Health Career Center

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses (RNs) assist hospitalized patients, record symptoms, teach people about healthy practices, oversee implementation of treatment plans, teach at nursing training programs, and administer certain medical treatments. They work closely with doctors and other medical specialists when providing patient care.

Modern nursing practices differ significantly from past ones. Today, nurses are highly trained and heavily valued by most healthcare providers.

Many registered nurses specialize. To specialize, you'll be required to obtain additional training and certification.

Working Conditions
Registered nurses are employed at hospitals, medical clinics, assisted living facilities, community centers, and other healthcare clinics.

Registered nurses stand for hours each day. They must have the ability to manage stress because being surrounded by sick and injured people is emotionally draining.

Since hospitals and assisted living facilities operate around the clock, registered nurses often work nights, weekends, holidays, and graveyard shifts. Some are required to remain on call for specified periods of time. Public health, occupational, and office nurses usually work during normal business hours.

Career Training and Education
To qualify for the licensing exam to become a registered nurse, you must earn one of the following degrees:
  • Certificate from a hospital school of nursing
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN)
It takes about 3-4 years to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. Some schools sponsor accelerated programs for students with bachelor's degrees in other fields. Although you can be licensed as a registered nurse with an associate's degree, many organizations are lobbying for all registered nurses to hold bachelor's degrees. Registered nurses with master's degrees will enjoy better job prospects and earning potential.

Additional information about nursing programs can be obtained from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
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