A registered nurse is someone who completes a requisite associate's, bachelor's or diploma degree program in nursing and then completes the national licensing exam to earn an RN license. As an RN, you can work in a doctor's office or clinic, hospital, retirement facility or in individual homes provide personal health aide. Median pay in 2010 was $64,690, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but you do need some basic personal qualities to succeed in a nursing career.
Whether you call it caring, compassion or empathy, a nurse strongly needs the innate ability to recognize and appreciate the needs and concerns of patients. In an August 2012 article in "The Atlantic," veteran health journalist Liz Seegert pointed out that research shows that compassion is a natural ability and not something you can generally learn. If you naturally have appreciation of the plights and situations of others, nursing may offer a high degree of personal satisfaction.
Nurses communicate with doctors, co-workers and patients on a daily basis. They often spend more time one-on-one with patients than a doctor. This includes pre-appointment questions to gather information and take notes. Nurses then communicate to doctors the information they find to prepare the doctor for his visit. Nurses also communicate with other nurses and reception staff to coordinate prescriptions and updates on patient files. They also convey information to patients on treatment and follow-up with more details after a doctor's treatment recommendation.
Nurses play a key role in patient management and care. They often provide routine treatment, such as bandaging of wounds, removal of sutures and administration of shots and other medications. Technical competency and attention to detail are associated qualities that contribute to the overall need for nurses to be responsible for their work and their patients. Nurses need to keep accurate health records and must ensure accuracy in giving patients the right medicines and information. Even with attention to detail and accuracy requirements, nurses must often work efficiently to keep doctors on pace with appointments.
Over the course of a day in a doctor's office or hospital, you could see patients with a wide array of illnesses and conditions and levels of severity. In a hospital, you may go from bandaging a cut for one patient to setting up an IV for another. You may also be asked to help transport a patient from an operating room to a waiting room. All the while, it is helpful if you can remain calm and don't easily get frustrated or angry. First, this can upset patients and co-workers, which negatively affects business. Second, you will easily get burned out if you get caught up in the demands of the job.
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.