According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare industry is adding jobs at a much faster rate than any other occupational category. What that means for the career-minded individual is that it is an industry that holds lots of potential in terms of building a stable and successful career. Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) is a popular means of building such a career. If this is an option you are considering, here's what you need to know about pursuing a career as 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.
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:
Registered Nurses work in virtually all areas of the healthcare industry. According to BLS figures, registered nurses held about 3 million jobs in 2016, and 61 percent of those were in hospitals, including state, local and private facilities. Ambulatory healthcare services employed another 18 percent of those RNs, an industry segment that includes the offices of physicians and other healthcare practitioners, outpatient care centers and home health care. Another 7 percent worked in nursing and residential care facilities, governments employed about 5 percent, and 3 percent worked with state, local and private educational services. Other employment settings for registered nurses include nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, clinics, community centers, diagnostic testing labs, the military and travel nursing organizations.
Becoming a Registered Nurse can provide a very favorable outlook for people who are interested in building a steady, interesting and fulfilling career. Job growth is certainly a major factor in that favorable outlook, with BLS predicting that employment of Registered Nurses will grow by 15 percent by the year 2026, a job growth rate that is much faster than the average for all occupations. The agency states that much of that increase will stem from a steady increase in demand for health services from an aging population, leading to increased demand for RNs in long-term care facilities, residential facilities and outpatient care centers, among many other healthcare settings.
When discussing career outlooks, it is important, to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities and is not to be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in this field.
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 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.