Registered nurses must be able to effectively communicate with patients to understand their concerns and assess their health conditions.
Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must be licensed.
Nursing education programs usually include courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology psychology, and social and behavioral sciences. Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree programs, like programs in some other healthcare and related fields, typically take 4 years to complete; associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) and associate of science in nursing (ASN) degrees also typically take 4 years to complete. Diploma programs, usually offered by hospitals or medical centers, typically take 2 to 3 years to complete. There are far fewer diploma programs than there are BSN, ADN, and ASN programs. All programs include supervised clinical experience.
In addition to science courses, bachelor’s degree programs usually include education in communication, leadership, and critical thinking. A bachelor’s or higher degree is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.
Generally, licensed graduates of any of the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate’s, or diploma) qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. However, employers—particularly those in hospitals—may require a bachelor’s degree.
Registered nurses with an ADN, ASN, or diploma may go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program. There are also master’s degree programs in nursing, combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, and accelerated programs for those who wish to enter the field of nursing and already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement.
Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) must earn a master’s degree in nursing and typically already have 1 year or more of work experience as an RN or in a related field. CNSs who conduct research typically need a doctoral degree.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Registered nurses must have a nursing license issued by the state in which they work. To become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
Other requirements for licensing, such as passing a criminal background check, vary by state. Each state’s board of nursing provides specific requirements. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
Nurses may become certified through professional associations in specific areas, such as ambulatory care, gerontology, or pediatrics. Although certification is usually voluntary, it demonstrates adherence to a specific level of competency, and some employers require it.
In addition, registered nursing positions may require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS), or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification.
CNSs must satisfy additional state licensing requirements, such as earning specialty certifications. Contact state boards of nursing for specific requirements.
Critical-thinking skills. Registered nurses must assess changes in the health status of patients, such as determining when to take corrective action.
Communication skills. Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and evaluate their health conditions. Nurses need to clearly explain instructions, such as how to take medication. They must work in teams with other health professionals and communicate patients’ needs.
Compassion. Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when working with patients.
Detail oriented. Registered nurses must be precise because they must ensure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.
Emotional stability. Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stressors.
Organizational skills. Nurses often work with multiple patients who have a variety of health needs. The ability to coordinate numerous treatment plans and records is critical to ensure that each patient receives appropriate care.
Physical stamina. Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.
Most registered nurses begin as staff nurses in hospitals or community health settings. With experience, good performance, and continuing education, they can move to other settings or be promoted to positions with more responsibility.
In management, nurses may advance from assistant clinical nurse manager, charge nurse, or head nurse to more senior-level administrative roles, such as assistant director or director of nursing, vice president of nursing, or chief nursing officer. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions require a graduate degree in nursing or health services administration. Administrative positions require leadership skills, communication ability, negotiation skills, and good judgment.
Some nurses move into the business side of healthcare. Their nursing expertise and experience on a healthcare team equip them to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based, and chronic care businesses. Employers—including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and managed care organizations—need registered nurses for jobs in health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development, and quality assurance.
Some RNs may become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners, which, along with clinical nurse specialists, are types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs need a master’s degree but many have a doctoral degree. APRNs may provide primary and specialty care, and in many states they may prescribe medications.
Other nurses work as postsecondary teachers or researchers in colleges and universities, which typically requires a Ph.D.
Registered nurses work in many settings, from schools to doctors’ offices.
Registered nurses held about 3.1 million jobs in 2021. The largest employers of registered nurses were as follows:
Hospitals; state, local, and private
Ambulatory healthcare services
Nursing and residential care facilities
Educational services; state, local, and private
Ambulatory healthcare services includes industries such as physicians’ offices, home healthcare, and outpatient care centers. Nurses who work in home health travel to patients’ homes; public health nurses may travel to community centers, schools, and other sites.
Some nurses travel frequently in the United States and throughout the world to help care for patients in places where there are not enough healthcare workers.
Injuries and Illnesses
Registered nurses may spend a lot of time walking, bending, stretching, and standing. They are vulnerable to back injuries because they often must lift and move patients.
The work of registered nurses may put them in close contact with people who have infectious diseases, and they frequently come into contact with potentially harmful and hazardous drugs and other substances. Therefore, registered nurses must follow strict guidelines to guard against diseases and other dangers, such as accidental needle sticks and exposure to radiation or to chemicals used in creating a sterile environment.
