In the medical profession, PRN stands for practicing registered nurse, which is a registered nurse who is actively working the field. Registered nurses make up the largest occupation in the health care profession. Though most work in hospitals and work directly with patients, registered nurses can also work in homes or outpatient care centers and work as educators or assist in medical legal cases.
Practicing registered nurses are distinguished from other nurses, particularly from licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who are also called licensed vocation nurses (LVNs). The licensure to become a licensed practical nurse takes less education than to become a practicing registered nurse, so these nurses operate under the direction of registered nurses. Another position that shares some of the work of these positions, but requires less education than both and qualifies one to do less as well, is a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
There are a number of paths to becoming a certified registered nurse. The most common is a program resulting in an associate of science in nursing degree (or AND). Though these are two-year programs, it sometimes takes an extra year or two to complete their prerequisites. The second most common path, though it was the most common until the late ’90s, is a diploma program, which usually takes three years. There are also four-year programs that result in bachelor of science in nursing degrees (BSN) and prepare students for graduate work in nursing.
Nursing laws are determined by state, but every state accepts the NCLEX-RN, a national licensing test, as a qualification to practice as a registered nurse. To take this test, one much have completed one of the educational programs listed in the above section.
In 2006, about 2.5 million jobs were filled by registered nurses. Nearly two-thirds of these jobs where in hospitals while less than one-tenth, the second largest set, was in physician’s offices. Homes, nursing care facilities, employment services and outpatient care centers were the next four biggest places of employment. About a fifth of these positions were part time.
In 2006, the median income for registered nurses was just under $60,000 a year. Already the largest health care occupation and suffering from staff shortages, registered nursing employment is expected to continue growing at a higher rate than other industries. Because of trends in where and how long patients are treated, more growth is expected in physician's offices, home health care services and outpatient care facilities than in hospitals.
2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses
Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.