Registered nurses (RNs) work to treat patients, promote health, prevent illness, and help individuals cope with injury or disease. As an RN you could develop care plans, administer medication, maintain intravenous (IV) lines, draw blood, collaborate with physicians, and observe patients. Those who are not consistently involved in direct patient care can serve as educators to the community or colleagues.
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How to Prepare for a Career as an RN
There are typically three paths to a career as an RN:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a four-year program offered by colleges and universities
- Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN), a two- or three-year program offered by junior or community colleges.
- Diploma Program, a less common program usually offered by a hospital
All RN programs contain both classroom instruction and clinical field work. RN coursework can include:
Although each state's nursing board differs, all students who complete an RN degree program are required to become licensed before practicing by taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
With a master's degree, and RN can work as a clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, or nurse administrator.
RN Salaries and Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for an RN in 2008 was $66,530, with those in the highest 10 percent of earnings earning $93,700 per year. Employment opportunities for RNs are projected to be excellent moving toward 2018, with the most growth in physician offices and home health care settings.\