Registered Nurse Career Guide
RNs who work in a particular setting include perioperative nurses, ambulatory care nurses, critical care nurses, trauma nurses, home health care nurses, hospice nurses, medical-surgical nurses, occupational health nurses, perianesthesia nurses, psychiatric and mental health nurses, radiology nurses, rehabilitation nurses, and transplant nurses. RNs working with a specific health condition include addiction nurses, intellectual and developmental disabilities nurses, diabetes management nurses, genetics nurses, HIV/AIDS nurses, oncology nurses, and wound care nurses. RNs working with a specific population include neonatal nurses, pediatric nurses, adult nurses, and gerontology or geriatric nurses.
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While most RNs work as part of a medical team, some choose to become advanced practice nurses who work independently or collaboratively with physicians and are licensed to prescribe medications. These RNs include clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners.
RNs usually work in a hospital, clinic, doctor's office, or home setting, and spend much of the time walking, bending, stretching, standing, and moving patients. Some RNs may be on call and work long shifts as well as night, weekend, and holiday schedules. They must observe important safety and hygiene standards and should be caring, sympathetic, detail-oriented, responsible, and emotionally stable.
Three paths to becoming an RN include obtaining a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma offered in a hospital setting. After graduating from one of these programs, candidates must pass a national licensing examination, known as the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN. Completion of a master's degree program is essential for positions in administration, research, consulting, teaching, and advanced practice.
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