Nurses who work in hospitals and nursing care facilities usually work in shifts to provide round-the-clock coverage. They may work nights, weekends, and holidays. They may be on call, which means that they are on duty and must be available to work on short notice.
Nurses who work in offices, schools, and other places that do not provide 24-hour care are more likely to work regular business hours.
In April 2023, Sumner College will enroll its first RN classes with a BSN degree. Learn more by contacting admissions at 503-972-6230.
The field of nursing is an occupation that has exploded in recent years and is poised for continued impressive growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment as registered nurses is forecasted to rise by 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the overall average for all jobs. Equally important, nursing is an occupation that pays comparatively well in the United States.
Sumner College shares The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics publishes information on a Registered Nursing Career path.
Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must be licensed.
Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 203,200 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Learn more about becoming a nurse, nursing salaries, and the future of nursing.
Nurses are considered some of the most trusted professionals in the United States. Along with being knowledgeable in physiology, pharmacology, and many other areas of study, they have to exercise care and compassion to patients and their family members as well as work with physicians. Nursing is the perfect role for students that want to make a difference in the lives of others. While becoming a nurse takes hard work and dedication, there are education plans to fit every student’s timeline and career goals. Becoming a nurse is a multi-step process. First, you must complete courses within an accredited program. Once you have your degree, you will be required to pass a nursing exam in order to receive your license.
Your license will enable you to practice nursing. If you want to practice a certain specialty, you may be required to take more courses or earn specific certifications. Finally, it may be necessary to take continuing nursing education courses in order to stay current on best practices.
What Do Nurses Do?
Nurses help patients along their health care journey. Oftentimes, they are the first and last faces a patient sees, whether at their annual exam or during an extended hospital stay.
Nurses have a variety of roles. Some do intake work on patients. Others make acute treatment decisions. Some serve in a school setting or administer inoculations, like many did during the COVID-19 pandemic. Day-to-day responsibilities include performing medical exams, administering medications, checking vital signs, changing bandages and dressings, and ensuring that patients are comfortable.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse?
Depending on what type of nurse you plan to become, programs range in commitment time from four weeks to a maximum of four years. Nursing requires that students spend a certain amount of time in the classroom and then a specified amount of time in the field before receiving their certificate, degree, and/or license.
The amount of time it takes to become a nurse depends on your career goals. If you want to specialize in a specific area, you may need a master’s degree, which will take more time. However, if you are interested in serving as a nursing assistant, you can complete your program and get your license within a year in most states.
3 Steps to Becoming a Nurse
Becoming a nurse requires going to school, but there are a few steps involved to making it your official profession. Using the three steps below, you’ll be able to successfully pursue your goal of becoming a nurse:
Choose a Type of Nursing
First you need to choose which type of nurse you will become. There are a variety of fields and roles in which you can serve, which are highlighted below. Your choice will be determined by which field you wish to pursue, your financial situation (or how much schooling you’re able to pay for), and other factors. Once you’ve made a choice as to which type of nurse you plan to be, it’s time for the next step.
Earn a Degree in Nursing
Degrees in nursing range from certifications to bachelor’s degrees to even doctorates. Certifications can take four – 12 weeks to complete, whereas bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees can take years. In the last few years, coursework for nursing students has moved to a more hybrid approach. While some programs may be full-time, in-person, others offer both online learning and in-person classes. However, all certifications and degrees will require in-person clinical work in order to graduate as well as gain a license.
Get a Nursing License
After graduating, and before starting in a professional role, all nurses must complete some type of license. This involves taking an exam. • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Registered Nurses (RN) – Must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). You cannot become a nurse without passing this exam. • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) – Must take and pass a CNA certification exam. This license expires after two years.
What are the Different Types of Nurses?
There are a variety of nursing roles available in the health care industry. The one you choose depends on your overall career goals, time you have to dedicate to school, and financial resources to pay for your education.
CNA – Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) – Offered at Sumner College Arizona
A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is the degree option that offers the quickest path to becoming a nurse. The program can take anywhere from four – 12 months to complete. Graduates must pass a certification exam in order to receive a license. CNAs serve in hospitals, nursing homes, and provide in-home care. They help patients with a range of needs like eating, bathing, grooming, mobility, and more.
