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A registered nurse (RN) is a nurse who has completed an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and has then taken a test that is required to earn RN credentials. In other words, you can earn an ADN or BSN degree to become licensed as an RN.
What Is a Registered Nurse (RN)?
Typically found in hospitals, medical offices, and clinics, a registered nurse assists doctors and other nurses in providing critical care to patients.
As one of the most versatile roles in the nursing industry, registered nurses (RNs) are in high demand. Working as an RN can be incredibly rewarding and impactful, as well as a great stepping stone if you decide you want to advance your career.
Steps To Become a Registered Nurse
The path to becoming a registered nurse takes a little time, but the journey is a rewarding one. It’s a bit like getting a driver’s license in that you study and practice, take the test, and apply to get your license.
How long does it take to become an RN?
The time it takes to earn a nursing degree depends on the program you choose.
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The minimum degree needed to be an RN is an ADN, which typically takes two years to complete. A BSN, on the other hand, takes about four years to complete but provides a more comprehensive nursing education. Nurses with BSNs therefore tend to be more qualified for higher level positions, which can yield a higher salary. However, an ADN can get you into the workforce sooner and generally costs less because it is a shorter program.
If you already have some nursing education as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a paramedic, there are LPN-to-RN and paramedic-to-RN bridge programs if you want to transition to being an RN. These programs allow you to earn either an ADN or BSN in less time because of your prior education.
If you already hold an ADN and want to pursue a BSN, you may be able to do so in a shorter time than it would take to earn a typical bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program.
What Types of Jobs are Available for RNs?
There are many roles registered nurses can fill, from pediatric nurses who see children for routine wellness exams to operating room nurses who help prep patients for surgery and assist the operating team during procedures.
There are ways for working paramedics to become RNs, too.
Where Can RNs Work?
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Most RNs work in hospitals, medical offices, nursing homes, home healthcare services, and outpatient clinics. But you can also find them in a number of other locations as well, such as schools, churches, government offices, community centers, day spas, and more.
How Much Money Do RNs Make?
The salary of an RN can vary greatly depending on their specialty, level of education and experience, additional certification, and workplace location.
Salaries are also dependent on where in the U.S. you live. Top-paying locations include California, Hawaii, Washington D.C., Alaska, and Oregon.
A day in the life of an RN
As just about any health-care professional will tell you, no two days on the job are ever exactly the same in the life of a nurse. And with so many different types of nursing jobs out there, it can be difficult to describe what a typical day looks like for any nurse.
That being said, there are some common routines for many nursing jobs that can give us an idea of what it’s like to walk in a nurse’s shoes for a day.
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For example, nurses typically begin their shifts by conferring with the nurses on shift before them about patient updates, new admittances, and any other crucial information. Then they may review physician notes and lab results to prepare them for who they will see that day.
Then it’s time to make the rounds. Nurses will visit their patients and assess their progress, administer any medication they may need and provide them with any other treatment that has been assigned to them. They may provide updates to patients about lab results or other emerging information regarding their health.
Eventually nurses need a break, and then it’s back to patient care. If any emergency situations present themselves, those must be addressed right away.
At the end of their shift, nurses will relay any updates to the nurses next on shift and make sure their notes are updated as well.
Pros and cons of being an RN
Nursing has the potential to be both a rewarding and demanding career. All jobs have their ups and downs, but these are just a few to consider if you are thinking about becoming an RN:
Resources for current and prospective RNs
There is an abundance of resources for nurses that can help you find education programs, determine how to get licensed in your state, provide you with information on career advancement and much more.