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Registered nurses play a critical role in healthcare. Their training and licensure enable them to meet diverse patient needs and contribute meaningfully on interdisciplinary teams. RNs' competence and versatility make them indispensable providers that enhance outcomes.
What is a Registered Nurse?
Registered nurses (RNs) pursue nursing degrees, typically a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, from accredited colleges or universities. This education prepares them to provide comprehensive, autonomous nursing care across diverse healthcare settings.
In their day-to-day work, RNs deliver patient-centered, holistic care focused on illness prevention, health promotion and education, and truly understanding their patients’ health issues and concerns. They serve as integral members leading the collaborative healthcare team.
Patients encounter RNs in various environments, including hospitals, clinics, schools, homeless shelters, and more. Their training enables them to thoroughly assess patients, create care plans, administer medications, dress wounds, assist with activities of daily living, communicate with interdisciplinary team members, and much more. Specifically, RNs may work collaboratively with providers in settings such as:
The distinctions between RNs and advanced practice nurses relate to additional graduate-level educational, certification, and licensing requirements, though the roles overlap in many aspects of patient care delivery. For example, RNs obtain state licensure and certifications in specialty areas even as advanced practice nurses obtain further credentials.
What Skills Does a Registered Nurse Require?
Excellent communication and interpersonal abilities allow RNs to collaborate smoothly with other healthcare team members like physicians, advanced practice nurses, therapists, and additional providers. Thoughtful explanation and patient education is also vital. A compassionate bedside manner greatly aids the provision of patient-centered care, so those genuinely devoted to caring for others thrive as RNs.
Sharp critical thinking and organizational talents help RNs manage complex patient cases and withstand the rapid pace inherent in this role where patients’ health relies heavily on the RN’s assessment, prioritization, and care coordination skills.
The raw sights, smells and textures that accompany direct patient care require a strong constitution and high threshold for bodily fluids and blood. Dealing with these challenges on a regular basis is not for everyone. RNs also require emotional resilience to handle stressful situations with professionalism and grace.
How Do You Become a Registered Nurse?
To become a registered nurse, you must earn either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited nursing program, usually found at community colleges or universities. These programs combine classroom and supervised clinical learning in subjects such as:
Once completing an accredited RN program, you must apply for authorization to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) through your state’s board of nursing. Passing this standardized exam allows you to receive your nursing license to legally practice as an RN.
There are opportunities to advance your nursing career and compensation through additional certification programs that demonstrate specialized expertise:
Many employers require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic life support training for registered nurses as well. RNs can also pursue graduate degrees to become advanced practice registered nurses.
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