Nurses are traditionally and predominantly female; of the 2.1 million registered nurses in the United States, for example, only 9.6% are male nurses. Men also make up only 13% of all new nursing students.
A number of possible reasons exist for why nursing is largely a female profession and why relatively few men seek to enter it. Among these reasons is the very basic fact that "nursing" literally means giving a breast to a baby for it to suckle milk from. In human physiology and culture, only women have breasts and therefore only woman can "nurse" a child, hence the word "nursing" is deeply attached to the archetype of motherhood and the office of maternity.
A registered nurse (RN) is a nurse who has graduated from a nursing program at a college or university and has passed a national licensing exam.
A registered nurse's scope of practice is determined by the school and by the government responsible for health care in the region. These bodies outline what is legal practice for registered nurses and what tasks they may or may not perform. In general, registered nurses help individuals, families, and groups to achieve health and prevent disease. They care for the sick and injured in hospitals and other health care facilities, physicians' offices, private homes, public health agencies, schools, camps, and industry. Some registered nurses are employed in private practice, and a few work at home for healthcare companies.
Nursing in the United Kingdom has a long history, but in its current form probably dates back to the era of Florence Nightingale, who initiated schools of nursing in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the latter part of the 20th century, increases in autonomy and professional status changed the nursing role from "handmaiden" to the doctor to independent practitioners.
The profession has gone through many changes in role and regulation. Nurses now work in a variety of settings in hospitals, health centres, nursing homes and in the patients' own homes. Nearly 400,000 nurses in the United Kingdom work for the National Health Service (NHS). To practise, all nurses must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
A nurse's postnominal (listed after the name) credentials usually follow his or her name in this order:
Generally credentials are listed from most to least permanent. A degree, once earned, cannot, in normal circumstances, be taken away. State licensure is only revoked for serious professional misconduct. Certifications generally must be periodically renewed by examination or the completion of a prescribed number of continuing education units (CEUs).