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Registered Nurse Job Description

Registered nurses (RNs) are the backbone of today’s healthcare system. They work the frontlines in doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, and other healthcare settings, and often care for patients more than any other health professional.

Registered nurses take on a broad range of responsibilities when it comes to patient care. Ultimately, an RN’s job is to ensure that a patient gets the care they need.

Some RNs provide direct patient care while others oversee other nurses as they care for a patient. There are also RN teaching jobs where you can instruct nursing students on their path to becoming a nurse. Some RNs are also involved in helping to conduct research trials for a new medication or community education about certain diseases and health conditions. Finally, with the advent of telemedicine, many RNs today work from home or in telehealth, fielding and answering patients’ medical concerns online or over the phone.

Potential RN responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring a patient’s condition and treatment and documenting patient complaints, symptoms, and courses of action taken to resolve issues
  • Adhering to workplace policies concerning patient care
  • Starting IVs and administering medication, while monitoring for side effects
  • Carrying out doctors’ orders to treat a patient
  • Wound care
  • Assisting medical procedures, operations, and exams
  • Providing direct care to sick, injured, or recovering patients
  • Developing and implementing patient care plans
  • Helping to maintain medical records
  • Ordering diagnostic tests as per a doctor’s instruction
  • Supervising subordinates, including nursing aides, licensed practical nurses, and nursing assistants
  • Educating and instructing patients and their families on how to manage or treat a health condition
  • Helping to ensure a sterile and safe environment for patients and healthcare teams
  • Disinfecting or decontaminating rooms, instruments, and medical equipment
  • Offering support to families

An RN’s job responsibilities will depend on where they work and what is required of the job. Some RNs might even work at a job that is more administrative than clinical. However, most RN jobs are clinical in nature and are geared toward direct patient care.

Registered Nurse Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for registered nurses was $82,750 as of May 2021.

But having additional certifications and specialties under your belt as well as working for some industries can greatly increase your salary.

According to, the highest-paying nursing specialties are certified registered nurse anesthetists at $195,610, general nurse practitioners at $120,680, and ICU nurses, who earn $120,243.

The BLS cites that RNs who work for air transportation services and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies earn an average of $112,630 and $105,270 per year, respectively.

Some states also pay certified registered nurses more. California, Hawaii, and Oregon have the highest RN salaries, ranging from $98,630 to $124,000. New York doesn’t fall far behind and pays its RNs an average of $93,320 annually, and along with California and Texas, employs more RNs than other states.

For Instance

Stanford Health in California has numerous open registered nurse jobs acrossmany specialties. California also happens to have the greatest shortage of registered nurses and will need to employ more than 44,000 nurses by 2030, so working as an RN in California can help to fulfill a great need.

Middlesex Health has available registered nurse jobs at its locations in Connecticut. These positions range from typical RN positions to more specialized positions, such as midwife.

CVS Health is also seeking registered nurses to fillmore than 400 of its open RN jobs. The jobs are located across the U.S. in multiple states, including Washington, Florida, Arizona, New York, and more.

Registered Nurse Training and Requirements

According to, the pathto becoming a registered nurse consists of two steps: education and licensing.

You must first take courses to receive a four-year undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from a college or university. There, you’ll take courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, nutrition, psychology, physiology, and others. The last two years of your education will focus on learning about chronic and acute disease, pediatrics, community health, and more.

If you want to work in specialty nursing, you’ll need to further your studies and gain a master’s degree or higher.

Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll need to obtain licensing from the state in which you plan to work. Each state has its own requirements for licensing, certification, continuing education, and competency so you’ll need to learn what those are in your state.

You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, to be licensed to practice in your state. The gold standard in certification is considered to be the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification.

Depending on the job you apply for, you may need to develop a few technical nursing skills to position yourself more favorably before other candidates. These include:

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and CPR certification
  • Critical care nursing
  • Acute care
  • Case management
  • Telemetry
  • Life support

Some soft skills will also be highly desired and include good communication and listening skills, multitasking, critical thinking, attention to detail, the ability to prioritize and deal with complex situations, and compassion.


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