LPN – Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – offered at sumner college Oregon
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) requires one year of coursework. Graduates also have to pass the NCLEX-RN and earn a state license in order to practice. LPNs cover a range of responsibilities, from hands-on patient tasks to administrative duties. They monitor patient care by taking vitals, inserting catheters, changing bandages, and more.
ADN – Associate Degree in Nursing (AND) – Offered at sumner college oregon
An associate degree in Nursing takes two to three years to complete. You must pass the NCLEX-RN to earn your license. An ADN can discuss symptoms with a patient, provide medication, edit and monitor a patient’s records, and report the medical status of a patient to a doctor.
BSN – Bachelor of Science in Nursing – offered at sumner college oregon (starting april 2023)
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing can take four years to complete. Just like nurses with an associate degree, you must pass the NCLEX-RN to receive your license. Your job responsibilities will be similar to that of an RN with an associate degree. However, a Bachelor degree will put you on track to serve in administrative roles in areas such as research, consulting, and education.
APRN – Master of Nursing in Science (MNS) – not currently offered at sumner college
A Master of Science in Nursing requires two to three years of study and clinical work in addition to a Bachelor degree. You must also pass a certification exam in your area of study. A master’s in Nursing will enable you to specialize in a certain area and provide you with more responsibility and opportunities for advancement. Graduates with a master’s can go on to become Nurse Practitioners, educators, Nurse Anesthetists, midwives, managers, clinical specialists, researchers, and consultants.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) – not currently offered at sumner college
The highest level of education that a nurse can receive is a Doctor of Nursing Practice. This requires an additional three to four years of study and includes a capstone DNP project. After graduating, you can take on a leadership role in the nursing field or work in a clinical setting. Nurses with a doctorate degree have the knowledge and power to drive policy change and best practices in the health care industry.
Nursing Salaries and Nursing Career Outlook
In 2019, registered nurses made up 30% of total hospital employees, the largest percentage of any role in the health care industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2020 and 2021, we saw just how vital nurses are to our health collectively, especially during national and worldwide health crises.
Overview of Career Growth Potentials and Salaries
In 2021, the BLS reported that the median hourly pay for nurses was $37.31 per hour and $77,600 annually. In 2020, there were over 3 million nurses working in the country with a projected growth rate of 9% by 2030. BLS.gov states that, “Demand for healthcare services will increase because of the large number of older people, who typically have more medical problems than younger people. Nurses also will be needed to educate and care for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.”
Jobs for Nursing Majors
There are openings right now in the nursing field. Available nursing jobs range in roles from travel nurses to home health care nurses to specialties, like PACU. Because the health care industry is so large, and continues to grow in order to meet demand, there are always nursing jobs available. Jobs are open in urgent care centers, military bases, schools, and even on cruise ships. See available nursing jobs now on Monster.
Scholarships for Nursing Majors
Fastweb hosts a number of scholarships for nursing students in our database. Scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for your nursing education. They are free money that you earn or are awarded and never have to be paid back. Finding nursing scholarships on Fastweb is simple. All you have to do is fill out a free profile and indicate that you are interested in nursing as a field or study and career. We will find scholarships for nursing that you qualify for from our database.
In addition to scholarships and grants, you should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for each academic year that you plan to be enrolled. Filing the FAFSA is the only way to qualify for financial aid, so if you hope to use financial aid funds to pay for college, you need to complete this form as soon as possible after October 1. Some nursing students use part-time jobs and internships to help cover college costs. They either use the money that they earn or strategically seek out a job with an employer that offers tuition assistance. Finally, some nursing students need to take out student loans to pay for their education. These loans help to bridge the gap between what a student can afford to pay and how much their nursing education costs. For help in figuring out how to pay for your nursing degree, we’ve gathered the best financial aid and loan calculators. Utilizing the above college tuition funding sources and doing your due diligence in calculating costs will enable you to be better prepared to pay for your nursing degree.
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21st Century nursing is the glue that holds a patient’s health care journey together. Across the entire patient experience, and wherever there is someone in need of care, nurses work tirelessly to identify and protect the needs of the individual.
