A Registered Nurse is a healthcare professional that assists medical doctors in treatment and management of patients. Registered Nurses work in many different settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and physicians’ offices. If you are wondering: “Why become a nurse?” you might want to know that nursing is the largest health care professional in the U.S. Not only that, it is also and this is one of the most fulfilling careers. Before you can even make up your mind whether this is a career you would want to pursue, it’s fair to ask: “What does a Registered Nurse do?” RNs perform a number of important duties that include administering medication, conducting physical examination of patients, taking patients’ medical history, and supervising Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants. For you to be licensed to practice as a Registered Nurse, you must enroll in one of the Registered Nurse programs that are approved by the state nursing board in your state and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
HOW TO BECOME A REGISTERED NURSE
There are three main routes to RN certification. The first one is by completing a diploma from an approved nursing program. The second is by attaining an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). Finally, you can also take a big step towards certification by graduating with a traditional Bachelor’s of Science degree in Nursing (BSN). It’s important to note that there are two types of BSN programs on offer. The traditional BSN program targets individuals who aspire to be RNs while the programs known as “RN to BSN” are designed for individuals who hold RN licenses. With ADN and diploma programs usually taking 2 to3 years to complete and BSN taking 3, you can see that Registered Nurse Education requirements are quite high. But acquiring these qualifications is not enough. You must fulfill certain other steps to become a Registered Nurse. For example, you need to apply to the state-nursing board for licensure and register for the NCLEX-RN. Each one of the three routes described above has its own admission requirements. Additionally, every admitting institution has its own admission criteria.
However, the common admission requirements to ADN programs are:
1. Have a high school diploma or GED certificate.
2. Pass drug screening and a Criminal Background Check.
3. Submit a Transcript of Records with a high school GPA of at least 2.0.
4. Pass an entrance exam.
The average tuition and fees for a two-year ADN program is approximately $14,000. Again, every university has its own criteria for admitting students to a BSN program. The most common requirement that cuts across most traditional BSN programs is completion a certain amount of credits of college-level pre-requisite college work. Other requirements include passing a Criminal Background Check and certain medical tests and physical examination. Most BSN programs take 5 semesters full-time to complete at an average cost of $16,000. Nursing Diploma programs are usually 3-years long and are offered by some hospitals. These programs qualify individuals for entry-level Registered Nurse jobs.
WHAT ARE RN DUTIES
The duties of a Registered Nurse are many and demanding. Anyone who’s been to a hospital will agree that nurses play a critical role in health care. Among all the duties, some of those you’ll mostly find in a Registered Nurse job description are listed below:
1. Performing diagnostic tests
2. Observing, recording and reporting patient symptoms
3. Administering medication and treatments
4. Prepare patients for treatments
5. Record patient’s medical information
6. Provide health information and education
Nursing is a very broad field. There are more than 100 sub-specialties of Registered Nurse duties. This allows for specialization and focus in a particular area, therefore resulting in more effective and efficient care for patients. As such, there are many types of specialty Registered Nurses. Let’s take a brief look at some of the different types of nurses and what they actually do:
1. Pediatric Nurses – They specialize in working with parents of children from infancy to young adulthood, administering immunizations and monitoring growth. They also advise parents on nutritional matters and prevention of childhood illnesses
2. Geriatric Nurses – They specialize in working with elderly patients, helping them manage age-related health problems like osteoporosis, cancer and injuries. Geriatric nurses work in nursing homes, hospices and in home settings. Some of the main duties include managing pain, bathing patients, administering medication and rehabilitating injuries.
3. Labor and delivery Nurses – These nurses are trained to assist expectant women during labor and child-birth. After delivery, they help mothers to breastfeed their babies. Some of their duties include monitoring the patients’ blood pressure, inducing labor and identifying and managing complications.
4. Public Health Nurses – They work with entire communities to improve public health and eliminate occupational and public health hazards. Their work is mostly field-based and has a strong component of public health education and disaster-preparedness.
5. Psychiatric Nurses – They work with patients suffering from mental illnesses and are trained in behavioral therapy that allows them to advise patients and their families on how to manage illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression.
6. Emergency Nurses – They are trained to deal with emergency situations such as heart attacks and accidents. They work in ambulances and emergency rooms among other areas that require urgent stand-by emergency response such as sporting events. Part of their job is to quickly determine the medical emergency and stabilize patients in preparation for detailed observation and comprehensive treatment.
What is Registered Nurse Job Outlook
The job market for registered nurses will continue to get stronger in the coming years as the new federal legislation on healthcare and demographic trends affect the demand for nurses. Healthcare workers in this profession should therefore anticipate better hiring prospects. By 2020, an increase in the number of employment opportunities for nurses in the US is expected to reach 26%, which is a high growth rate for any job in the US. Advancements in medical care and an aging population are the main factors driving the growth in the field of nursing. The growth can also be attributed to other reasons such as the increase in chronic health conditions, like obesity and diabetes, demand for healthcare services and increased emphasis on preventive care. Moreover, most US states are facing an acute shortage of nurses due to the large number of nurses nearing retirement. Even if many nurses are trained, it will be difficult to fill that gap. Registered nurses with Bachelor of Science in nursing particularly get the best opportunities The Bureau of Labor Statistics projections indicate that by 2022, the nation will be in deed of about one million new nurses. During this time, the RN workforce will be expected to grow from 2.7 million to 3.2 million, creating about 526,800 new nursing jobs. Advanced practice registered nurses jobs are particularly growing faster than ordinary RN jobs. By 2022, more positions for certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists will open up and getting a nursing job will be much easier.
