Registered Nursing Occupational Outlook
What Registered Nurses Do
Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families.
Registered nurses typically do the following:
- Assess patients’ conditions
- Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
- Observe patients and record the observations
- Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
- Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute information to existing plans
- Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals
- Operate and monitor medical equipment
- Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
- Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
- Explain what to do at home after treatment
Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. For example, an oncology nurse works with cancer patients and a geriatric nurse works with elderly patients. Some registered nurses combine one or more areas of practice. For example, a pediatric oncology nurse works with children and teens who have cancer.
Many possibilities exist for working with specific patient groups. The following list includes some examples:
Addiction nurses care for patients who need help to overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs, and other substances.
Cardiovascular nurses care for patients who have heart disease or heart conditions and people who have had heart surgery.
Critical care nurses work in intensive-care units in hospitals, providing care to patients with serious, complex, and acute illnesses and injuries that need close monitoring and treatment.
Genetics nurses provide screening, counseling, and treatment for patients with genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.
Neonatal nurses take care of newborn babies who have health issues.
Nephrology nurses care for patients who have kidney-related health issues stemming from diabetes, high blood pressure, substance abuse, or other causes.
Public health nurses promote public health by educating people on warning signs and symptoms of disease or managing chronic health conditions. They may also run health screenings, immunization clinics, blood drives, or other community outreach programs.
Rehabilitation nurses care for patients who have temporary or permanent disabilities or have chronic illnesses.
Some nurses do not work directly with patients, but they must still have an active registered nurse license. For example, they may work as nurse educators, healthcare consultants, or hospital administrators.
Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). They provide direct patient care in one of many nursing specialties, such as psychiatric-mental health or pediatrics. CNSs also provide indirect care by working with other nurses and medical staff to improve the quality of care that patients receive. They often serve in leadership roles and may educate and advise other nursing staff. CNSs also may conduct research and may advocate for certain policies.
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