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{disease, patient, cell}
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A nurse is a healthcare professional who, in collaboration with other members of a health care team, is responsible for: treatment, safety, and recovery of acutely or chronically ill individuals; health promotion and maintenance within families, communities and populations; and, treatment of life-threatening emergencies in a wide range of health care settings. Nurses perform a wide range of clinical and non-clinical functions necessary to the delivery of health care, and may also be involved in medical and nursing research.

Both nursing roles and education were first defined by Florence Nightingale, following her experiences caring for the wounded in the Crimean War.[1] Prior to this, nursing was thought to be a trade with few common practices or documented standards. Nightingale's concepts were used as a guide for establishing nursing schools at the beginning of the twentieth century, which were mostly hospital-based training programs emphasizing the development of a set of clinical skills.[1] The profession's early utilization of a general, hospital-based education is sometimes credited for the wide range of roles nurses have assumed within health care, and this is contrasted with present-day nursing education, which is increasingly specialized and typically offered at post-secondary institutions.[2]

Practice as a nurse is often defined by state, provincial or territorial governments. As an example, the province of Ontario classifies nurses into the roles of Registered Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse (general class), and Registered Nurse (extended class).[3] In this respect, the title "nurse" is protected by law within the province, and regulated by legislative statute.[3] Some regions have legislated different or expanded roles for nurses, generating many potential nurse careers.

Around the world, nurses have been traditionally female. Despite equal opportunity legislation nursing has continued to be a female dominated profession.[4] For instance, in Canada and America the male-to-female ratio of nurses is approximately 1:19.[5][6] This ratio is represented around the world. Notable exceptions include: Francophone Africa, which includes the countries of Benin, Burkino Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Guinea, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, and Togo, which all have more male than female nurses.[7] In Europe, in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, and Italy, over 20% of nurses are male.[7]

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