Registered nurses (RNs) are the medical professionals that work to assist doctors in providing patient care. Their main function is to provide direct care by assessing and diagnosing patients’ needs, coming up with a care plan, and implementing it. In addition to evaluating patient health, they also educate patients and families about health conditions.
Registered nurses can be found working in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and medical offices. Some RNs oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides. There are a variety of specialities within the nursing field including geriatric, ambulatory care, psychiatric, pediatric oncology, and more. To become a registered nurse (RN), individuals can either complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Once they complete their associate’s or bachelor’s, they have to take and pass the NCLEX exam, which is required to earn their credentials. The exam is set forth by the the state board of nursing. As one of the most in-demand careers right now, nursing can provide individuals with a rewarding and stable career in the medical field.
A registered nurse is responsible for providing and coordinating patient care, as well as educating patients and the public about health conditions.
Some of the tasks that registered nurses are responsible for include the following:
- Operate and monitor medical equipment
- Run tests
- Dress wounds and incisions
- Administer medicines and treatments
- Observe patients and record observations
- Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
- Consult and collaborate with doctors and other medical personnel
- Explain home treatments to patients and families
- Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
Where To Work
As an RN, you can work in multiple settings and you can specialize in different areas of medicine depending on your interests. You can be a surgical nurse, a pediatric nurse, a general clinic nurse, etc. Additionally, you can work in medical offices, nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and home healthcare services. Nurses can also seek employment at churches, government offices, and schools.
Here are a few essential traits that will help you become a successful registered nurse:
This is a job that requires a lot of physical strength. Some lifting will be done and you might also be responsible for helping patients move around. Most of your shift will be spent on your feet working and walking around the facility, so being comfortable with having a dynamic and active job is really important.
As a nurse, being emotionally stable is crucial because the job gets very stressful at times. Sometimes patients’ emotional state will not be in good standing, so as a nurse, you will have to be calm and understanding. In addition to interacting with patients, the job itself is quite demanding. Some days, you will feel defeated, so it’s really important that you have the determination and strength to keep going, even through the adversity.
Attention to detail
Being attentive is another key component to this job because at the end of the day, you are dealing with someone’s life. You will get training for everything, but you still need to take caution. Additionally, there are many risks and dangers when transporting patients from one place to another. You have to follow safety procedures to make sure they don’t slip and fall. You will also be working with some data and numbers, so having an eye for details is key.
To find fulfillment in this career, you must enjoy interacting with people and helping them. The best nurses are the ones who have a genuine passion for their profession. It’s a very demanding job, so being able to actually enjoy the work that you are doing is really important. There will be hard days, but if you enjoy the work that you are doing, it will make things a lot easier for you. Being a passionate nursing assistant will also help make a better environment for the patients as well.
Many of the patients that you will be working with are in pain, so they will not be able to do the things they were once able to do. You have to be patient with them and conscious of the fact that they will need help with a lot of basic things. This occupation is not for someone who is always in a rush.
Communication skills are crucial for this profession. You will need to communicate with patients and their families. Learning how to communicate thoroughly and concisely will allow you to better connect with your patients and understand their needs.
Working Conditions & Environment
Registered nurses work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, home healthcare services, schools, outpatient clinics, and nursing care facilities. Although they can be found in a variety of different settings, the majority of them work in hospitals; state, local, and private. Individuals can also do travel nursing. This would require them to travel frequently throughout the United States to help patients in areas where there may be a shortage of healthcare workers. Moreover, nurses who work in home health will need to travel to patients’ homes. There are also public health nurses, and they usually travel to community centers, schools, and other sites where work is needed.
In terms of physical working conditions, nurses spend a lot of time walking, bending, stretching, and standing. Nurses who work in ambulatory healthcare services are more prone to injuries involving transportation incidents or falls.
Additionally, they are often put in close contact with people who have infectious diseases. At times, they may come into contact with potentially harmful and hazardous drugs and substances. For this reason, they have to follow strict guidelines to guard against diseases, radiation, and potentially hazardous chemicals.
RNs who work in hospitals have to work around the clock. It’s possible they will need to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Depending on where they work and how busy it is, they may be on call, which means working on a short notice. Nurses who work in offices, schools, and other places that have normal 9-5 working hours will usually not be on call. They will almost always work regular business hours.
Individuals can take several different education paths to pursue a career as a registered nurse. They can either pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program.
Most schools now offer online degree options. Nursing is a hands-on profession, but you earn your associate’s or bachelor’s by completing most of the coursework in a virtual environment, while the required clinical training part is completed in the lab. Many schools now offer hybrid programs that allow you to complete your degree mainly from home. This is a perfect option for individuals who are working and don’t have a lot of time on their hands to go into a classroom for their courses. During your program, you will take a several science-based courses. Some of these courses might include anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, etc.
The program length will depend on the school you choose and what their curriculum looks like. However, for most schools, an ADN will take around two years, and a BSN will take four.
How To Become a Registered Nurse
Pursuing a career as a registered nurse can take some time, but it is a rewarding career that can help you obtain a stable and rewarding job. The nursing field is projected to see a lot of growth in the upcoming years, which will create more job openings.
The first step is to pick a career path. Registered nurses need to have either an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Earning an associate’s is a good way to get started in the nursing field, and it is generally less expensive and time consuming.
After you’ve picked a career path and completed your program requirements, you will need to take and pass the NCLEX exam. The NCLEX is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. It is used to determine if you’re prepared to work as a registered nurse. It covers topics that you learn in your program. Students can also pick up test prep books, or even take a course that prepares them for this exam.
The next step after you’ve taken and passed the test is to get your RN license. You can apply for the license in the state where you want to work. It’s important to do your research beforehand because every state has its own requirements. You can also obtain a multi-state license and practice in more states. This option would be particularly useful for individuals who want to pursue a career as a travel nurse.
Certification and Continuing Education
Nursing does not require certification, but getting more credentials can bring in more opportunities for professional development. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) offers certification for RNs. Even after you’ve earned your RN license, you will most likely be required or encouraged to take part in some continuing education courses. There are always new things happening in the nursing field, and in order to stay current with everything that is happening, you may need to take additional courses. The courses and exams you take also depend on your specific job and the state that you reside in.
As a registered nurse, you can specialize in a particular field or area of interest. Some of the areas include: cardiac vascular nursing, home health, medical surgical nursing, pediatric nursing, etc. If you take additional certifications, it could also help you open more doors, build more reputability in your job, and increase your earnings.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for registered nurses is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Approximately 194,500 openings for registered nurses are projected each year. Nursing is one of the fastest growing and most in-demand occupations. Working as an RN can be a very rewarding career, and it can be a great stepping stone for advancing your career. As the baby boomer population will retire out of the workforce, the need for more healthcare services will increase, and therefore the demand for RNs will increase as well.