So You Want To Be a Registered Nurse?

With the job growth potential and tuition reimbursement incentives, becoming a Registered Nurse can seem like a good idea. But nursing is more than just caring for patients and working with doctors, so before you decide on this occupation, consider the nature of the work, the work environment, and the required education.

Registered Nurses treat and educate patients about medical conditions. Their duties include recording medical histories and symptoms, conducting diagnostic tests, operating medical machinery, administering treatment, analyzing test results, and helping with follow-up procedures. Nurses teach patients how to manage their illnesses and provide advice and emotional support to them and their families regarding medical decisions. When it comes to patient care, nurses help with treatment plans that may involve that they administer medication and check for interactions, manage intravenous lines for fluid medications or blood, observe and record patient behavior, and consult physicians regarding patients' health.

A nurse's work environment can largely depend on the facility they choose to work in or what area of health they specialize in. Generally nurses work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, health clinics, private practices, and doctor's offices. Some nurses may specialize in home or public health and travel to different patient's homes and community centers. When it comes to work hours, nurses can have set schedules or sporadic ones. For example, nurses who work in hospitals may work nights, weekends, and holidays, since patients require constant care, but nurses working in schools are likely to work during business hours. Regardless of environment, nurses don't spend their time sitting at a desk and instead are quite active, walking to different patients' rooms, standing while taking down their medical histories, or bending over to administer treatments.

One can become a registered nurse in by earning a bachelor's degree or associate degree in nursing, or by graduating from a nursing program. An Associate Degree in Nursing can be completed through a community or junior college and a diploma from a nursing program can be earned through hospitals. While these types of programs are shorter, opportunities for advancement within the field of nursing may be limited for anyone who only completes their education through these types of programs. Colleges and universities offer programs for a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing and typically take four years to complete. These programs typically include more training in areas such as critical thinking and communication, as well as offer students a chance to have more clinical experience. After completing a nursing program and passing the national licensing exam, one will qualify for most entry-level staff nurse positions.