Registered Nurse Job Description And Career Guide

What Do Registered Nurses Do?

​Registered nurses give medical care to injured or ill patients. They provide case management and advise patients on how to manage their health. They also assess the physical and mental health issues of the patient and develop a care plan and intervention to begin treating the patient.

Registered nurses also update and maintain patient records so they are always updated for other medical staff. They also take direct instruction from the doctor on how to treat the patient and what type of treatment to give.

A registered nurse (RN) is one who has completed coursework to achieve either an Associate Degree In Nursing (ADN), Bachelor’s Of Science In  Nursing (BSN), or Master Of Science In Nursing (MSN). They also have their license from their state board of nursing.

These nurses are different from licensed practical nurses (LPNs). They are a level below a registered nurse. However, some registered nurses start out as LPNs and later become RNs. LPNs usually have earned a degree higher than an ADN.

The more educated a nurse is the better it will be for his or her career. Nurses can go back to go school to earn an MSN or Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP). Nurses with these degrees will have skills that are much further beyond those of a regular registered nurse. They also make more money and have many more career options.

Nurses with advanced degrees are usually either nurse practitioners (NP) or advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). There are many specialties in healthcare for these nurses. Some specialties will have specific graduate programs as well.

Registered Nurse Responsibilities

Nursing responsibilities are quite broad because their are so many career paths nurses not only within the medical field but within other industries as well. Their can be a lot of disparity be nurses in terms of education, primary work responsibilities, clinical training, skills learned, years of work experience, etc.

RNs can have many different responsibilities depending on where they work, or the condition of their patient, or whatever treatment the doctor deems appropriate. The responsibilities for nurses can change quite quickly because the circumstances surrounding their work can change quickly.

There can be other reasons for changing responsibities such as the nursing speciality. An anesthetist is going to have different responsibilities than a nurse practitioner. Nurses are usually responsible for providing medical and emotional care to the patient.

They use the nursing process to provide the best care possible to the patient. This consists of assessing the patient, delivering a nursing diagnoses, creating a care plan, providing patient care through interventions and care plans, and monitoring and evaluating the results.

Nurses examen the recovery of the patient to see if any further adjustments need to be made to enhance the recovery of the patient.  This is usually a pretty standard process for most nursing specialties in medical and healthcare facilities.

Where Do Registered Nurses Work?

Registered nurses can work in a types of medical facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes. However, registered nurses can be valuable in many other industries that can involve health.

Insurance companies can use registered nurses to help investigate insurance claims. Pharmaceutical companies can use registered nurses to help decipher medical information.

Police can use nurses to help collect and investigate health information that is important to the case. The military use nurses to take care of wounded soldiers.

Other places where registered nurses work can include:

– Research Centers And Laboratories
– The military and armed forces
– School Districts, Private Grade Schools, and Colleges
– Recreation And Community Center
– Rehabilitation Centers and Correctional Facilities
– Senior Homes
– Clinics
– Medical, Outpatient, And Healthcare Facilities
– Mental Homes And Psychiatric Care Facilities
– Private Law Firms
– Insurance Companies
– You can find more places where registered nurses work in this article.

Hours And Schedules Of Registered Nurses

The schedules of registered nurses slightly vary for a couple reasons. Most medical facilities (like hospitals) are open 24/7. This is because a patient could need medical care at any time whether it is 3pm or 3am. Therefore there always need to be nurses available and working so that these patients can be attended to at all hours of day and night.

This is why many hospitals break nursing schedules up into night and day shifts. These shifts usually last 12 hours. A night shift is usually 7pm to 7am. While a day shift is usually 7am to 7pm. Three shifts a week (36 hours per week) constitutes for a full time schedule for registered nurses. Less than this amount of hours is considered part time work.

Some medical facilities schedule their hours differently. Some do 4 (10 hour) shifts a weeks.  While others do 5 (8 hour) shifts a week. The shift rotations can be even shorter for part time nurses.

Keep in mind, this schedule can differ slightly depending on the employer, the patient load , and the demand for nurses. Those hours do not include overtime either. This can heavily impact the hours a medical facility distributes to its nurses.

