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Career Definition of a Rheumatology Nurse
Rheumatology nurses are specifically trained to provide medical care to people suffering from different medical conditions that impact the muscles in the human body or the joints. The field of rheumatology includes osteoarthritis, Lyme disease and gout, as well as autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. People with rheumatic conditions and diseases may live for decades with their illness and rheumatic nurses focus on helping them manage their condition so that they are as healthy and pain-free as possible.
Although some may work in hospitals it's most common for rheumatic nurses to work in clinics and medical offices. They may see the same patients regularly for many years. They work with the doctors and other medical staff to provide ongoing treatment for their patients. Rheumatology nurses are responsible for taking a patient's vital signs and may also evaluate patients. They help teach patients about their condition and how they can manage it. They may be responsible for giving patients medications that have been prescribed. Rheumatology nurses may also note any changes in a patient's condition and inform other medical staff about those changes.
|Educational Requirements||Bachelor's degree, license, additional training|
|Job Skills||Attention to detail, compassion, communication skills, interpersonal skills, physical fitness, teamwork skills, organizational skills|
|Median Salary (2016)*||$68,450 (all registered nurses)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||15% (all registered nurses)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
To prepare to specialize in a field such as rheumatology, it is necessary to complete four years of study to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. Once postsecondary training has been completed, aspiring rheumatology nurses must obtain their nursing license. With practical nursing experience and/or on-the-job training in the field of rheumatology, it's possible to move into a role as a rheumatology nurse. Certification is not currently required.
Attention to detail is important for all nurses because they must process critical medical information and respond to changes in a patient's condition. It is also important for rheumatology nurses because they need to pick up on changes in a patient's condition between visits for treatment, which means that they need to review medical records carefully. They need to be compassionate since they work with patients who suffer from long-term illnesses requiring ongoing medical care. They need the physical fitness to work long shifts and spend a great deal of time on their feet. They also need good teamwork skills so that they can work effectively with other medical professionals.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides occupational data for registered nurses. This listing includes rheumatology nurses. As of 2016, the BLS reported that registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450. While the BLS indicates that the average job growth rate for all occupations from 2016 to 2026 is expected to be 7%, the BLS forecasts a job growth rate of 15% for all registered nurses during this time period. Factoring into this fast growth rate was the need for registered nurses to help an aging population as well as those with chronic conditions.
Since rheumatology nurses work with individuals who require medical treatment, those who are considering this career option may also be interested in a number of other medical careers, such as specializing in other areas of nursing or becoming an ultrasound or nuclear medicine technician. The links listed here lead to more information about these alternate career options.