Comparing Nursing Responsibilities in the USA vs. Brazil


Nursing is a respected and vital profession that plays a crucial role in healthcare systems worldwide. However, nursing practices can differ significantly from one country to another. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive comparison of nursing responsibilities, level of autonomy, required skills, and career outlook between the USA and Brazil. Whether you are a foreign-educated nurse from Brazil considering a career in the USA or a nursing student interested in global nursing practices, this article will help you understand the differences between nursing responsibilities in the USA vs Brazil.

Clinical Setting: USA and Brazil

To understand the nursing profession in both countries, let's begin by examining the clinical settings in the USA and Brazil. In the USA, nurses work in diverse healthcare environments, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare. These facilities are equipped with advanced technology, state-of-the-art medical equipment, and a multidisciplinary team approach to patient care. The emphasis is on evidence-based practice, patient safety, and quality outcomes.

Similarly, in Brazil, nurses work in a variety of healthcare settings, including public and private hospitals, clinics, and community healthcare centers. While Brazil has made significant strides in improving healthcare infrastructure, there may still be disparities in resource allocation and accessibility across different regions. Nurses in Brazil often adapt to the available resources and work diligently to provide quality care to their patients.

Comparison of Nursing Practices and Protocols

Nursing practices and protocols serve as the foundation of patient care. In the USA, advanced nursing practices are guided by standardized protocols, evidence-based practice, and a focus on holistic care. Nurses have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and their practice is governed by professional standards and regulatory bodies. Collaboration and interdisciplinary teamwork are emphasized to ensure comprehensive and effective care.

In Brazil, nursing practices are influenced by a blend of Western standards and local healthcare needs. Nurses work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals to execute medical orders and provide patient care. Due to varying healthcare infrastructure and resources, Brazilian nurses often demonstrate adaptability and resilience in their roles, handling a wide range of responsibilities to meet the needs of their patients.

Similarities and Differences Between Nursing Responsibilities in the USA vs. Brazil:

In the USA, nursing practice is guided by rigid standards of care, policies, and procedures. Nurses have clearly delineated roles based on their license and specialization. For example, Licensed Practical Nurses provide basic nursing care, while Registered Nurses have a broader scope of practice. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses can prescribe medications and work more autonomously. There is a strong team-based approach, with nurses collaborating closely with doctors and other providers. Autonomy and supervision for nurses in the USA and Brazil can be quite different.

In contrast, nurses in Brazil demonstrate greater flexibility and adaptability in their roles. Brazilian nurses take on a wider range of frontline responsibilities, and their scope of practice overlaps more with physicians’ duties. For instance, Brazilian registered nurses may perform initial patient assessments, carry out minor procedures, prescribe medications, and develop treatment plans with less direct oversight from doctors. This expanded role gives nurses more autonomy and impact in delivering healthcare.

However, some core nursing responsibilities remain similar. Nurses in both countries focus on providing holistic, patient-centered care. Communication skills, compassion, critical thinking, health education, and emotional support for patients and families are universal nurse competencies. Nurses in the USA and Brazil document care, administer treatments, operate medical equipment, and work to ensure positive health outcomes through evidence-based practice.

While specific tasks may differ based on each country’s regulations, resources, and models of care, nurses across the globe share the same dedication to ethical, quality, and patient-focused healthcare. Their versatile skills and empathy are invaluable assets to healthcare systems worldwide.

Nursing Education and Skills

Nursing education in both the USA and Brazil typically follows a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. The curriculum emphasizes theoretical knowledge, clinical skills development, and critical thinking. American and Brazilian nurses are trained to apply evidence-based practices and adapt to rapidly evolving healthcare technologies.

Brazilian nurses are known for their dedication, compassion, and ability to provide culturally sensitive care. As in any transition, foreign-educated nurses from Brazil seeking to practice in the USA may need to familiarize themselves with American nursing standards and practices to align their skills and competencies.

Nursing Education and Licensing

The first key difference is the academic path to become a licensed nurse.

USA Requirements

The USA has a multi-tiered nursing education system:

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) - 1-year certificate program
  • Registered Nurse (RN) - 2-4 year Associate or Bachelor's degree
  • Advanced Practice RN (APRN) - Master's or Doctorate
  • National licensing exams and periodic license renewals are mandatory.

Brazil Requirements

Brazil's nursing careers include:

  • Auxiliary Nurse - 1-2 year technical degree
  • Registered Nurse - 4-5 year Bachelor's degree
  • Nurses in Brazil register with regional councils after graduation but do not take licensing exams.

Career Outlook and Opportunities

The nursing career outlook in the USA and Brazil are both promising. In the USA, there is a high demand for qualified nurses due to factors such as population aging, technological advancements, and increased healthcare access. American nurses enjoy competitive salaries, a wide range of career opportunities, and the option to specialize or pursue advanced practice roles.

In Brazil, nursing is a respected profession with opportunities for professional growth and a positive impact on the community. Nurses in Brazil can work in various healthcare settings, including public hospitals, private institutions, and community health initiatives. Additionally, Brazilian nurses may explore opportunities for international work or specialization to further expand their career horizons.

Preparing for Success: Integration into the US Healthcare System

Adequate preparation is essential for a successful transition from nursing in Brazil to the USA. Here are some key steps to consider:

  • Research and Understand the US Healthcare System: Familiarize yourself with the structure, policies, and regulations of the US healthcare system. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of nurses in the USA will help you navigate the system effectively.
  • Develop Critical Thinking and Decision-Making Skills: Critical thinking is highly valued in the US nursing profession. Seek opportunities to enhance your critical thinking abilities through case studies, simulations, and hands-on experiences.
  • Gain Hands-On Experience: Seek clinical experiences and internships in diverse healthcare settings to expand your skill set and adaptability. Practical experience will prepare you for the challenges and complexities of advanced nursing practices in the USA.
  • Pursue Continuing Education: Consider pursuing additional certifications or advanced degrees to enhance your knowledge and skills. Continuing education demonstrates your commitment to professional growth and can open doors to advanced nursing roles.
  • Network and Seek Guidance: Connect with Brazilian nurses who have successfully transitioned to the USA. Seek their guidance, join professional nursing organizations, and attend conferences or seminars to expand your network and stay updated with industry trends.


Bridging the gap between nursing responsibilities and skills in the USA and Brazil requires understanding the similarities and differences in nursing practices, education, and career outlook. Brazilian nurses considering a career in the USA should focus on developing critical thinking skills, seeking hands-on experiences, and understanding the US healthcare system. By adequately preparing themselves for a successful transition, Brazilian nurses can contribute their skills and compassion to the nursing profession in the USA, bridging the gap and positively impacting patient care.

Remember, whether you choose to pursue a nursing career in the USA or Brazil, your dedication to patient well-being and the pursuit of excellence will make a meaningful difference in people's lives.

August 16, 2023
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