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Is nursing a subspecialty of medicine?

No. Nursing complements medicine and other health professions, but it is a distinct, autonomous profession with its own theoretical basis, its own scholarship, and its own clinical practice. Modern nurses independently assess patients and intervene to help them.

Nurses' roles include triaging patient's health needs, teaching patients how to live with their health conditions, advocating for and protecting them and undertaking research to find new ways to help people lead higher quality lives. In the United States, registered nurses are licensed professionals with between two and ten years of college level education in nursing.

About one third of U.S. nurses have bachelor of science degrees, and an increasing number--now about 10%-- have graduate degrees in nursing. Hospital nurses work in collaboration with physicians and others, but they report only to other nurses, not physicians. While there are about 920,000 physicians in the U.S., there are 3.1 million registered nurses. For more information, see our description: What is nursing?



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