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What is a Registered Nurse?

A Registered Nurse is a specialized type of Nurse. Also known as: RN, Registered General Nurse.

A registered nurse is a valuable and important part of any healthcare system. They provide and coordinate patient care, provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members, and educate patients and the public about various health conditions and on how to prevent future illnesses. Their role covers the administrative, the medical, and the personal side of things as they assess and work with patients of all backgrounds and ages.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

What does a Registered Nurse do?

A registered nurse is part of a support system, and has a variety of tasks they take care of on a daily basis. They administer medication, keep records, monitor patients, consult with other healthcare providers, and educate individuals and their families on healthcare. They must be problem solvers and critical thinkers, as well as empathetic towards their patient's needs. It is a combination of both intelligence and compassion that makes a great registered nurse.

It is important that registered nurses stay up to date with any new technology and tools, as these skills help provide patients and families with the best care and also help to support the physician with the care of the patient. Some registered nurses go on to attain a leadership position, such as the role of nurse manager.

Responsibilities of a registered nurse:

  • Evaluate and record patient symptoms
  • Help doctors during exams and surgeries
  • Dress wounds and incisions
  • Teach patients about self-care and healthy habits
  • Lab work
  • Review patient treatment plans and measure progress
  • Act as supervisor to some nurses

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How to Become a Registered Nurse

In order to become a registered nurse, one will need to get a bachelor's of science/nursing degree (BSN). This is a four-year program that is typically divided into two parts. The first two years focus on physiology, organic chemistry and psychology. The last two years are instruction on nursing practices, and students gain supervised clinical experience.

Some registered nurses hold associate's degrees in nursing (ADN). Associate's degree programs are designed to last two to three years, and focus on technical applications of nursing, with instruction taking place in both classroom and clinical settings.

Note: RNs who hold diplomas or associate degrees tend to pursue bachelor's degrees later in their careers. These degree programs are particularly beneficial to students who wish to pursue clinical or administrative positions. Registered nurses who graduate with a bachelor's degree may see greater advancement opportunities than an associate's degree holder.

To practice in the profession, registered nurses must become licensed. While licensure requirements vary according to state, they typically include passage of a state-approved training program and the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Depending on the state, RNs may be required to meet additional licensure requirements.

What is the workplace of a Registered Nurse like?

A registered nurse can work in a variety of places, and will typically contribute to a larger medical team's mission. They can be found in nursing care facilities, physician's offices, clinics, operating rooms, intensive care, ambulatory care, hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, home healthcare services, and the military.

What is the difference between a licensed practical nurse and a registered nurse?

A licensed practical nurse can perform simple and occasionally more complex procedures, but is under the supervision of a registered nurse or a physician. They keep records, administer basic care, are able to administer most medications, and can perform CPR. They have approximately two years of training and are licensed.

A registered nurse usually has a bachelor's degree in nursing, along with many hours of clinical experience. They must also pass examinations before earning the registered nurse title. They provide direct care to their patients, as well as supervise orderlies, nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses.

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Further Reading

  • A Day in the Life www.discovernursing.com

    What's a typical day? As these nurses would tell you, there isn't one. See the rewards and challenges they look forward to every time they go to work.

  • Registered Nurse Overview explorehealthcareers.org

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing is among the top 10 occupations with the largest job growth.

  • Becoming a Registered Nurse in Canada careersinnursing.ca

    If you are interested in caring for people and a high school graduate, you can eventually become a Registered Nurse (RN).

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