Job Profile: Registered Nurse
January 29, 2012
All four advanced practice nursing specialties require at least a master’s degree. Most programs last about two years and require a BSN degree and some programs require at least one to two years of clinical experience as an RN for admission. In 2004, there were 329 master’s and post-master’s programs offered for nurse practitioners, 218 master’s and post-master’s programs for clinical nurse specialists, 92 programs for nurse anesthetists and 45 programs for nurse midwives. Upon completion of a program, most advanced practice nurses become nationally certified in their area of specialty. In some states, certification in a specialty is required in order to practice that specialty.
All nursing education programs include classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Students take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology and other behavioral sciences, and nursing. Coursework also includes the liberal arts for ADN and BSN students.
Supervised clinical experience is provided in hospital departments such as pediatrics, psychiatry, maternity and surgery. A growing number of programs include clinical experience in nursing care facilities, public health departments, home health agencies and ambulatory clinics.
Nurses should be caring, sympathetic, responsible and detail-oriented. They must be able to direct or supervise others, correctly assess patients’ conditions and determine when consultation is required. They need emotional stability to cope with human suffering, emergencies and other stresses.
Some RNs start their careers as licensed practical nurses or nursing aides, and then go back to school to receive their RN degree. Most RNs begin as staff nurses, and with experience and good performance often are promoted to more responsible positions. In management, nurses can advance to assistant head nurse or head nurse and, from there, to assistant director, director and vice president. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions require a graduate or an advanced degree in nursing or health services administration. They also require leadership, negotiation skills and good judgment.
Some nurses move into the business side of health care. Their nursing expertise and experience on a healthcare team equip them to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based and chronic care. Employers – including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and managed care organizations, among others – need RNs for health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development and quality assurance. Other nurses work as college and university faculty or conduct research.
Foreign-educated nurses wishing to work in the United States must obtain a work visa. Applicants are required to undergo a review of their education and licensing credentials and pass a nursing certification and English proficiency exam, both conducted by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools. (The commission is an immigration-neutral, nonprofit organization that is recognized internationally as an authority on credentials evaluation in the healthcare field.) Applicants from Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are exempt from the language proficiency exam. In addition to these national requirements, most states have their own requirements.