The nursing profession, like healthcare in general, is in a state of change. The profession of nursing is becoming increasingly complex as patient care is moving out of hospitals and into outpatient and primary care settings. For years, the role of nurses has been evolving from a bedside caregiver to a specialized member of an interdisciplinary medical team.
According to national data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for registered nurses (RNs) is expected to increase 16% by 2024, which is faster than the national average for all other occupations. The BLS also stated that registered nurses with at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) are expected to have the best job opportunities. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research to determine actual job growth rates, which may vary according to location, education and experience.
Many employers have instituted hiring policies which require all RNs to have BSN degrees. Others will employ RNs without a BSN Degree, but typically require new RNs to complete their BSN degree within a certain amount of time.
RNs perform a wide variety of job duties during their shifts, caring for and educating patients about their conditions, as well as establishing trust and building rapport with patients and their families. Same daily RN duties might include:
Most of the nation’s 2.7 million nurses work in medical and surgical hospital environments. The rest are typically employed in physicians’ offices, home healthcare services and nursing care facilities, along with government agencies, support services and educational services.
Nurses usually work in familiar healthcare facilities, but some can work in patients’ homes, schools, community centers or office environments. Travel nurses work where RNs are in short supply, either domestically or in foreign countries.
Because of the nature of the job, many nurses can spend a great deal of time standing and walking, along with bending and lifting. Back stress is a professional hazard because RNs help lift and move patients and equipment. Nurses are also in close contact with patients who have infectious diseases and must follow strict guidelines and protocols to protect their own health.
In hospitals and surgery centers, nursing schedules consist of rotating shifts to cover 24-hour patient care. The duration and number of shifts per week can vary according to the employer’s needs. In addition, many hospital nurses work nights, weekends and holidays and may also be on call.
RNs employed in alternative settings such as physicians’ offices, schools and community health centers typically work regular business hours.
According to the latest data from the BLS, registered nurses earned an average salary of $66,640 in 2014. Reported salaries ranged from $45,880 for those in the lowest 10% to more than $98,880 in the highest 10% of earners.
Because salary potential may vary depending on location, education and experience, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research to determine actual earning potential.
A variety of exciting nursing positions and specialties are available in today’s dynamic healthcare industry. RN to BSN online programs help prepare nurses to take on these expanded roles, where acute and coordinated care, advanced theory, critical thinking, and leadership skills are utilized each day. Among the career possibilities for highly skilled nurses are:
Today’s registered nurses are relied upon for their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and are expected to possess a much broader base of knowledge, including humanities, social sciences, and data analysis. They continue to be in high demand across the country, and increasingly, employers are seeking those with the advanced skills and clinical knowledge that can be obtained through BSN programs.