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Knowing the Basics of Registered Nurse Jobs

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In the vast and vibrant healthcare industry, registered nurses comprise the largest occupation with an estimated 2.6 million jobs and growing. Approximately 60 percent of registered nurse jobs are in hospitals with the rest in nursing homes, physician's clinics and home health care services. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurse work prospects are excellent with new jobs generated estimated to be at 581,500 until 2018. Now, contrast that with the dearth of jobs in other sectors and many professionals may be tempted to switch careers.

Responsibilities of the Profession

Registered nurses are the front liners of the healthcare industry in many ways. Thus, all nurses are expected to perform their duties, responsibilities and functions because human lives are at stake. Of course, said responsibilities differ depending on the specialty, work setting and specific job title of the registered nurse.



Despite these differences, however, certain commonalities do exist amongst nurses, of which the following are the most notable:

* Provide treatment and education to patients and the general public about various medical conditions
* Give patients and family members emotional support when and where necessary
* Maintain accurate records on the patients' present symptoms and medical histories
* Assist in the performance of diagnostic tests and in the analysis of the results
* Operate medical and nursing equipment and machinery
* Administer patient medication and treatments based on physician's orders
* Assist in patient follow-up after visits as well as in rehabilitation

The variety of registered nurse work responsibilities can make for a full, busy day at work. Still, many individuals look for registered nurse jobs because of the excellent pay and benefits as well as the flexible working hours.

Pay and Perks

Just like in other professions, the pay and perks for registered nurses vary depending on the geographical location, the area of specialization and the level of seniority, to name a few factors. In May 2008, nonetheless, median yearly salaries for registered nurses were at $62,450 with the highest 10 percent earning upwards of $92,240 and the lowest 10 percent earning less than $43,410. Among the employers, nurses generally earn higher income from employment services at $68,160 and lower income in nursing care facilities at $57,060. (All figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics official website)

With such pay levels, registered nurse jobs are indeed in demand amongst professionals and would-be professionals. And with the recession taking its toll on the employment picture, these jobs are good news for ordinary individuals, economists and government officials alike.

Aside from the basic pay, registered nurses also enjoy flexible work schedules although the hours can be on the graveyard shift, child care services, educational benefits for their continuing education, and many types of bonuses. Also, many registered nurses are members of unions and, hence, enjoy benefits that come with membership.

Education, License and Training

So, what steps are necessary to become a registered nurse and, hence, enjoy all the benefits of being one? There are three educational routes to choose from, thus:

* Secure a 4-year Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree from an accredited school or college
* Complete a 2- to 3-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program provided by community and junior colleges
* Enter a hospital-administered diploma program that usually lasts 3 years

It is very necessary to weigh the pros and cons of these three routes to becoming a registered nurse. Generally speaking, a bachelor's degree is the best path in terms of education, clinical experience and prospects in registered nurse jobs. In fact, many administrative positions, research jobs, consultation projects and teaching positions are only available to registered nurses with a bachelor's degree.

Now, if you already have a degree in another field, it is possible to become a registered nurse by entering nursing school. With your college credits, you may also accelerate in the program and, hence, spend less than 4 years getting your nursing degree.

No matter the educational path taken, however, registered nurse work openings are available only with the successful passing of the national licensing examination. Even a license may not be sufficient for many advanced nursing specializations like clinical nurse specialists, nurse-midwives and nurse anesthetists since a master's degree is required.

The path towards becoming a registered nurse can be difficult considering the rigorous classroom education coupled with the stressful training in a clinical setting. The rewards, however, in the form of perks and pay as well as in personal and professional advancement are well worth the sacrifices.
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