A registered nurse’ (RN) career is one of the highly lucrative professions nowadays. Apart from providing one with the opportunity to serve the society by supporting the sick, this field of practice presents you with an ever-evolving diary that is decorated with tight deadlines. Consequently, career opportunities for persons with this kind of training are immense. As professionalism in nursing has gained momentum, those with the right skills and certifications are given preference in the hiring process.
Demand for quality healthcare grows by the day and so does demand for RNs. Nowadays, you can even choose to specialize in a particular field of practice, e.g., intensive care or child care as demand for specialized skills is also on the rise.
Because of the demanding nature of this job post, it is important for you to enhance your critical thinking skills in order to perform amidst pressure. It is also important to develop your organizational skills in order to identify top priorities and make timely decisions. Communication skills and ability to pay attention to tiny details are also important requirements for a successful run in this demanding career path.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an expanding career with lucrative annual salary levels and admirable growth trends. But what exactly do RNs do? What training does one require in order to become a reputable registered nurse? How much do these experts earn? What licenses and qualifications are required to operate in different states?
In this article we talk about the day in a life of a registered nurse and the steps you can take to excel in this career.
- What Is a Registered Nurse?
- How To Become a Registered Nurse?
- What Do Registered Nurses Do?
- How Much Does a Registered Nurse Earn?
- Benefits of Being a Registered Nurse
- Nurse Practitioner vs Registered Nurse
A registered nurse is a highly valued and respected member of the health care team with a wide base of knowledge on how to promote well-being, prevent diseases and help patients in the recovery process. He or she must graduate from an accredited nursing education program and pass a state board examination. They should also be registered with the board of registered nursing and licensed to practice nursing. The main job of an RN is to provide direct care to patients by recording and analyzing their condition, keeping a track of their medical record and discussing the right treatment with family members and physicians.
Different states have different requirements for one to qualify to become a registered nurse, so you need to check with your State Board for more details. The process of becoming an RN also varies a little based on the type of RN you want to become, but most will go through the same basic steps in the end. So to become a qualified registered nurse, you need to go through these four steps.
Step One: Training
The first thing you need to do is to acquire some training from a state recognized institute. Luckily, due to the increasing demand of the healthcare industry, there are so many institutes that offer training to the aspirants. The basic minimum qualification needed to become a registered nurse is the associate degree in nursing, but a diploma or a degree in nursing is also a good option. The Associate Degree in Nursing usually involves a two-year program, while diploma programs typically last about three years and are readily available through hospitals. On the other hand, one can also pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree in nursing and boost it with a Master of Science in nursing.
Step Two: Exams
Having completed the training, the next step is to take up the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in order to obtain a nursing license. The exam is accepted in all 50 states and requires periodic renewal. Failure to pass the test results in stagnation until the correct amount of right questions quota is filled. The exam aims at checking your knowledge, competency, and eligibility to assume the role of a registered nurse in the real work settings.
Step Three: Licensing and Certification
The final step usually involves acquiring RN license and certification. The only way to get certified is only if you pass both the practical and written exams. The Board of Nursing of every state requires one to have an RN licensure to ensure public safety. Without certification, you cannot carry your work.
However, once you are a qualified RN, this in itself does not end the learning of a nurse. To ensure you enjoy the rewards of this great career for many years to come and are up-to-date with the advances in the medical industry, it is a requirement that you engage in some level of continuous training on your part.
Step Four: Get Experience
Once certified to become a registered nurse, the next thing is to pursue some nursing experience. This is because the more experience you have, the better your chances of getting a job will be. The experience should be gathered in medical facilities, such as health care clinics, hospices, nursing homes, hospitals and much more. In these medical facilities you get supervised by an experienced practitioner of the same.
