What is a Registered Nurse – Overview
A registered nurse (RN) is a certified medical professional trained to provide hands-on patient care. RNs work in different types of healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, doctor’s clinics/offices, nursing homes, prisons, homes, long-term care facilities and others.
In most ways, registered nurses form the backbone of the US healthcare system. RNs can perform a wide variety of tasks and work directly with doctors, patients and other healthcare professionals.
What Does a Registered Nurse Do?
A registered nurse helps patients with many health-related tasks. For instance, an RN may be tasked with the following:
- Patient care management
- Providing basic comfort and care
- Promoting and maintaining good health
- Control safety and infection risks
- Offer different kinds of therapies
Registered nurses’ responsibilities usually depend on the type of facility, specialty and the patient they work with. For instance, if you choose to become an RN, you should be ready to manage the below-listed tasks:
- Preparing patients for medical exams, and treatments and making assessments based on results
- Administering medicines and treatments
- Recording medical histories and symptoms
- Using and monitoring medical equipment
- Helping to set up effective patient care plans
- Educating patients and caregivers on how to manage conditions and provide post-treatment care
- Working with other healthcare professionals as part of the team of providers
What are the salary and job prospects for a Registered Nurse?
Registered nurses tend to have a higher average salary in the US and also have a promising career outlook too, in the next few years.
According to reports by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual pay for a registered nurse in the US is around USD 77,600, which is significantly higher than others. Similar to other healthcare professions, RNs can expect a rise in demand over the next ten years. As per BLS reports, we can expect to see around 203,200 new job openings for RNs every year.
What are the benefits of becoming a Registered Nurse?
Besides earning a higher average salary and having an in-demand skill set, there are several other benefits of being a registered nurse.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the major benefits of becoming a registered nurse in 2023:
- The flexibility of work – Nurses usually don’t work the typical 9-5 shift but instead work 12-hour shifts three days a week. This means that you can get sufficient time off of work and spend quality time with your family.
- Job security – Nurses are always in demand at hospitals and clinics. Hence this need is expected to rise in the future.
- Efficiency – Nurses, similar to other medical professionals, are required everywhere. Even if you don’t have the necessary certification to work abroad, you can easily acquire it and work as a travel nurse.
- Active lifestyle – Working as a nurse, you will need to be active all the time instead of sitting behind a desk all day.
- Job satisfaction – Nursing is one of the most satisfactory fields to work in, especially if you are a people person and like to care for others.
How to Become a Registered Nurse?
Registered nurses are trained and licensed healthcare professionals who help patients and ensure that patients receive optimal care. Hence, you will need to have the right education, training, certification and specialization to work as a licensed RN.
Here are the steps to becoming a registered nurse in the United States in 2023:
1 – Complete the accredited nursing program
You will need to enroll in and complete a nursing program to qualify for your nursing certification. It may take between 2 to 4 years and prepares candidates for a nursing career by teaching anatomy, chemistry, psychology, physiology and applied-to-learn courses, such as wound care.
In the US, there are three types of nursing programs you can enroll in to qualify for the nursing exam. These are:
BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)
Completing an accredited bachelor’s degree is one of the most popular ways to be a registered nurse. Usually, colleges and universities offer this program for up to 4 years, but it can be completed in less time if you have prior nursing credentials. A BSN degree is usually the most competent degree for entry-level nursing positions and is necessary to become a more advanced nursing professional.
ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing)
An ADN program can be completed at any technical or community college near you, and you receive an ADN which usually takes around 2-3 years to complete.
Earning a diploma in nursing is also a common way to join the nursing profession. Though this is less common than ADN and BSN, some hospitals offer nursing positions to candidates with a diploma in nursing.
2 – Pass the licensing exam
Once you have completed your diploma or degree course, you will need to register with the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). It is offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The NCLEX exam is necessary for state licensing boards to decide if the candidate is ready for a nursing license.
Most candidates opt to take the NCLEX exam a month after graduation. To take this exam, you will need to meet several eligibility criteria and apply through your local regulatory body. Later on, you will need to register on the Pearson VUE website or by phone to get the test dates and other information. You will have to pay around US$ 200 for the licensure registration fee.
3 – Get your state’s license to practice
Upon successfully passing the NCLEX exam, you will be required to obtain a nursing license from the state in which you plan to work as a nurse. Remember, the specific regulations for acquiring a nursing license varies from state to state, so make sure to check your state’s particular regulations with the state regulatory board.
A registered nurse (RN) is a fruitful and satisfying position in the healthcare industry. As an RN, you will be required to assist doctors and other healthcare professionals in administering optimal patient care. To do this, you must first earn a degree and pass the licensing exam to become a certified registered nurse in the US.
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