Medical Professions Resources Directory: Registered Nurse

How To Become a...

How To Become a Registered Nurse


A Registered Nurse (RN) cares for patients at the hospital bedside, in private clinics, and in the patient's home. They could work to help prevent disease, to educate the public about health issues, to enhance public health, and to support ill patients both physically and mentally. RN's do the following tasks while working: provide bedside care for hospital in-patients, monitor all aspects of patient care including diet and physical activity, administer treatment and give medications to patients under the direction of physicians, observe the patient assess and record symptoms and note reactions and progress, and develop and manage nursing care plans and instruct patients and caregivers in how to perform tasks they can do themselves.

Other RN's that work in doctor offices, clinics, emergency care centers, and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) perform these tasks: prepare patients for and administer physical examinations, dress wounds, give injections or medicines, and assist in minor surgeries, and they may help with the management of the office and supervise other staff.

Home health nurses provide health care in patient's homes and they do these tasks: travel to patient's homes and administer medications, check the physical and mental condition of patients and instruct the patient on proper home care, educate the patient and family in various aspects of home health. They might teach, counsel and demonstrate skills also. Act as an intermediary between the physician, hospital, staff, and the patient, and supervise other home health workers. Nurses can also work for government agencies, schools, clinics, and retirement communities.

To become a either a Registered Nurse or a Nurse Practitioner you should be able to speak and effectively convey information, actively looking for ways to help people, be aware of others reactions and understanding why they react the way they do, understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents, ability to listen and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences, make judgment and decisions, able to diagnose and treat injuries, diseases and deformities like symptoms, alternative treatment, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health care measures. You should know biology like the living tissues of plants and animals, cells, organisms, and their functions and how they are connected with each other in the environment.

Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services that could include assessment techniques, quality service standards, alternative delivery systems and customer satisfaction evaluation techniques. Knowledge of chemistry, problem solving and critical thinking. Nurses also need emotional stability to cope with human suffering and frequent emergencies.

Dangers from infectious agents are part of the work. Diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis present the possibility of infection to the RN. Strictly following procedures can lessen, but not eliminate disease transmission.

There are two types of Registered Nurse training programs are available in the United States: two-year community college associate degree programs and four-year bachelor's degree programs. Both programs include clinical experience in one or more hospitals and clinics in addition to classroom instruction. Most community colleges give Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) credit for their basic nursing course work and experience. LVNs can complete the requirements for an associate degree in nursing in two years. At that point, a LVN can work or transfer to a four-year college to obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing to be licensed as a RN. LVNs with associate degrees, or former military medical corps workers, may qualify for advanced placement in four-year bachelor's degree nursing programs. There are currently 22 schools that offer a baccalaureate degree in nursing, and over 70 schools in California that offer two-year degrees in nursing. Twenty-four schools offer Nurse Practitioner degrees.

Experienced RNs may advance from bedside nursing to supervisory positions or clinical specialist positions, such as Critical Care Nurse. Those with bachelor's degrees may become nursing administrators, consultants, educators, or researchers. A growing number take special courses, often earning a master's degree, to become Nurse Practitioners. Nurse Practitioners may also advance into administration, but most view themselves as health care professionals trained to diagnose and treat patients for illnesses and injuries formerly treated only by doctors. Most Nurse Practitioners stay in this occupation throughout their career life. <





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