What is a Registered Nurse | What Does an RN Do

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.

Registered nurses (RNs) form the backbone of the US healthcare system in most ways. They can perform various 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
What is a Registered Nurse

What is a Registered Nurse – Registered nurses’ responsibilities

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 a promising career outlook 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, significantly higher than others. Like other healthcare professions, RNs can expect a rise in demand over the next ten years. As per BLS reports, we expect 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, a registered nurse has several other benefits.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the major benefits of becoming a registered nurse:

  • The flexibility of work—Work flexibility varies widely in nursing. While many hospital settings offer 12-hour shifts that could result in a four-day workweek, nurses in other settings, such as clinics, schools, or office-based roles, may work more traditional hours.
  • Flexibility often depends on the employer, the specific role, and the healthcare setting. This means you can get sufficient time off work and spend quality time with your family.
  • Job security—Nurses are always in demand at hospitals and clinics, and this need is expected to increase in the future.
  • Efficiency – Nurses are in demand globally, but working internationally typically requires obtaining the appropriate certification or license for the destination country, which can vary significantly in process and difficulty. Travel nursing within the U.S. is a popular option for RNs looking for short-term contracts across states, although this, too, requires meeting state-specific licensing requirements.
  • Active lifestyle – Working as a nurse, you must be active all the time instead of sitting behind a desk all day.
  • Job satisfaction—Nursing is one of the most satisfying 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 optimal care. Hence, to work as a licensed RN, you must have the right education, training, certification, and specialization.

Here are the steps to becoming a registered nurse in the United States:

1 – Complete the accredited nursing program

You must enroll in and complete a nursing program to qualify for your nursing certification. It may take 2 to 4 years, and it prepares candidates for a nursing career by teaching anatomy, chemistry, psychology, and physiology, as well as 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 become a registered nurse. Colleges and universities usually offer this program for up to four years, but it can be completed in less time if you have prior nursing credentials. A BSN degree is usually the most competent 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.

Diploma Program

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 must register with the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) offers it. The NCLEX exam is necessary for state licensing boards to decide if the candidate is ready for a nursing license.

The timing for taking the NCLEX exam after graduation can vary depending on the individual’s readiness, application processing times, and available test dates. Candidates should prepare adequately and coordinate with their nursing education program and the state board of nursing to understand the best timeline for their circumstances. To take this exam, you must meet several eligibility criteria and apply through your local regulatory body. Later, you must 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 must obtain a nursing license from the state where you plan to work as a nurse. Remember, the specific regulations for acquiring a nursing license vary from state to state, so check your state’s rules with the state regulatory board.


A registered nurse (RN) is a fruitful and satisfying position in the healthcare industry. As an RN, you must assist doctors and other healthcare professionals administer 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.

See Also

What is Forensic Nursing

Online DNP Programs

Best Nursing Schools in the US

Medication Aide Certification

Florida Board of Nursing

Types of Nurses

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

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