Registered nurses (RNs) are licensed health care professionals who provide and coordinate patient care. They’re responsible for diagnosing patient conditions and devising and administering treatments. RNs must be able to work under pressure and make quick decisions. A registered nurse’s typical workday can vary greatly, depending on the setting in which they work.
Nurses must be compassionate and dedicated to the well-being of their patients while remaining objective and realistic about their care. They must also be able to work well in a team setting, communicate clearly, and think critically and quickly.
Registered nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, home health care agencies, and schools. They also work in private practices and in the offices of physicians, where they provide care and consultation. Some RNs work in research or in public health departments.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:
- Documenting patient information and providing care according to hospital protocols
- Communicating with doctors regarding new diagnoses and treatment plans
- Answering questions from patients and their families about medications, procedures, and medical conditions
- Educating patients about how to manage their conditions
- Providing emotional support to patients and family members during illness or injury
- Helping coordinate the work of other healthcare professionals
- Monitoring patients’ conditions and maintaining records of their progress
- Helping physicians during surgeries by administering anesthetics, preparing instruments, monitoring vital signs, and other duties assigned by the doctor or supervisor
Registered nurses are some of the most important people in the healthcare industry. They provide an essential service that can’t be replicated by any other profession.
Registered Nurse Salary & Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that, as of May 2020, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $75,330 – with the top earners bringing home more than $116,230.
The need for registered nurses is expected to grow 7% between 2019-2029. This is due to the aging population, which will need more nurses to care for them. Nurses also will be needed to educate and care for patients with chronic conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity.
Registered Nurse Job Requirements
The requirements for a Registered Nurse (RN) are as follows:
Education: Registered nurses need either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This degree includes classroom and clinical training, where students learn how to provide care to patients and how to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. Students learn about the various roles and responsibilities of a registered nurse and how to apply their knowledge and skills in a variety of medical settings.
Training: Although not always required, some employers require candidates to complete a clinical residency after obtaining their bachelor’s degree. During this program, candidates work under the direct supervision of a registered nurse and an instructor to gain real-world experience.
Certifications & Licenses: All registered nurses must be licensed in the state they plan to practice. These licenses require candidates to pass an exam demonstrating their knowledge of the field and their understanding of the rules and regulations governing registered nurses.
Registered Nurse Skills
The job of a registered nurse requires certain skills, which include:
Communication skills: Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients and their families.
Ability to work in a team: Registered nurses often work as part of a team in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Critical thinking skills: Registered nurses must be able to make decisions based on the needs of the patient.
Interpersonal skills: Nurses must be able to build rapport with patients and work well with others in a team environment.
Nursing knowledge: Registered nurses must have knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, diseases, treatments, and more.
Physical stamina: Nursing is physically demanding work that can take its toll on the body over time.
Emotional stability: The job can be stressful at times because it involves dealing with life-and-death situations on a regular basis.
Registered Nurse Work Environment
Registered nurses work in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare facilities. They may also work in hospice centers, and in nursing homes.
Nurses must have an excellent bedside manner, be able to work with people of all ages and be able to work with a team of other nurses. They must also be able to deal with high levels of stress, as they are required to work with a great deal of responsibility.
Nurses often work more than 40 hours per week, which can lead to physical stress. They may also be exposed to infectious diseases, as well as other risks of the medical field.
Registered Nurse Career Advancement
Registered nurses have many options for growth and advancement. They can become nurse practitioners, who specialize in a specific area such as pediatrics or family medicine. The next step may be advanced practice registered nurses, often known as clinical nurse specialists. These roles require a minimum of a master’s degree and have more advanced responsibility for patients.
Another advancement option is to become a nurse manager. Nurse managers are responsible for coordinating the activities of nursing staff, setting goals, and managing budgets.
At the very top of this career ladder, registered nurses may become nurses anesthetists (CRNA). CRNAs specialize in providing anesthesia to both patients and surgeons. They maintain anesthesia machines and monitor vital signs throughout procedures.
If you want to advance in this career, it will help if you have worked as a nurse in several different clinical settings. This will demonstrate your ability to adapt to new situations and handle adversity.
Registered Nurse Trends
Here are three trends influencing how registered nurses work. Registered nurses will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Increased Emphasis on Preventative Care
In recent years there has been an increased emphasis on preventive care practices that help people take responsibility for their own health by providing knowledge about healthy lifestyles such as nutrition information, weight management programs, exercise regimens, preventative screening tests like mammograms and prostate exams.
The movement towards preventive care also reflects the increasing number of nurse practitioners across all settings; moreover, nurses’ responsibilities have grown beyond simply caring for patients but increasingly include leading these wellness initiatives in communities.
Workforce Shortage of Skilled Labor
As many as 250,000 jobs for registered nurses could go unfilled by 2030 due to a lack of skilled labor. To address this trend, nursing schools and hospitals have been exploring new approaches to educating future nurses through initiatives like accelerated baccalaureate programs that reduce the time it takes for an individual to earn their degree from four years down to two or three years at most institutions.
Increased Prevalence of Opioid Abuse Crisis
As rates of opioid abuse continue to rise across the country, nurses will need specialized training on recognizing signs of addiction and helping patients maintain their sobriety after going through detoxification treatments (such as abstinence or medication-assisted treatment).
How to Become a Registered Nurse
1. Planning Your Career Path
Becoming a registered nurse is a challenging but rewarding career choice. The road to becoming an RN requires a bachelor’s degree, some practical experience, and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
Nursing students should begin their education by choosing which major they want to pursue; for example, you can study nursing or related fields like biology or chemistry. Once you have decided on your desired field of study, make sure that it aligns with your interests and strengths so that the coursework feels fulfilling rather than stressful.
2. Writing a Resume
The most effective resumes for registered nurses should demonstrate not only knowledge of nursing but also a deep understanding of what makes a great nurse. For example, you may want to highlight instances where you have used your creativity and problem-solving skills to improve patient care or reduce costs.
3. Applying for Jobs
As a Registered Nurse, your job-hunting tactics should start with networking. Not only will you be able to gather valuable information about potential employers and job opportunities from colleagues, you’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the culture of nursing in general. During your networking phase, it can be helpful to join professional organizations related to your career; it’s also a good idea to contact recruiters within the field and ask for informational interviews. This will allow you to learn more about the companies that interest you while making contacts that may help get your foot in the door.
4. Ace the Interview
Nursing has a rigorous process for finding the right candidate. Be sure to prepare for the interview by researching the company beforehand and being prepared to answer questions about why you want to work there and why you feel you are the best candidate for the job.
Once you get to the interview, make sure you dress appropriately, be on time, and do your best to make a good impression on the employer. Show that you are professional, knowledgeable, and well-prepared for the job. When answering questions, be honest and open. If you are interviewing for a position that requires a license, be sure to bring your license to the interview.