If the medical facility is experiencing a large patient load or shortage of nurses on a particular night, then some nurses might asked to work an extra shift during the week. Of course, these nurses will be paid time and half since most of them are paid hourly.

Nurses can stand to make a lot more money if they overtime, nights, and weekends. Many medical facilities give nurses an increased wage as an incentive for nurses to want to work more  if the shifts are available. The wage differential for nurses on nights and weekends n depends on the employer. Overtime is usually time and a half.

Things like this can really affect the amount of hours a RN works. There are some medical facilities where nurses constantly work over time and some places where most nurses just work the standard amount of hours.

At the same, more experienced and educated nurses have may more career options. They may not be working in a hospital. These nurses might be working a private practices, doctor’s offices, private businesses, grade schools, universities, etc. Nurses are only expected to work during operating hours (usually business hours).

Obviously those places are full of patients that need around the clock care. Therefore there is no need for these places employ nurses at any other time of the day then just business hours. Night shifts do not make sense when there are no patients to take care of during the night. You can learn more about nurse schedules in this article.

Registered Nurse Career Paths

Nursing has become one of the most in demand professions over the past 15 years. There a great need in the labor market for highly educated registered nurses. That is only going to continue to grow in the future as the baby boomer generation continues to age.

Baby boomers currently make up around 25% of our population and 20% of the workforce. That is roughly 75 million people are at or going to be reaching retirement age soon. People start to have health issues around that age.

That means we could have millions of people checking into the hospitals, nursing homes, other medical facilities over the next ten years. If there are not enough nurses to handle the patient load now, what will happen then?

This is one of the prime reasons more schools have made an attempt to input nursing programs. Some states are giving grants to students in the medical field. Other developed countries are going through the same issue and the world is making an effort to inform people about the nursing labor shortage.

However, as a nurse this might be the perfect time to profit off that nursing labor shortage. This has created a high demand for nurse. Labor demand and lack of supply increases the wage of the laborers dramatically. Nurses are getting paid more than they ever have before because of the labor shortage.

Nursing not only offers great pay but also a lot career choices. There are many specialties to pursue among achieving your education.

These specialties include:

– Emergency Room
– Intensive Care
– Pediatrics
– Neonatal
– Forensics
– Ambulance Care
Flight Nursing
 Travel Nursing
– Cardiac and much more

As you can see, their are many options in the nursing field for a fulfilling job, lucrative pay, and career advancement. However, at the beginning of your career it would be wise to gain experience anywhere you can at first. This is because you not the desirable or high paying jobs you want right out of school.

You will lose out to nurses who more experience and greater education than you. Therefore, you need more experience and education to compete with other nurses in the labor market.

For most nursing rookies, this will be in the intensive care unit (ICU) or the emergency (ER) room. There you will learn essential nursing skills the quickest. Those are skills that will be heavily respected amongst potential employers and graduate schools.

Many nurses work the ICU or ER for 2 or 3 years and then go back to school to get an MSN. Upon completing their graduate coursework, they will be in a position to obtain an advanced and high paying job in the nursing field.


This is all the general information you need to know about nursing. Most questions should be answered in the information above. Another thing we suggest is seeing if nursing is a good career match for you.

This is very important. Like most lucrative career choices, you will need to invest to a lot time into building your skills and a career path. If you do not enjoy what you do, things will be a lot tougher or you might quit altogether and have wasted a lot time or money.

People who become registered nurses love talking to and take care of people. They love healthcare and nursing patients back to full physical capacity. Remember, a nurse’s job is treat patients and them recover for their illness or injury. They provide emotional, educational, as well as physical support to the patient.

Like any other job, there will be some mundane tasks. These include updating patient records, cleaning, and preparing medical technology. You will have people that you answer to and take orders from. But you will still have plenty of autonomy on the  job.

We already know nursing is a promising career path with a lot of different specialties and options for your future. Plenty of opportunity to work in the field you interested in gaining enough experience and earning the right education. It is high demand and probably will be for at least the next 10 years.

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That is purely a product of supply and demand. Nurses who are well educated should have many issues finding a job. Getting the job you might take a longer. Gain worthwhile experience on the job and enhance your education. That is the quickest way of getting the job you want.

Just make sure this career path is right for you and everything else will come together. Get the work experience and the education and things will always work out for the better.