What is a Registered Nurse?

What is a registered nurse?

Becoming a registered nurse is highly rewarding and is one of the fastest growing careers in the country. A registered nurse is a healthcare professional who has competed an accredited nursing education program and passed the National Council License Examination (NCLEX-RN). Registered nurses can work in hospitals, assisted living facilities, clinics, homes, and schools. They can also specialize in caring for specific patient types or treating specific medical problems. Registered nurses assess patients, treat conditions, aid medical staff, and help patients cope with illnesses.

Registered Nursing Job Duties

A nurse’s responsibilities vary drastically depending on the healthcare facility and patient needs. Here are some of the tasks nurses perform on an average day:

  • Assess patient conditions and needs
  • Monitor patient vital signs and progress
  • Record patient medical histories, symptoms, and other observations
  • Create and follow care plans
  • Administer medication and treatment
  • Assist with diagnostic procedures and analyze results 
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment
  • Consult with doctors and other healthcare providers
  • Assist doctors, surgeons, and medical staff
  • Manage medical records 
  • Educate patients and family on the patient’s condition 
  • Teach patients and families how to administer treatment at home

Registered nurse salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for registered nurses is $68,450 with the top 10% earning more than $102,990. However, the salary of a registered nurse also depends on their specialty and the facility they work in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government nurses have the highest median annual wages at $73,980.

Interested in related jobs? Check out the RN fist assistant (RNFA) salaries and see how nurses’ salaries compare throughout the United States.

Educational Requirements

  1. Earn a nursing degree. You have two options for nursing degrees. Earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Any nursing program must be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • ADN - If you want to finish nursing school quickly, an Associate Nursing Degree takes as few as 18-24 months to complete.
  • BSN - Completing a bachelor’s of nursing program takes four years. But, registered nurses that have a BSNs have more job opportunities than nurses with an ADN, including jobs in consulting and research.

Many nurses with ADNs are going back to school to complete their BSN because of a push for 80% of hospital nurses to have their BSN by 2020. Some hospitals will help pay for their ADN nurses to complete their BSN. Colleges also offer online RN to BSN programs which can be completed in 18-24 months.

  1. Pass the National Council License Examination (NCLEX-RN). To become a registered nurse, you must pass the National Council License Examination. It is accepted in all 50 states, though some states require additional licensing.

Career Outlook

Nursing jobs are projected to increase 15% by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nursing jobs are in a greater demand and expected to grow much faster than other occupations. The demand for healthcare services is increasing as the Baby Boomer generation ages and healthcare becomes more accessible. Nurses will need to treat the aging population in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and their homes. 

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