Traditionally, nurses are health care workers who provide care within the ordering scope of physicians. This important role shaped the current public image of nurses. In the post-war era, nurse education has undergone tremendous alterations, with changing regulations and roles pushing nurses towards advanced and specialized credentials. Today, nurses work independently in a variety of settings. There are two main types of nurses: licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. What is the registered nurse job description?

Registered Nurse Job Description

Registered nurses (RN) are primary health care professional working in collaboration with physicians to provide patients with care, education, and support. They are responsible for assessing patients’ health problems and needs, educating patients on their illness and condition, developing and implementing patient care plans, helping in rehabilitation, and providing emotional support to patients’ families. They also in charge of coordinating and assigning duties to other health care personnel, such as licensed practical nurses, home care aides, nursing aides, and orderlies. Owing to the important nature of their jobs, they are required to have at least an Associate’s Degree in nursing before they can practice. Their job description depends somewhat on the establishments that employ them.

The typical registered nurse carry out the follow job duties:

  • Record and analyze patient medical histories, symptoms, and conditions
  • Administer medications and treatments
  • Create patient care plans with the help of other healthcare professionals
  • Document and communicate actions to maintain continuity among the nursing team
  • Comply with procedures, regulations, and rules in maintaining medical records
  • Perform diagnostic tests on patients to assess their condition
  • Discuss treatment with physicians and pharmacists
  • Prepare patients for examinations and treatments
  • Teach patients and their families about the treatment

How to become a Registered Nurse

To begin a career in Nursing, you must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma. Most nursing degree programs also require the applicant to submit their SAT or ACT scores. Depending on the establishment, different requirements or rules may apply before applicants are accepted into the school.

There are three levels of education that qualify a person to be a registered nurse: Diploma programs (3 years), Associate Degree in Nursing (2-3 years), and Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing (4 years). Courses covered in all nursing programs include physiology, anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, psychology, liberal arts, and social and behavioral science.

RN Degree TypeDegree LengthInstitution
Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN)4 YearsUniversity
Associate's Degree in Nursing (ASN)2 to 3 YearsCommunity or Junior College
Accredited Diploma Program3 YearsHospital

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An associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) is the most popular program pursued by qualified candidates as they begin their nursing career. It is by far the shortest route taking only 2 years to complete. However, it does come with some disadvantages. Registered nurses holding a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN) tend to have better job opportunities than those with ADN or diploma, as those with ADN are often seen as “technical-level” nurses whereas individuals with BSN are considered as “professional-level” nurses.

After obtaining an ADN, some nurses may want to further their education by choosing to enrol in an RN to BSN degree program. This method of obtaining a BSN is an excellent alternative for those looking to join the workforce right away, while using this income to pay for additional schooling fees. In some cases, employers may even offer tuition assistant programs assisting those who wish to become a BSN. These accelerated programs can be completed in as soon as one year allowing students to earn a BSN more quickly than the traditional route.

Other registered nurses may choose to become advanced-practice nurses and get special training beyond their standard 2-4 years of education. Further education in nursing will lead registered nurses to a Master’s Degree in one of the following designations: clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, and nurse anesthetists.

Read More: Find a Registered Nurse School

Registered Nurse Training

Besides academic courses, registered nursing training includes supervised clinical experience. This training normally takes place in more specialized medical fields such as pediatrics, maternity, psychiatry, home health agencies, public health departments, ambulatory clinics, and surgery.

Different Types of Registered Nurses:

Addiction nurses – manage patients with addiction problems such as drugs and alcohol.

Cardiovascular nurses – manage patients with cardiovascular heart diseases

Critical care nurses – manage patients, with acute and severe life-threatening illnesses, in ICU or intensive care units of a hospital ward.

Genetics nurses – provide genetic healthcare to patients through screening, counselling and treatment.

Neonatology nurses – specialize in management of newborn babies.

Nephrology nurses – manage patients with kidney problems as a result of high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

Rehabilitation nurses – manage patients with disabilities.

Advanced practice registered nurses – can provide primary and specialty care; split into four main categories:

  • Clinical nurse specialists – provides patient care and consultation services in various health care areas.
  • Nurse anesthetists – specialize in administration of anesthesia during surgery, diagnostic, or therapeutical procedures.
  • Certified Nurse-midwives – provide education and training to pregnant women, including family planning advice and prenatal care.
  • Nurse practitioners – provides both primary and specialty care; and are able to prescribe medications.

Registered Nurse Certification

Registered nurses working in a hospital or healthcare institution are required to be licensed before they can practice in any of the 50 states. They must first pass a test called NCLEX-RN, which stands for National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Qualifiers of this exam must graduate from an accredited nursing school and have clinical work exposure. The test requires six hours to complete and is computerized. Once the student passes this exam, the State Board will issue a license enabling them to practice in that state.

Foreign nurses are permitted to work in the US once they pass an English proficiency test and have had their educational credentials evaluated by Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing School before they can challenged the NCLEX-RN exam. For more information on becoming a nurse in US if you are from another country, please visit the following website.

Read More: Registered Nurse Salary

Registered Nurse Job Description Summary

  • Provide patient with care, education and support
  • 2-4 years of education
  • Must be licensed to practice
  • 19% employment growth by 2022