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Job Description for a RN in the Outpatient Department

Registered nurses, or RNs, comprise the single largest profession in the medical field. At present, the job holds some 2.6 million jobs. 60% of those jobs occur in hospitals, but many of them also occur in outpatient settings like therapeutic settings, home care, and the like.

Requirements for These Types of Nursing Jobs

To become a registered nurse, you'll need a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree, and then a diploma from an approved nursing program. To further your career, if you want to become a nurse in advanced practice like a midwife, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist, you'll need a master's degree in your specialty besides.

What do These Types of Nursing Jobs Entail?

Regardless of specialization, registered nurses treat patients and their families, as well as public in general, about various medical conditions and also provide advice and emotional support to patients and families. They must be detailed and organized, such that they must help patients directly in addition to performing other duties such as recording medical histories and symptoms, performing diagnostic tests and analyzing results; they must administer medications and treatments, sometimes operate medical machinery, and help patients with rehabilitation and follow-up care.

One of the most important parts of an RN's job is to teach patients how to manage their illnesses or injuries. Therefore, many RNs often do outpatient care work, such as helping patients with post treatment at home, doing diet, nutrition, exercise, etc., in-home care in outpatient settings, and teaching patients how to do their own physical therapy or to self administer medication. Other types of outpatient care RNs may do include general health screenings and immunization checks, blood drives, and teaching seminars for various conditions to the public at large, such as with the recent swine flu outbreak.

RNs work very closely with other people in medical teams, like doctors, to establish care plans for particular patients. They must be very versed in drug interactions as well, because they must counsel patients on what to avoid with drug interactions, and carefully check dosages. RNs are often in a supervisory capacity over licensed practical nurses and nursing aides, but when they work in outpatient settings, they are much more likely to work autonomously instead of in teams.

Regardless of a desire to work in outpatient care as a registered nurse, all registered nurses, at least to begin with, work in clinical settings like hospitals, at least to some extent, to gain experience and necessary hands-on experience in controlled settings. As registered nurses move through their careers, they may opt to specialize and thus work in more informal settings, like those with outpatient care.

Salary for These Nurse Jobs

Registered nurses make significantly more than licensed practical nurses or nursing aides, and further move up the salary scale if they specialize, such as if they become a nurse midwife, a nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, or nurse practitioner, since these areas of specialty require additional education (usually at least a masters degree), and because these types of nursing jobs take over many of the duties a doctor would normally do.

Job prospects look very good for these types of nursing jobs, with nurses in high demand, especially for areas of specialization such as those mentioned above. The average salary for all registered nurses across all fields and in all areas of specialization was about $63,000 as of 2008.
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