Career Profile: Why Pursue A Registered Nurse Career?

Nurse Anesthesiologist

Registered nurses provide care for patients by working to promote health, prevent disease, and help their patients cope with illness. They also instruct patients and their families about illnesses and the treatments for these illnesses, as well as about any procedures that may be undertaken in treatment. When providing direct patient care, RNs observe, assess, and record symptoms, reactions, and progress, assist doctors during surgeries, treatments, and examinations, administer medications, and assist in rehabilitation. They may also develop and manage nursing care plans.

Most nurses work in hospitals, offices, and clinics, but some are employed by home health services, schools, community centers, outpatient care centers, government agencies, and private companies. Because of the nature of the job, most work evenings, weekends, and holidays, and may also be placed on call, to come in in case of emergency or need. Nurses who work in offices or public health centers work a regular forty hour week. Salaries vary according to experience, area, and the capacity in which they are employed. The average salary of nurses in the major areas of employment are listed below:

Employment services: $55,980
General medical and surgical hospitals: $49,190
Home health care services: $45,890
Physicians’ offices: $44,870
Nursing homes: $43,850

In addition to their salaries, most employers offer benefits and retirement packages and bonuses. The employment outlook for registered nurses is extremely good, especially as the nation is undergoing a severe nursing shortage in several areas. More new jobs are expected to be created for RNs than any other profession as well. The employment in hospitals is likely to remain steady, but the growth in specific areas, such as home health care and nursing homes, as well as specialized care areas is expected to grow exponentially.

In all states, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination in order to become a registered nurse. Nurses may be licensed in more than one state either by examination, endorsement of a license issued by another state, or through a multi-state licensing agreement. All licenses must be periodically renewed.

There are three types of education one can take to become a registered nurse: a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, and a diploma. Bachelor’s degree programs usually take four years to complete, while associate’s programs take two to three years. Diploma programs, which are administered in hospitals, take about three years, but these programs are being phased out.

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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*
*Bureau of Labor Statistics