Once you are already a registered nurse, your specific job duties will vary depending on your specialization and employer. However, the primary registered nurse job description will consist of caring for patients. They work as a part of a team with physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to administer medicine, monitor health conditions, perform minor medical operations and provide continued care to the patients after a hospital stay. They also work with different patient populations in specialized areas like gerontology, critical care, neonatology, and pediatrics.
RN gets paid very well and receives many job benefits. For instance, as of 2012 registered nurses earned a median annual pay of $65,470 which is $31.48 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, as of May 2014, the average annual income for RN was $69,790 with those in the middle, i.e., 50% bracket earning between $54,620 and $81,080 while the lowest (10%) earned $45,880 or below. As a start-up in this field, your salary may fall in either the lower or the lower middle range. Fortunately, the salary can increase substantially with advanced education and immense experience in the field. Additionally, according to BLS findings, 10% of RNs earned upwards of around $98,880.
There are many benefits to becoming an RN. This is because the demand for RNs is on a constant rise. So if you are still confused whether to pursue this career and you still need a little more convincing arguments, some of the benefits of becoming an RN are listed below.
- Great Flexibility
As an RN you have various choices of careers and locations open to you. This is because RNs don’t only work in hospitals alone hence they can work in settings as varied as correctional facilities, summer camps, physician’s offices or even military facilities. They can also either opt for outpatient or inpatient work. In addition, the industry also offers flexible scheduling. You can choose to work for only a few days a week, only during the weekends, a day shift or even a night shift so you’re available during the day.
- Job Security
Job security is one of the biggest benefits of an RN career. Job security is something that only very few industries offer in this economy and by becoming an RN you can be sure you’ll not have to go job hunting every now and then. According to the latest findings by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for RNs is expected to increase to almost 60,000 in the US by the end of 2016 which is a very above average growth rate.
- Good Salary
Salary is one of the most important factors in any job decision and the fact is that RNs earn a very good salary. As per BLS findings, RNs received an annual median wage of around $65,470 during the year 2012 so becoming an RN gives you high financial rewards as well.
- Job Satisfaction
Being in a career that does not make you happy is one of the worst things. As an RN, you get to make a real difference in people’s lives by providing a service that improves the lives of the patients in a tangible way. Doing this every day gives you satisfaction, so don’t miss the opportunity of getting involved in this satisfying career.
- Easy to Join The Career
The process of becoming an RN is very simple, short, and accessible to anybody. You can become an RN with a simple Associates Degree that can be obtained in as little as two years in RN schools. What’s more, if you become licensed in one state after having passed the test, you can always transfer it to another state in case you ever have to move.
These are both health care workers specializing in a patient care. However, despite their similarities, each of these career paths has its own job descriptions and nursing education requirements. So to help you make an informed decision concerning your future medical career, here is a look at the differences between a nurse practitioner (NP) and a registered nurse (RN).
- Education Requirements
The main difference between these two careers is the level of education required. For example, you can work as an RN with just an undergraduate education but to work as an NP, you need to have completed a graduate degree in nursing. So for you to qualify to be an NP, you have to study Master-of-Science in Nursing degree, excel in the American Academy of NP National Certification Exam and re-certify every 5 years. On the other hand, for the case of an RN, you need to pass the NCLEX-RN to work as an RN.
- Duties and Responsibilities
As an NP, your primary duties revolve around creating comprehensive treatments for patients and prescribing medications. They diagnose and even treat chronic, acute or episodic illnesses. This is because an NP is a nurse of an advanced practice, unlike RNs. However, RNs’ responsibilities involve preparing the patients for a doctor to see them, administering therapy and medication and recording patients’ observations for doctors’ assessments.
While an RN will take home an average salary of around $65,000 annually, a nurse practitioner earns up to $90,000 per year. This is because the two career paths are in great demand.
In the end, both of these career paths are great as they offer great satisfaction.
Nursing is a great career for people committed to changing the lives of others. There is a high availability of registered nurse jobs and this number is still growing. So apply today for registered nurse programs and enjoy the rewards this career has to offer.