The registered nurse job description portrays a professional whose essential function is to provide medical care and assist physicians in their services. As discussed in the following sections, registered nurses provide knowledge and encouragement to patients and those concerned about them.
Within the registered nursing field are numerous practice specialties and opportunities to pursue career interests. The RN job description below explains the education, training and skills necessary to work in this field.
Job Overview: What Does a Registered Nurse Professional Do?
Registered nurses assume responsibility for the care of patients and the comfort of their families and caretakers. Within the registered nurse job description lie roles such as treatment provider, medical team support member, supervisor and educator and part-counselor of patients and families. Listening, speaking, observing and analysis are among the needed skills of registered nurses.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
- Record observations, symptoms and medical histories of patients.
- Administer treatments and medications.
- Use and monitor medical equipment to obtain vital signs and track conditions of patients.
- Assist physicians and other health care professionals with examinations, analysis of results, diagnoses and care plans.
- Establish patient care plans or contribute to existing ones.
- Inform patients and their families about recovery at home, managing illnesses and injuries, and post-treatment actions.
- In certain cases, supervise licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants and home health aides.
The type of patients or health conditions can define the registered nurse job description. For example, pediatric nurses serve children, while geriatric nurses help treat elderly patients. In neonatal units, nurses must observe and report data such as heart rates and weight for newborns. Oncology nurses practice in cancer treatment.
Registered Nurse Job Essential Skills
Emotional. Registered nurses must manage emotions against a backdrop of emergencies and patients and their families experiencing stress or trauma. Emotional skills also involve the ability to empathize with and exhibit compassion to patients and families.
Organization. The RN job description includes the necessity of being able to treat multiple patients with different conditions in a single time period. Registered nurses must organize charts and work areas to know the details needed correctly treat and administer medicines to patients. Organization helps assure registered nurses deliver medications at the proper times and otherwise attend regularly to their needs.
Physical. With shifts lasting in many cases at least twelve hours, registered nurses must have the stamina to walk and stand for long periods. Physical skills also include the ability to carefully inject medicines, vaccinations or other treatments and to move equipment and patients.
Communication. Effective communication helps registered nurses collaborate with physicians and other professionals and instruct patients and families. Registered nurses must listen attentively to understand patient complaints and statements and instructions from physicians. Patients and their friends or families must be able to understand how and when to take medications and follow other care or recovery instructions.
Analytical. Registered nurses provide treatments or offer courses of action based on an analysis of observations and other information or conditions. As they need to accurately administer medications, the registered nurse job description includes basic knowledge of formulas and conversions of measurements.
Becoming a Registered Nurse Professional
Multiple paths can lead to a career as a registered nurse. While the type of degree programs varies in certain respects, they all share a core of medical and scientific knowledge. Ultimately, all who seek to be called registered nurses must be licensed. With higher levels of education, especially at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels, come opportunities to hold administrative, academic and other senior or advanced positions.
Qualifications & Training
Aspiring registered nurses can complete their education through a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program, a two to three-year associates program or a nursing diploma program run by a hospital. In these programs, classes include anatomy, psychology, nutrition, physiology, behavioral science, microbiology and chemistry. Supervised clinical experience is also featured in these programs. Students pursuing BSN add physical sciences, leadership, communication and critical thinking to their course of study.
Students who complete any of the tracks can qualify for entry-level nursing positions. Moreover, with a Bachelor of Science or master’s degree, nurses have better tracks at administrative, research, teaching or consultative position. Depending on the employer, especially hospitals, a BSN serves as a preference, if not a prerequisite.
In all states and the District of Columbia, registered nurses must earn a license to practice. Generally, candidates must attend an approved nursing program and pass a National Counsel Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Nursing degree programs afford registered nurse candidates supervised clinical experience. According to Nurse Journal, internships can afford aspirants an advantage in hiring because of the opportunity to learn the operation of various aspects of a hospital. Filling volunteer positions or roles such as research, data entry and clinical clerking expose would-be registered nurses to the medical field and hospital.
In general, as the registered nurse job description shows, these professionals work full time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in six registered nurses was a part-timer in 2014.
In the hospital setting, the RN job description includes nights, weekends, predawn hours and other irregular shifts. Registered nurses in hospitals may work at least 12 hours at a time. Approximately six in ten registered nurses work in hospitals. For those in clinics, schools, office and other settings that are not open round the clock, weekdays and traditional office hours are standard. However, certain clinics and urgent or primary care centers offer evenings and weekend service for patients.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16 percent rise in the employment of registered nurses from 2014 to 2024. In fact, this translates to 439,300 new registered nurses in this period. Factors such as the aging population and increased access to health care and insurance will drive the demand for medical services. The prevalence of personal injuries should continue the need for emergency room, intensive care and critical care nurses. To illustrate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, in 2015, motor vehicle wrecks accounted for 35,092 fatalities.
At 1,587,040 registered nurses, General Medical and Surgical Hospitals constitute the largest sector of employers for this occupation. As hospitals seek to reduce stay of patients, including older ones, care will tend to shift to nursing facilities and home health providers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Home Health Care Services ranked third in employment of registered nurses at 173,590. With 154,060 registered nurses, Nursing Care Facilities trailed only hospitals, physicians’ offices and home health care in employment levels.
Registered nurses earned on average $71,000 per year. The top ten percent earners made above $101,630 per year. Advancement and higher earnings depend on experience and level of academic degree.
To conclude, as the registered nurse job description shows, registered nurses must exhibit various skills to fulfill the duties of medical provider, educator, supervisor and comforter. Opportunities or employment abound given the increased demand for medical services. Among the drivers are more access to health care, the continued prevalence of traumatic activities from sources such as motor vehicle crashes and an aging population. The growth of senior populations also influences hiring in the nursing facility and home health sectors. To know more about this field of health care, also discover the job description of a certified nursing assistant.
Earning potential for registered nurses will depend on whether employment is in the public or private sector, location, experience and scope of duties.