Job Profile: Registered Nurse
January 29, 2012
Adapted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition
• Registered nurses constitute the largest health care occupation, with 2.4 million jobs.
• About three out of five jobs are in hospitals.
• The three major educational paths to registered nursing are a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree and a diploma from an approved nursing program.
• Registered nurses are projected to create the second largest number of new jobs among all occupations; job opportunities in most specialties and employment settings are expected to be excellent, with some employers reporting difficulty in attracting and retaining enough RNs.
Registered nurses (RNs), regardless of specialty or work setting, perform basic duties that include treating patients, educating patients and the public about various medical conditions, and providing advice and emotional support to patients’ family members. RNs record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, help to perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.
RNs teach patients and their families how to manage their illness or injury, including post-treatment home care needs, diet and exercise programs, and self-administration of medication and physical therapy. Some RNs also are trained to provide grief counseling to family members of critically ill patients. RNs work to promote general health by educating the public on various warning signs and symptoms of disease and where to go for help. RNs also might run general health screening or immunization clinics, blood drives, and public seminars on various conditions.
RNs can specialize in one or more patient care specialties. The most common specialties can be divided into roughly four categories – by work setting or type of treatment; disease, ailment or condition; organ or body system type; or population. RNs may combine specialties from more than one area – for example, pediatric oncology or cardiac emergency – depending on personal interest and employer needs.