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Get the Facts on a Career as a Registered Nurse

As the American healthcare system continues to expand, registered nurses are in more demand than ever before. The combination of an aging population, emerging technology, and a wave of retiring nurses means plenty of opportunities in the years to come.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly three million registered nurses working in the United States. Around 60 percent of these healthcare professionals work in hospitals, with others providing care in physicians’ offices, clinics, governmental organizations, schools, and rehab agencies. Home health settings, long-term care facilities, and the military also employ a significant number of registered nurses.

Some of the main duties of a registered nurse are:

  • Providing direct care to patients
  • Assisting physicians with various procedures
  • Leading public health education efforts
  • Operating medical monitoring equipment
  • Offering guidance to family members

Healthy job growth is projected for registered nurses in the years to come. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 19 percent growth in the field from 2012-2022. As for salary, the national median salary for registered nurses was $66,640 as of 2014.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

There are a few basic steps you must take to become a registered nurse. The first is to complete an accredited nursing program. There are several options here, including nursing diplomas, associates degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Diploma programs are hospital-based and provide hands-on guidance along with courses in anatomy, biology, and psychology. Associates degree programs go to greater depths in basic nursing concepts, while bachelor’s degree curricula provide a wider base of healthcare-related concepts and theories.

The second step is to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Aspiring registered nurses sign up for this examination through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The computerized test averages 119 questions, and candidates have six hours to complete it. Those who do not pass must wait 45 days before taking it again.

After passing the NCLEX-RN exam, obtaining a state license is the next step. Students must check with their state boards of nursing to ensure they have the proper requirements in place. From there, registered nurses can find employment, gain experience, and decide if they want to advance their educations. Various master’s degree programs can open doors to specialized roles such as nurse anesthetist and certified nurse specialist.

Essential Skills for a Successful Nursing Career

A few key attributes are essential for thriving as a registered nurse. Along with clinical and administrative skills, critical thinking is a crucial strength for nursing professionals. Nurses often work in emergency situations in which timely decisions are absolutely critical. Attention to detail is another core quality shared by the most successful registered nurses. Communication skills are also vital in relaying treatment plans to patients, other medical staff, and family members.

Registered nurses also need to be proficient using all kinds of instruments and software. Medical equipment such as syringes, defibrillators, forceps, and catheters are essential tools of the trade. The same can be said for medical software that includes expansive databases.



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Institution Level: Between 2 and 4 years

Location:709 Mall Boulevard, Savannah, GA 31406-4805

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