Beyond the time-honored reputation for compassion and dedication lies a highly specialized profession, which is constantly evolving to address the needs of society. From ensuring the most accurate diagnoses to the ongoing education of the public about critical health issues; nurses are indispensable in safeguarding public health.
Nursing can be described as both an art and a science; a heart and a mind. At its heart, lies a fundamental respect for human dignity and an intuition for a patient’s needs. This is supported by the mind, in the form of rigorous core learning. Due to the vast range of specialisms and complex skills in the nursing profession, each nurse will have specific strengths, passions, and expertise.
However, nursing has a unifying ethos: In assessing a patient, nurses do not just consider test results. Through the critical thinking exemplified in the nursing process (see below), nurses use their judgment to integrate objective data with subjective experience of a patient’s biological, physical and behavioral needs. This ensures that every patient, from city hospital to community health center; state prison to summer camp, receives the best possible care regardless of who they are, or where they may be.
What exactly do nurses do?
In a field as varied as nursing, there is no typical answer. Responsibilities can range from making acute treatment decisions to providing inoculations in schools. The key unifying characteristic in every role is the skill and drive that it takes to be a nurse. Through long-term monitoring of patients’ behavior and knowledge-based expertise, nurses are best placed to take an all-encompassing view of a patient’s wellbeing.
What types of nurses are there?
All nurses complete a rigorous program of extensive education and study, and work directly with patients, families, and communities using the core values of the nursing process. In the United States today, nursing roles can be divided into three categories by the specific responsibilities they undertake.
Registered nurses (RN) form the backbone of health care provision in the United States. RNs provide critical health care to the public wherever it is needed.
Perform physical exams and health histories before making critical decisions
Provide health promotion, counseling and education
Administer medications and other personalized interventions
Coordinate care, in collaboration with a wide array of health care professionals
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) hold at least a Master’s degree, in addition to the initial nursing education and licensing required for all RNs. The responsibilities of an APRN include, but are not limited to, providing invaluable primary and preventative health care to the public. APRNs treat and diagnose illnesses, advise the public on health issues, manage chronic disease and engage in continuous education to remain at the very forefront of any technological, methodological, or other developments in the field.
APRNs Practice Specialist Roles
Nurse Practitioners prescribe medication, diagnose and treat minor illnesses and injuries
Certified Nurse-Midwives provide gynecological and low-risk obstetrical care
Clinical Nurse Specialists handle a wide range of physical and mental health problems
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists administer more than 65 percent of all anesthetics
Licensed Practical Nurses
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), support the core health care team and work under the supervision of an RN, APRN or MD. By providing basic and routine care, they ensure the wellbeing of patients throughout the whole of the health care journey
Check vital signs and look for signs that health is deteriorating or improving
Perform basic nursing functions such as changing bandages and wound dressings
Ensure patients are comfortable, well-fed and hydrated
May administer medications in some settings
What is the nursing process?
No matter what their field or specialty, all nurses utilize the same nursing process; a scientific method designed to deliver the very best in patient care, through five simple steps.
Assessment – Nurses assess patients on an in-depth physiological, economic, social and lifestyle basis.
Diagnosis – Through careful consideration of both physical symptoms and patient behavior, the nurse forms a diagnosis.
Outcomes / Planning – The nurse uses their expertise to set realistic goals for the patient’s recovery. These objectives are then closely monitored.
Implementation – By accurately implementing the care plan, nurses guarantee consistency of care for the patient whilst meticulously documenting their progress.
Evaluation – By closely analyzing the effectiveness of the care plan and studying patient response, the nurse hones the plan to achieve the very best patient outcomes.
Nurses are Key to the Health of the Nation
There are over 4 million registered nurses in the United States today.
That means that one in every 100 people is a registered nurse.
Nurses are in every community – large and small – providing expert care from birth to the end of life.
According to the January 2012 “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast” in the American Journal of Medical Quality, a shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country between 2009 and 2030. In this state-by-state analysis, the authors forecast the RN shortage to be most intense in the South and the West
Nurses’ roles range from direct patient care and case management to establishing nursing practice standards, developing quality assurance procedures, and directing complex nursing care systems.
ANA has been helping American nurses improve our nation’s health since 1896.