How Much Does a Registered Nurse Make
The average Registered Nurse salary is about $68,540 per annum or 32.95 per hour for those working in government institutions. Those in private, state and local hospitals earn an average of $67,210 per annum ($32.31 per hour). California, Vallejo, San Jose and certain metropolitan parts of San Francisco have some of the highest-paid RN jobs. Registered nurses receive a very good pay compared to most healthcare professionals. For instance Licensed Vocational Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses receive smaller paychecks than Registered Nurses. RNs have varied options for salary increment and advancement. When they further their education, they become nursing practitioners and earn an average annual salary of $95,070. Moreover the shortage of nurses has compelled most employers to increase their remunerations, avail flexible working hours and give additional benefits so as to attract new one as well as retain their current workforce. In general, registered nurses working in metropolitan areas earn more than those working in other parts of the country. Those who work during holidays and weekends earn more. The same applies for those who work on night-shifts. In addition, there are other RN benefits which include: personal benefits, employment benefits and professional benefits. The registered nurse employment benefits include perks such as sick leave, paid vacation, medical, vision and dental insurance, employee health benefits, paid holidays, social security and education benefits. Professional benefits include professional growth, opportunities for advancement and membership. Nurses are regarded as very important members of the society. This helps to build their personal autonomy.
Top 10 accredited RN schools
Before you opt for a Registered Nurse training program, it is important to go through various reviews and nursing school guides so as to select the best. Here are some of the best nursing education programs in the US.
1. Johns Hopkins University: According to the 2015 nursing school rankings by the News and World Report, this is the best registered nursing school in United States. The school offers a number of pre-licensure options, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Science in Nursing. It has topnotch programs in nursing service administration and community health.
2. University of Pennsylvania: This is the second best institution offering nursing programs in the US. The school offers accelerated RN programs for two years and a bachelor’s degree for four years. The nursing degrees are accredited by ACEN while Master’s and Bachelor’s degree programs are accredited by CCNE. The university has flexible degree opportunities that enable students to pursue other programs too. Nursing students can access high-tech health care equipments and learn in a controlled and safe environment.
3. University of Washington, School of Nursing: According to the US News and World Report, this institution is currently at number three in the nation. The university offers multiple nursing programs which include;
I. Masters of Science in Nursing,
II. Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
III. Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing,
IV. Doctor of Nursing Practice and
V. Accelerates BSN or ABSN.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, one becomes eligible to take the RN licensure examination. The accelerated Bachelor’s degree in nursing is meant for students with bachelor’s degrees in different fields. They also have the modified 4-quarter program which targets licensed registered nurses who want to work towards BSN.
4. University of California, the San Francisco School of Nursing: It is currently ranked fourth among accredited nursing schools. It was among the top ten schools nationwide in rated nursing specialties such as surgical nurse, adult nurse practitioner, mental health nurse, family nurse practitioner and adult nursing. Other highly ranked programs offered here include, community/public health nursing, pediatric nurse practitioner and geriatrics practitioner. The school also receives high research funding from NIH. Degree programs offered include;
I. Master of Science in Nursing: It prepares learners to become leaders in the field of nursing.
II. Masters Entry Program in Nursing: A three-year program leading to the Master of Science in nursing. It is meant for students with a bachelor’s degree in a different field other than nursing. Graduates are prepared as registered nurses with advanced clinical skills.
III. PhD in Nursing: It targets students and professionals who would like to become scientists and carryout research in medicine and academia.
IV. PhD in Sociology: This is a doctoral program that focuses on the sociology of health, illness, healthcare systems and bio-systems.
5. University of North-Carolina, School of Nursing: This is among the top five nursing schools in America. It offers a full complement of the education programs for practitioners and aspiring nurses. The school focuses on practice, research and nursing education. Some of the programs offered include;
I. Bachelor of Science in Nursing
II. Master of Science in Nursing
IV. Post-master’s program
V. Doctoral programs or fellowships
The programs include family nurse practitioner, nursing service administration, pediatric nurse practitioner and mental/psychiatric health clinical nurse specialist.
6. University of Michigan, School of Nursing: This institution has been ranked six by the United States News and World Report. It offers programs meant for community education and professional development. It gives students world-class nursing education. The undergraduate nursing programs offered include Accelerated BSN and Bachelor of Science in Nursing while specialties include acute, critical and long-term care, systems leadership and health promotion. It has certificate, undergraduate, master’s and doctoral options.
7. Duke University: The school has continually been among the top ten nursing programs for more than 10 years. It offers topnotch doctorate, PhD and accelerated nursing programs. It also offers various online programs.
8. The Oregon Health and Science University, School of Nursing: The school offers certificate and education programs as well as graduate, undergraduate and doctoral level nursing degrees. The faculty has renowned educators, scholars and practitioners who are dedicated to producing quality nursing care, education and research. It provides the best environment for teaching, innovation and exceptional learning experience.
9. University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing Programs: The school offers nursing programs at different levels. Registered Nurses with an entry-level education are eligible to enter RN options, which is the easiest way to earn a BSN.
10. Yale University School of Nursing: The institution is renowned for excellence in research, teaching and clinical practice. It is also among the top nursing schools that receive the National Institute of Health research funding.
Online RN Programs
Registered Nursing programs are regulated by state-boards of nursing in most states. Because of the sensitivity of the nursing job and the clinical and hands-on nature of the training, approval to offer Registered Nurse programs that lead to licensure is only granted to institutions with physical learning facilities. Even such institutions have to demonstrate adequate capacity to offer the program at set standards and in accordance with the law. State-nursing boards also conduct periodic surveys to make sure that institutions adhere to the standards. However, when it comes to furthering nursing education, an already licensed Registered Nurse can enroll in one of the many accredited online nursing programs. RN to BSN programs are offered by many accredited universities across the U.S. and are very popular with Registered Nurses who want to enhance their career prospects.