What Exactly Is a Registered Nurse?

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This paper researches the career field of a Registered Nurse (RN). It answers what a RN is and their role in healthcare. It addresses the factors related to the national shortage of nurses and how this will affect the current and future demand of nurses based on statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, last modified 2018). Answers questions like what schooling and licensure is required before entering the workforce, do the pros outweigh the cons, and the possibilities for advancement and growth. I choose this career to research because it is what I am currently pursuing at San Jacinto College. Why I think my personality correlates well with this career and how it will change my future.

What exactly is a Registered Nurse? All nurses who work in the U.S must be licensed, to become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, 2018). Nurses work alongside with other healthcare professionals including doctors, fellow nurses and nurse practitioners in coordinating and administering treatment to patients.

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There are many instances in your life where you have probably met a nurse or been under their care. The moment you are born a nurse will assist a doctor in the delivery process and care for you the following 3-5 days. Nurses can work in a variety of places ranging from hospitals, clinics, nursing and rehabilitating centers, outpatient care, ambulatory services, and also teach in education. So, you are not limited to one set schedule or job, this variety and sheer number of jobs explains why registered nurses held about 3.0 million jobs in 2016. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, 2018).

Some daily duties of a RN are assessing patients’ conditions, taking record of the patients’ conditions and medical histories, administering medication and treatments, and operating medical equipment are just a few examples. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, 2018). A registered nurse should possess a few key qualities and skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, compassionate, detail-oriented, and be able to perform physically demanding task. As a nurse you will need to be able to make quick decisions on what course of action you should take and be able to effectively communicate with not only the patients but also with the team of healthcare professionals to minimize error.

One way to gain experience and smoothly transitioning into your first-year working after graduation is to take advantage of nursing residency or internship programs offered by hospitals. They can build your confidence and give you time to learn tips and tricks in a less stressful environment and better preparing you to work in real-life clinical setting. This can also prepare you for what is referred to as “burnout syndrome” as mentioned in An American Epidemic: The Burnout Syndrome in Hospital Nurses.

RN Burnout – defined as the feeling of exhaustion from working long hours without rest – is a real concern, having been reported in many hospitals. (Paul III, D. P., Bakhamis, L., Smith, H. & Coustasse, A. (2017, September). The burnout factor contributes to just one of the reasons why there is a national nursing shortage. There will be an estimated 1.2 million vacancies in nurse positions between 2014 and 2020. And over 55% of current RNs are 50 years or older and expect to retire within 5 to 10 years. On the demand side of the healthcare system, an aging population will exacerbate the nursing shortage: the number of hospital patients has increased in the last 10 years and is expected to increase for the next 30 years. (Golubic R, Milosevic M, Knezevic B, Mustajbegovic J. Work-related stress, education and work ability among hospital nurses. J Adv Nurs, 2009).

Where does this leave the future demand for nurses? Job prospects according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics predict a 15% change between 2016-2026, equaling 438,100 new nurses. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, Employment Projections program 2018)

Is the pay worth the amount of work and stress you come up against daily? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual wage for registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,100. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, Pay 2018).

The demand will be high but the employer’s preference to education requirements will also change and lean towards the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine: The Future of Nursing report to increase the percentages of nurses with BSN from 50% to 80% by 2020. Institute of Medicine (IOM), (2010a). The future of nursing, focus on education). Generally, registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, Employment Projections program 2018).

So before decided to pursue a nursing degree be sure to look at he amount of schooling and training future employers will require or prefer. Many options and opportunities are available to current nurses wanting to continue their education through tuition reimbursement by employers, promotions once you obtain your BSN, and leadership positions. There are several routes that you can take when going to school for nursing. The options being an Diploma of Nursing programs, Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN), Bachelor’s of Science Nursing (BSN).. BSN programs typically take 4 years to complete; ADN and diploma programs usually take 2 to 3 years to complete. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, How to Become a Registered Nurse 2018).

A common route among nursing students is to first obtain an ADN and gain a part time job working as a nurse while going to school either online or apply for RN-BSN programs. Online classes are a fraction of the cost per credit hour of on campus and allow students the ability to continue to work while going to school. Bachelor’s degree programs usually include additional education in the physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These programs also offer more clinical experience in nonhospital settings. A bachelor’s degree or higher is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, How to Become a Registered Nurse 2018)

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What Exactly Is a Registered Nurse?. (2021, Mar 18). Retrieved from


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