Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse

What is a Registered Nurse?

A Registered Nurse is a nursing professional who has earned, at minimum, an associate degree or a diploma in nursing. To become registered and licensed to practice nursing, they must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Once qualified, these nurses perform a wide variety of functions throughout the healthcare industry.

Job Responsibilities

The duties performed by a Registered Nurse depends largely on where they work and the regulations imposed by Nursing Boards in each state. However, there are some general duties that apply in most employment settings, including: 

  • Evaluate and record patient symptoms 
  • Provide and coordinate patient care 
  • Administer medications and treatments 
  • Assist doctors during exams, surgeries and other tasks 
  • Apply dressings to wounds and incisions 
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment 
  • Assist in diagnostic tests and analysis of results 
  • Educate and advise patients about self-care, health conditions and general health and well-being 
  • Educate patients and their families on managing illnesses and injuries 
  • Review treatment plans and evaluate patient progress 
  • Collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals 
  • Serve as a supervisor to licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants and other staff 

Related Employment Settings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest employers of registered nurses are as follows: hospitals; state, local, and private, ambulatory healthcare services, nursing and residential care facilities, and educational services; state, local, and private.

Ambulatory healthcare services includes 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.

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shares that employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 193,100 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. Demand for healthcare services will increase because of the large number of older people, who typically have more medical problems than younger people. Registered nurses also will be needed to educate and care for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity. Job growth is expected across most types of healthcare settings, including hospitals and outpatient care centers that provide same-day services, such as chemotherapy, rehabilitation, and surgery. In addition, because many older people prefer to be treated at home or in residential care facilities, registered nurses will be in demand in those settings.

What can I do with my degree?

Becoming a Registered Nurse means earning a nursing degree, either an associate degree or a bachelor’s. Registered Nurses who graduate with an associate degree are qualified to pursue entry-level nursing positions in employment settings like hospitals, outpatient centers and physicians’ offices. RNs who graduate with a bachelor’s degree generally have more career options, including supervisory or administrative positions and specialty nursing fields, such as surgical nursing, intensive care, pediatrics, geriatrics or dialysis, among many others.

Many RNs begin their career by earning a Nursing Associate Degree with Bryant & Stratton College. This degree program uses a combination of classroom, laboratory, and clinical instruction to provide students with a solid foundation of the skills and knowledge they need to become safe and effective entry-level nurses. It also prepares them to take the NCLEX-RN exam after graduation to earn their nursing credentials.

Then, they continue their education while working in the nursing field, earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing with our RN to BSN Bachelor’s Degree program. This prepares them for more demanding roles by developing a stronger foundation in skills beyond the strict clinical side of the nursing profession, including vital research and leadership skills, providing opportunities for advancement as they build their careers.

Additional Training/Requirements

Additional training and requirements may be necessary for RNs under some circumstances. Criminal background checks are necessary for prospective Registered Nurses, a requirement for licensing. Each state Board of Nursing provides specific requirements for these background checks, which vary to some extent from one state to another. Drug testing is also generally required for Registered Nurse positions, as such testing is a condition of employment in virtually all healthcare settings.

Registered nursing positions often require candidates to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS) and/or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). Some employers may also require that candidates for specialty nursing positions be certified specifically for those specialties through professional associations, which generally involves meeting work experience requirements and passing certification exams.

If you think a career as a Registered Nurse may be right for you, you can find more detailed information on the nursing field by visiting the healthcare degree section on the Bryant & Stratton College blog. There you’ll find further career insights to help you plan your career path into the world of professional nursing.

While these projections can help career-minded people evaluate potential employment fields, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It should not be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.

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