How to Become a Registered Nurse

As our aging baby boomer population creates an increasing demand for quality healthcare and skilled healthcare providers, registered nurses will play a key role in controlling healthcare costs and ensuring that patients receive quality care. Long respected as a noble career choice, registered nursing jobs will only continue to rise.

What does a registered nurse do?

Registered nurses (RNs) are integral members of any healthcare team and are employed in hospitals, private practice offices, outpatient clinics, home health settings, nursing care facilities, residential care facilities, schools, birthing centers, surgery centers and community clinics.

RN duties include providing direct patient services including treatment, education, administering medications, health screenings, performing diagnostic testing, assisting in treatment planning, completing medical charts, assisting in surgery, and providing emergency care.

Many nurses choose to enter in particular types of healthcare specializations, such as emergency room nurse (ER nurse) or working with particular groups, such as children, low income or the elderly. Employment opportunities for registered nurses can range from critical care or surgery, to holistic or occupational health, which provides nearly unlimited options for nurses to select a satisfying career path doing what they love. Click here to see all online nursing degree programs.

What kind of training does a registered nurse need?

Many of those who intend on becoming a registered nurse, first become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) by completing a 1-year practical nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN) administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. This allows them to begin working as nurses as they continue their education to become registered nurses.

There are three educational routes to becoming an RN. Prospective RNs can complete a diploma in nursing through a vocational nursing program, an associate degree in nursing (ADN) through a community or online college, or a bachelor degree in nursing (BSN) from a college or university. Although it is most common for prospective RNs to complete an ADN or BSN, graduates from all three of these nursing program types are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN), which is the national licensing exam for registered nurses. This registered nursing exam is recognized by all state nursing boards. Click here to find out how to become a registered nurse.

What are the prospects for a career as a registered nurse?

Registered nursing jobs make up the largest number of healthcare positions at 2.5 million strong. (1) In addition, all jobs in nursing is expected to experience one of the fastest growth rates of any occupation in the country, with employment opportunities in nursing expected to increase by 23% by 2016. Nursing employment in care facilities for the elderly, outpatient treatment clinics, and home health care are projected to experience higher growth rates than nursing opportunities in hospital settings. Registered nurses with at least a bachelor degree are expected to experience better employment prospects than those with associate degrees or diplomas in nursing. (1)

How much do registered nurses make?

Nurse salaries are influenced by a number of factors including geographical location, level of education and experience, and employment setting, such as in a hospital, private practice, home care or other healthcare setting. For example, the median base registered nurse salary range for RNs who work as staff nurses is $59,000 to $66,100 across the United States. An ER nurse salary generally is more – between $65,800 and $79,800. (2)

Registered nursing is the largest single occupation in healthcare and is relatively easy to enter as a career path. People who enjoy playing a primary role in ensuring better health and wellness are sure to find a nursing career a very rewarding choice. Click here to get your registered nursing degree online.

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