Quality Assurance (QA) Nurse: Career Information and Requirements
Quality assurance nurses review nursing practices and implement change to improve patient care. Prospective quality assurance nurses must complete an approved nursing program and pass a licensing exam before gaining experience in the field.
Career Information for Quality Assurance Nurses
Quality assurance (QA) nurses evaluate the work and behavior of employees in their departments, whether at a hospital, doctor's office or health care facility. By monitoring their colleagues, they can ensure qualitative requirements are being met as specified by the hospital or state. QA nurses educate other nurses on the best practices and implement innovative procedures to improve the quality of work. They often create systems, sometimes using surveys or computer programs, to audit nurse behavior. This managerial role is often considered to relate more closely to the business side of health services than patient care.
A quality assurance nurse is a specialty that falls under the general umbrella of registered nurses (RNs). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual earnings of registered nurses in 2012 were $65,470 (www.bls.gov). Attaining a master's degree may increase a nurse's earning potential.
There will be excellent job opportunities in nursing in the coming years, according to the BLS, due in part to an aging population and an increase in long-term care facilities to care for them. Job growth of 26% is expected between 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov).
Requirements for Quality Assurance Nurses
Since a QA nurse is a specific type of nurse, students must first meet requirements to become a registered nurse. There are three main ways to become a RN: attain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, earn an Associate of Nursing or receive a diploma from an accredited nursing school. Although an advanced degree is not necessary for most nursing careers, potential QA nurses might consider obtaining a Master of Science in Heath Care Quality to learn additional business, management and leadership skills as related to the nursing industry.
After completing an approved nursing program, graduates must also pass a licensing exam that enables them to practice nursing in the United States. The computer-based exam is called the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Some states have additional requirements as well.
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