health team of physicians, physical therapists, social workers, as well as a plethora of community resources. Patient education is the norm, providing community resource information, coping skills, stress management and an understanding of their patient’s medication.

Average Salary
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2008, the median annual salary of RNs was $62,450, ranging from $43,410 to $92,240.

Job Outlook
Expected to grow much faster than average, reports the BLS, excellent opportunities are projected for RN employment.

Other Similar Types of Nurses
Rheumatology nurses eventually move into higher held positions or settings, such as management or administration. Common types of advancement include becoming an assistant unit manager, head nurse, assistant director, advanced practice nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner or nurse educator. Other types of nursing positions held within a rheumatology department include both licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurse (LVNs).

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