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Registered Nurse (RN)

What do Registered Nurses do?

Registered Nurses (RNs) are healthcare professionals who provide patient care and support to individuals, families, and communities. RNs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, and public health organizations.

  • Some of the key duties and responsibilities of RNs include:
  • Assessing and evaluating patient conditions, developing care plans, and implementing interventions
  • Administering medications and treatments as prescribed by physicians and other healthcare professionals.
  • Educating patients and their families about their medical conditions, treatments, and self-care techniques
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, pharmacists, and therapists, to provide comprehensive patient care.
  • Advocating for patients and their families to ensure that their needs are met, and their rights are protected.
  • Maintaining accurate and up-to-date patient records and medical histories
  • Participating in quality improvement initiatives to enhance patient care and safety.

In general, RNs play a crucial role in the healthcare system and are responsible for providing high-quality, compassionate care to patients across the lifespan.

What is the job outlook for Registered Nurses?

The job outlook for Registered Nurses (RNs) is very positive. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of RNs is projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Several factors are driving the demand for RNs. One is the aging of the population, which is leading to an increase in chronic health conditions and the need for more healthcare services. Another factor is advances in medical technology, which are making it possible to provide more complex care to patients.

In addition to these trends, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role that RNs and other healthcare professionals play in society and has led to increased demand for nursing services.

Overall, the job outlook for RNs is expected to remain strong in the coming years, with a high demand for skilled professionals in a variety of healthcare settings.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered nurses held about 3.1 million jobs in 2021. The largest employers of registered nurses were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private60%
Ambulatory healthcare services18
Nursing and residential care facilities6
Educational services; state, local, and private3

Ambulatory healthcare services include industries such as physicians’ offices, home healthcare, and outpatient care centers. Nurses who work in home health travel to patients’ homes; public health nurses may travel to community centers, schools, and other sites.

Some nurses travel frequently in the United States and throughout the world to help care for patients in places where there are not enough healthcare workers.

What are the Salary expectations for Registered Nurses?

The salary expectations for Registered Nurses (RNs) can vary depending on several factors, including their education, experience, location, and the healthcare setting in which they work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for RNs in May 2020 was $75,330, which is equivalent to $36.20 per hour.

The lowest 10 percent of RNs earned less than $53,410 per year, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $116,230 per year. The BLS also reported that the highest paying industries for RNs in May 2020 were the federal government, followed by pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, and outpatient care centers.

RNs may also receive additional benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, depending on their employer. It’s important to note that salaries can vary widely based on geographic location, as some areas may have higher demand for RNs than others. Additionally, RNs with advanced degrees or specialized certifications may earn higher salaries than those with only a nursing diploma or associate degree.

What are the education requirements for Registered Nurses?

The education requirements for becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) typically include completing a nursing program and obtaining a nursing license.

Here are the steps generally required to become an RN:

  • Earn a high school diploma or equivalent: This is the first step to becoming an RN. A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary to enroll in a nursing program.
  • Complete a nursing program: To become an RN, you need to complete a nursing program. There are several different types of nursing programs available, including diploma programs, associate degree programs, and bachelor’s degree programs. Diploma and associate degree programs typically take 2-3 years to complete, while bachelor’s degree programs take 4 years.
  • Obtain a nursing license: To practice as an RN, you must obtain a nursing license from the state in which you plan to work. The requirements for licensure vary by state, but typically include completing a nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

In addition to these education requirements, RNs may also choose to pursue advanced education and training, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, to qualify for specialized roles in nursing.

Go to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) for more information.

What areas can Registered Nurses specialize in?

Registered Nurses (RNs) can specialize in a variety of areas within the nursing profession. Here are some of the most common nursing specialties:

  • Critical care: RNs who specialize in critical care work in intensive care units (ICUs) and provide specialized care for patients who are critically ill or injured.
  • Emergency: RNs who specialize in emergency nursing work in hospital emergency departments or other urgent care settings and provide care to patients with acute illnesses or injuries.
  • Pediatric: RNs who specialize in pediatric nursing provide care for infants, children, and adolescents in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings.
  • Oncology: RNs who specialize in oncology nursing provide care to patients with cancer in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings.
  • Mental health: RNs who specialize in mental health nursing work in psychiatric hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare settings and provide care for patients with mental health conditions.
  • Obstetrics and gynecology: RNs who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology nursing provide care for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, as well as for women with gynecological conditions.
  • Geriatrics: RNs who specialize in geriatrics provide care to elderly patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare settings.
  • Nurse Anesthetists: RNs who specialize in anesthesia administration provide anesthesia and related care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures.

These are just a few examples of the many specialties within the nursing profession. Nurses may also choose to specialize in areas such as cardiology, nephrology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, and more. Specializing in a particular area can allow nurses to develop expertise and provide more focused care to patients with specific healthcare needs.

What setting can Registered Nurses work in?

Registered Nurses (RNs) can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including:

  • Hospitals: RNs can work in hospitals of all sizes, from small community hospitals to large academic medical centers. They may work in a variety of departments, such as medical-surgical, critical care, emergency, labor and delivery, and pediatrics.
  • Clinics: RNs can work in outpatient clinics, such as primary care clinics, specialty clinics, and urgent care centers. In these settings, they may provide direct patient care, assist with procedures, and perform various administrative tasks.
  • Long-term care facilities: RNs can work in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They may provide ongoing care to residents with chronic health conditions, administer medications and treatments, and coordinate care with other healthcare professionals.
  • Schools: RNs can work in schools, both public and private, providing health services to students and staff. They may perform health screenings, administer medications, and develop plans for students with chronic health conditions.
  • Public health organizations: RNs can work in public health organizations, such as health departments and community health clinics. In these settings, they may provide health education, conduct health screenings, and administer vaccinations.

Overall, RNs have a wide range of settings to choose from, and their job duties and responsibilities can vary depending on the setting in which they work.