Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse

Registered Nurses (RN) are the largest group of staff at any hospital. RNs are the primary providers of patient care in hospitals and nursing homes.

Description of  health care career information and the daily work: As a Registered Nurse (RN), you are part of the largest health care profession. You use caring, compassion and technology in promoting health, preventing disease, and helping patients cope with illnesses. You will work closely with doctors and other health care professionals, and serve as advocates for patients and families. When providing direct patient care, you will perform assessments, diagnose patients, make plans for care, implement nursing plans, and evaluate patient progress. You will perform assessments by gathering information about a patient’s physical condition, emotional state, lifestyle, family, and fears. You will diagnose patients, write up a nursing plan, carry out the nursing plan, and monitor the results of the plan and make changes as needed. RNs may also assist physicians during surgeries, treatments, and examinations. As an RN you have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of settings and those settings typically determine your daily job duties:

  • Hospital nurses are the largest group of nurses. You provide bedside nursing care and carry out medical treatments.
  • Office nurses provide care for outpatients in physicians’ offices, clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, and emergency medical centers.
  • Nursing care facility nurses work at places such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities directing the care for residents.
  • Home health nurses travel to patients’ homes to provide nursing services.
  • Public health nurses work in government and private agencies, including clinics, schools, retirement communities, and other community settings.
  • Occupational health nurses provide nursing care at worksites to employees, customers, and others with injuries and illnesses.
  • Nurse Managers or nurses or nurse supervisors work in hospitals and other settings and are responsible for directing nursing activities.

As a nurse in any of these healthcare settings, you will need leadership and organizational skills, patience, flexibility, problem-solving skills, a sense of humor, and the ability to stay calm in a crisis. Physical stamina is needed to be an RN, as you will spend a lot of time walking and standing. Your weekly work schedule will vary depending on what type of nursing you do. Nurses in hospitals and nursing care facilities, with patients who require 24-hour care, may work nights, weekends, and holidays. You may also be on call, meaning you are available to work on short notice. Nurses working in an office or as an occupational health or public health nurse are more likely to work regular business hours. A nurse’s shift in a hospital or nursing care facility can be 6, 8, 10 or 12 hours. Many hospitals offer a varitey of flexible shifts patterns, including both full and part time positions and some week-end only shifts.

Education Requirements, Licensure/Certification: To prepare to enter nursing school, you will need a high school diploma and have a solid academic record in English, algebra, and the sciences. An understanding of computers and technology is also helpful. All nursing students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination in order to obtain a nursing license. In most of the US States, here are two types of nursing programs to choose from: Associates Degree in Nursing program (ADN) – This is a two-year program offered at community colleges. Bachelor Degree Program (BSN) – This is a four-year program offered at colleges and universities. In addition to many full-time programs, some nursing programs are offered on a part-time basis or on weekends and evenings. Either the ADN or the BSN program allows you to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The BSN degree allows you greater flexibility and upward mobility. Some career paths are only open to nurses with bachelor’s or advance degrees. For example, a Master’s Degree is needed for more independent nursing roles such as Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Assistant, Nurse-Midwife, and Nurse Anesthetist. Many ADN educated nurses later enter bachelor’s programs to prepare for a broader scope of nursing practice. It is common for an ADN nurse to take a staff position and then take advantage of tuition reimbursement benefits to work toward a BSN by completing one of the many RN to BSN programs. For people who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in another field and who are interested in entering nursing, there are accelerated BSN and MSN programs. Nursing programs include both classroom and supervised clinical experience in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Wage/Salary: Nationally, the median annual earnings of RNs were $48,090 in 2002. In 2005, the hourly range for RNs was $22.81 to $39.26.

Career path and/or Opportunities for Growth: The most rapid employment growth for nurses will be in hospital outpatient facilities, such as those providing same-day surgery, rehabilitation, and chemotherapy. There will also be a high demand for nurses in home healthcare. If you are interested in management, you may be able to advance to assistant head nurse or head nurse. It is important to note, that many management-level nursing positions are now requiring a graduate or an advanced degree in nursing or health services administration. There are also many career options if you want to remain within patient care. For example, with a Master’s Degree, you can shift into a nursing specialty such as clinical nursing specialist, nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, or certified registered nurse anesthetist. Other career options open to nurses with advanced degrees include research and teaching at colleges and universities. While you can teach in an ADN nursing program with a Masters degree in Nursing, you will need to graduate from a Doctoral program (PhD, EdD, DNS) to prepare for teaching positions in four year programs. In addition, the business side of health care offers many opportunities for you. This might include managing ambulatory, acute, home health, and chronic care services.

Professional Associations:

American Association of Colleges of Nursing www.aacn.nche.edu