Registered Nurses make up the largest healthcare occupation, and the demand for RNs is expected to grow. While 60% of nurses work in hospitals, Registered Nurses can work anywhere: in people’s homes helping the elderly, in care facilities, hospitals and doctors’ offices, even as traveling nurses. It is one of the most versatile professions. RNs treat, educate and advise patients, take medical histories and symptoms, perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, administer medications, work closely with medical assistants and CNAs, and help with patient follow-up. Much of the job depends on communicating effectively with patients. RNs have to explain post-treatment home care, diet, nutrition and exercise, and self-administered medication. They also run health screenings, immunization clinics, blood drives, and inform the public about diseases. RNs pretty much do everything, which is why training requirements are so strict and salaries so generous.
So how much do they pay a person to do a little of everything? The median annual income of registered nurses in 2008 was $62,450, with some making more than $92,240. Employers offer incentives to attract and retain nurses since there is such a demand, including flexible work schedules, child care, and educational benefits. Many online vocational programs offer Registered Nurse to Nurse Practitioner degrees, which combine the BA program with the advanced MA program and improves marketability and increases earning potential.
To become an RN, you must have a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, or an associate degree in nursing and a diploma. BSN programs take 4 years to complete, and AA programs are 2-3 years. However, BSN degrees are usually required for advancement. Registered Nurses usually start out as staff nurses in hospitals, but there are many opportunities to specialize even further. Registered Nurses can go on to become clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, and nurse anesthetists, which all require master’s degrees.