The Scoop on Registered Nurses

Being a nurse is big business in America.

Did you know that 2.5 Million people in the U.S. work as Registered Nurses in a variety of fields, specialties, and work environments? And you were afraid you wouldn't be able to find a job! Plus, over a 10 year period from 2006-2016 Registered Nurses are expected to have 587,000 MORE job opportunities. I think the deck might be stacked in your favor if you wanted to be a nurse. (P.S. - Guys can be nurses too!)

What in the World Does a Registered Nurse Do?

It doesn't matter what kind of place you're working, if you're a Registered Nurse (RN) then you are supposed to be treating patients, educating patients, and teaching the community about health issues. An RN might teach a patient or the patient's family how to take care of them after an operation, or how to take certain medications that a Doctor has prescribed, and they could even suggest the best ways to deal with pain or chronic health problems.

As an RN you are the line of defense between the patient and misunderstanding because a lot of times a patient will not want to ask the Doctor questions, but they'll ask you. That being the case, you usually specialize in a certain area of medicine so you can support patients as best as possible. RNs specialize in everything from Family Medicine to Cardiovascular Practice/Surgery, all the way to Geriatric Care.

Regardless of the specialization you choose you will have a high the chance to help patients (especially when the Doctor is running all over the place) and to make sure people get the best care they can. Nurses are smart people and they play a very important role in health care. (Heck, some Doctors trust certain nurses so much that they have "their nurse". That's pretty cool.)

What Kind of Training Do I Need (A.K.A - Will I have to go to School?)

Becoming an RN can involve many different sets of educational institutions and situations. You could go to a training school for nurses. Typically these programs are 2-3 years and they simply offer a Certificate of Nursing (something that will get you a job.) If you can afford it, you could go to college and get an Associate's Degree (2 years again) and some college education to your name. If you've got more money in the bank you might want to get a Bachelor's Degree (4 years) in Nursing. Any way you slice it, you will be able to get a job. A lot of times the type of education you get depends a lot on how far you want to go. If you wanted to become a Doctor eventually, go ahead and get a Bachelor's Degree. If your dream was to just be a nurse, maybe you only the Certificate. None of these options are better than the other as you have to pick the one that is right for you.

After you get your training you have to pas a National Nursing Certification Exam in order to get a license to be a nurse in the State where you work. These Licenses require continuing education to renew, but they are required in order to get a job.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

After you get your license you need to get a job. Registered Nurses can specialize in a number of fields. First, make a selection, and then start looking for work.

  • Critical Care
  • Emergency Care
  • Oncology
  • Surgical
  • Hospice / Pallative Care
  • Psychiatric
  • Gastroenterological

The list goes on and on. Choose a Medical Specialty for a Doctor and there is a nursing specialty to go right along with it. Who do you think helps those Doctors and works in their private practices? People like you who have nursing training!

59% of nurses work in Hospitals (Labor and Delivery, Emergency, Surgical, you get the idea) but the other 41% work in Doctor's offices, health clinics, nursing homes, children's care centers, or for Government agencies. It's like this - you don't just have to work at "the Doctor's office" like the nurses who were at the Doctor's office when you were a kid. You have option upon option.

If you want to get ahead in the field you'll probably first need a Master's Degree in Nursing. There are some specialties that require this degree to even get a job, much less be in management.

If you were a "higher up" you might be managing other nurses or managing records, or directing a certain wing of a hospital or health clinic. If you wanted to get an advanced degree you could also teach nursing or aid doctors in research.

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Registered Nurses Overview

Registered Nurse Salary:$62,450
Job Prospects:A+
Education after high school:2 years
# Employed in US:2,542,760
% Who work Part Time:21%
Physical Difficulty:+ + + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ + +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + +

The Pros of being a Registered Nurse

  • You have many different ways to get your education
  • You have dozens of specialties to choose from
  • You can advance your career with just a little more education than you already have
  • You can find specialties that require patient contact AND some that don't

The Cons of being a Registered Nurse

  • The work requires a lot of manual labor
  • The nurse is usually the person who gets dumped on in a medical situation
  • Sometimes the view of nurses by the public or patients is not altogether positive