Registered nurses have a lot of different tasks. They usually work at a healthcare facility, and they help patients in a lot different areas. In addition to helping patients and their families, registered nurses also undertake a lot of different administrative tasks, as well as making sure the patients and their families are properly educated about the patient’s condition and the care they need to be getting at home. Their tasks include keeping and archiving medical records of patients, administering medication and constant monitoring of patients and their vital signs. They help doctors in planning the patient’s medical care plan, as well as consult with other members of their team. Registered nurses also help in performing and analyzing tests and test’s results among their other duties.
1. Different Specializations
Registered nurses can specialize in many different healthcare fields. A few of the most common specializations are listed below.
Neonatology: Nurses specializing in this field take care of newborns who are prematurely born or have infections, defects and other health issues. Infants usually leave the neonatal ward after a few weeks, but that care can go up to two years.
Intensive care: Nurses who specialize in this field work with critically ill patients, or patients who are terminal. They work in different facilities like intensive care unit, trauma unit or coronary care unit. Commonly referred to as ICU nurses, they help patients who are on life support or dying. It is one of the most psychologically demanding specialization.
Addiction: Nurses who keep records of patients who are addicted to drugs or other substances. They help patients go through their psychological and physiological addictions, and have extensive knowledge in mental health and psychology of addicts.
In addition, an RN can specialize in pediatrics, ER and other healthcare fields.
2. Working environment
Being a RN means working in a tight, and sometimes stressful environment. Registered nurses that work in big metropolitan hospitals might find themselves working irregular hours. They can also work at physician’s offices, ERs, rehabilitation centers, and other types of facilities, like nursing homes. They all require training on the job and further specialization, however, a registered nurse can always change her specialization with minimum extra work. They do need to be prepared to work in different shifts, to work weekends and holidays, as well as nights. They work on their feet, with a lot of standing and walking. They need to be constantly on alert, and be able to assess the patient’s health very fast and get help if it’s needed. Nurses also need excellent communication skills, as they often have the most interpersonal contact with patients and their families. While it’s a very tough and physically demanding job, it is also very rewarding, as they help people when they need help the most.
3. Education requirements and certification
RN’s need to have at least an Associate’s Degree. These programs last two years, and focus on anatomy, biology, physiology and nutrition, as well as social sciences, communication and humanities. After that, an aspiring RN can complete another two years and get a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. This program can be a bit more difficult as it includes health assessment classes and health and emergency care. After graduation, in order to be eligible for work, nurses need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Once they pass, they are eligible to start working as entry-level nurses, and can further specialize per opportunities and promotion vacancies.
4. Salary and job outlook
The median annual wage for RNs is $67,490, as of May, 2015. The lowest possible pay is $46,360, while the highest is around $101,603 per year. This depends on specialization, education level, and industry the nurse works at. RN career has a projected growth of 16% by 2024, much more than other professions. The number of employed registered nurses today is about 2,751,000, while the projected number by that year is 3,190,300. These aspects make a career as a registered nurse very attractive for people who are interested in working in healthcare.