The very first known nursing school was established in India in 250 BC. Now, modern nursing as it is known today began in the 1800s and was developed by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War. As decades passed, nurses took on more and more responsibilities and nursing education became more standardized in the early 1900s, with most education coming from hospitals. The need for qualified registered nurses increased greatly after World War II and many colleges and universities throughout the United States started to develop nursing programs for both licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. The registered nurse provides complete patient care within the scope of nursing practice guidelines.
Registered Nurse Salary
The average registered nurse salary is $67,610 per year. The lowest 10 percent RN nurse salary is around $54,395 per year and the highest 10 percent is around $80,438 per year.
Registered nursing salaries vary greatly. Your employer, size of your employer and where your employer is located will all factor into how much money you make as a registered nurse. Registered nurse certifications, registered nurse education and your level of experience will also play a major role.
Registered Nurse Job Description
The registered nurse job description is varied and includes a broad scope of tasks and responsibilities. 60 percent of registered nurses work in a hospital setting, but other opportunities exist in small clinics, prisons and jails, schools, community centers, home health care, government agencies and nursing agencies. Nurses may perform the following roles throughout the shift, depending on where they work:
- Identify patient requirements
- Create and execute nursing care plans
- Provide emotional, spiritual and psychological support to patients
- Adheres to all standards set by state nurse practice acts and the state board of nursing
- Maintains and clean and safe work environment
- Resolves patient problems
- Advocates for patient rights and needs
- Documents all related care
- Ensure equipment is clean and working properly
- Administers medications and certain treatments
- Works to resolve medical emergencies
- Performs certain diagnostic tests
- Consults with physicians and other members of the healthcare team
- Supervises subordinates
Registered Nurse Education
To become a registered nurse you will either need to complete an accredited Associate of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After you complete your degree, you will sit for your National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses and will need to successfully pass it. Some employers will require experience, but the majority of nurses can find entry level employment in medical surgical nursing.
When you are looking at how to become a registered nurse, you will see that an associate degree will take about two years and a bachelor’s degree will take about four years to complete. Each degree will combine a mixture of lecture classes and clinical requirements. The classes that typically have both a classroom and a clinical aspect include:
- Pediatric nursing
- Medical surgical nursing
- Geriatric nursing
- Obstetrical nursing
- Psychiatric nursing
- Acute care nursing
Each school will vary in what they require for each class and the program as a whole. It is important to look at how to become an RN and find a school that best aligns with your learning style and preferences.
Registered Nurse Certification and Licensing
The first license you will pursue to become a registered nurse is your registered nursing license. The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses will allow you to seek and obtain employment in the United States as a registered nurse. There are over 100 additional certifications that you can pursue if you wish to specialize as a registered nurse.
If you wish to work in a more acute setting, you will want to look into getting your Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certificate. This is a certification that is granted by the American Heart Association and must be renewed every two years. The initial class will require you to be present for two days and each day will last approximately six hours. Your will learn about advanced techniques in emergency cardiac care so that you are able to handle more complex cardiac medical emergencies. A seven-hour course must be completed to renew your certificate.
If you want to go into a specific field, such as emergency nursing, cardiac nursing or pediatrics, you can obtain certificates in these areas to broaden your knowledge, and in some cases, your scope of practice. Most of these require a year of experience in that specialty, an unrestricted registered nursing license, an examination and continuing education to maintain your certification. More and more hospitals are requiring further certification to maintain their magnet status or to obtain magnet status. These certifications are also shown to improve overall patient care.
Registered Nurse Job Outlook
The job outlook for a registered nurse is very strong and is expected to only get stronger in coming years. Employment opportunities are expected to increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018.
There are many factors associated with the faster than average job growth for registered nurses. One factor is that many older nurses are getting ready to retire and new nurses are needed to take their place to ensure optimal patient care. The aging population as a whole has increased the need for skilled nurses to provide competent patient care. New technologies, the emergence of new hospitals and the birth of new sub-specialties are also working to increase the need for registered nurses.