Registered Nurse Job Description

Registered nurses help patients in many different ways. Recording symptoms, performing diagnostic tests, operating medical machinery, providing emotional support, and educating patients about their medical conditions are all a part of a registered nurse’s job.

Most registered nurses work on a team with doctors and other healthcare specialists. In some cases, they are also responsible for supervising home health care aides, nursing assistants, and licensed practical nurses.

The responsibilities for registered nurses can vary depending on their area of specialization. Some registered nurses are very specialized, having chosen to become an expert on providing care to a particular group of people, part of the body, or health condition.

Even though many responsibilities vary, most registered nurses have the following responsibilities in common:

  • Administering medicines and treatments to patients.
  • Recording patients’ symptoms and medical history, and using that information to work with a doctor to develop treatment plans.
  • Performing diagnostic tests and analyzing the results.
  • Operating medical equipment, and monitoring the results to detect any abnormalities.
  • Instructing patients on ways they can improve their health at home.

Work Environment and Schedule

Registered nurses work in many different environments, including hospitals, physician offices, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and schools. Some nurses even specialize in home health care.

Because they frequently come in contact with patients who have infectious diseases, nurses have to be very careful to keep themselves safe on the job. Additionally, they must follow very strict guidelines when dealing with radiation, used needles, and sterilization chemicals. This can be a very rewarding occupation, but it’s also a dangerous one if proper procedures aren’t followed.

The work hours for registered nurses vary greatly depending on the environment in which they work. Nurses who work in a doctor’s office may be able to keep a relatively normal schedule, but those who work in a hospital may be required to work an erratic schedule that includes nights, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

Either a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) or associate’s in nursing (ADN) is required to become a registered nurse. Master’s degrees are also available at some schools. After graduation, a license must be obtained to practice professionally.

Becoming a licensed nurse requires the successful completion of a National Council Licensure Examination (also known as NCLEX-RN).

Your state may have additional licensing requirements, which can be found at the National Counsel of State Boards of Nursing’s website.

For those who wish to specialize in a particular field such as pediatrics or ambulatory care, some employers require an additional certification.

Most nurses begin their careers as staff nurses, but with experience and continued education, they may be promoted to more advanced positions that hold more responsibility.

Related Occupations.

Employment Outlook

There are currently 2,737,400 registered nurses in the United States, with 120,740 new registered nurse job openings created each year.

Registered Nurse jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Registered Nurse Salaries

Overall Salaries

Registered Nurse salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most registered nurses make between $53,800 – $80,400 per year, or $25.85 – $38.65 per hour.

Updated: 09/02/2017

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