General facts about a career as a Registered Nurse

The medical field has always been consistent with a demand for workers throughout the country, making any career within this area a solid choice for a future investment. CNA is just the first step in your nursing endeavor, becoming a Registered Nurse is the second. If you’re considering a career as a Registered Nurse, there are a few things you should consider before committing to that path, such as job prospects, pay, necessary education requirements, and so forth. While the experience may differ from person to person, on the whole the field for Registered Nurses is relatively similar.

Registered nurse in action

1) How To Become A Registered Nurse

As of right now there are two ways to become a Registered Nurse. An individual may complete an Associates Degree in the Science of Nursing at a two-year institution, or they may pursue a four year education at an accredited nursing school to receive a Bachelors Degree in the Science of Nursing. For each of these paths, graduates must then go on to take their boards exam known as the NCLEX, which, upon passing, certifies their license within the state they have taken the test.

Upon learning the education requirements, many people question why anyone would choose a Bachelors over an Associates degree, as the latter takes less time than the former. However, new Registered Nurses with a Bachelors degree receive a considerably larger pay as opposed to new nurses with just an Associates Degree. In this case, more education equals more money. Furthermore, the federal government, as well as several states, are considering eliminating the Associates Nursing Degree as it prohibits the market from producing equally educated Nurses and floods the labor field with inexperienced workers. While this movement has only begun to pick up in recent years, it is more than likely to go through as there are considerably more new nurses with Bachelors Degrees than Associates.

2) Job Outlook

Several reports in the last five years have suggested that there is a nursing shortage around the country. However, a closer analysis at these studies need to be produced in order to show the truth behind these numbers. In reality, while there is a nursing shortage in many areas, a large amount of newer nurses are struggling to find entry level employment. Many hospitals are refusing to hire nurses with little to no experience in the field, resulting in the nursing “shortage” that has been reported as of late.

While several thousand students become Registered Nurses each year, hospitals have slighted them of job opportunities as they lack experience and require additional training and orientation, a cost that many areas do now wish to put out for a new worker. Furthermore, to make matters worse, experienced nurses who may be near retirement age have chosen not to exit the labor field. Since the economic decline of 2008, many individuals who would have typically retired by now have chosen to stay working to secure an income, leading to a lack of open positions for new nurses. Should the market free itself of these locked positions, it would be likely that new nurses may have an easier time finding jobs. However, as the economy has been slow to rebound, it is unclear when a more fluent hiring period will come to effect.

3) Pay

The average national pay for a Registered Nurse is around $65,000, which is certainly modest by many standards. However, this national average should be taken with a grain of salt as several factors can contribute to making this number higher than the true value. For example, a Registered Nurse who has been employed in one area for a few decades can increase their salary to six figures.

Furthermore, larger metropolitan areas pay their nurses much higher than more rural areas, leading to a higher national average, but a greater disparity between locations as well. While a new Registered Nurse can earn around $60,000 in New York City (should they land a job there), a new nurse in a more rural part of New York can expect to see about half of that.

4) Job Requirements

As a Registered Nurse, you’ll need to be able to handle a variety of situations, so it typically requires a special type of person to enter the field and become successful. For example, a nurse working in geriatrics will need to handle older people well, while cleaning and feeding them daily, as well as performing less than savory tasks of cleaning their feces or dealing with the onsets of dementia. While this may seem troublesome, other fields are much more demanding, such as a pediatric oncology wing, which requires caring for children who suffer from cancer; a troubling sight for any person.

Undoubtedly, a Registered Nurse requires a strong willed mind for the field and the work requires, but nurses differ from doctors in one very particular aspect. Where doctors are mainly concerned with the physical health of their patients, nurses are typically expected to care for the mental concerns of the patients as well. As the tradition of nursing has usually required a caring and maternalistic nature, it is not unexpected to communicate often with your patients and connect with them in a way most doctors would not. For this reason, anyone looking to enter the field as a Registered Nurse should consider themselves to be compassionate and patient people with a large amount of concern for the comfort and care of their patients.

5) Work Environment

The work environment for a Registered Nurse can vary, but it is usually rather defined. Most hospitals, for example, have three separate 8-hour shifts, with “Days” covering 8am – 4pm, “Evenings” covering 3pm – 11pm, and “Nights” covering 11pm – 7am. While the specific hours may differ between hospitals, this is a general layout one can expect to see. Furthermore, following the care requirements of a nurse’s mentality, it is not unusual to work extra hours or overtime in order to ensure a patient receives proper care. In a setting that has a smaller staff, it is usually an unmentioned requirement that you make yourself available for additional work hours.

It should also be mentioned that most nurses establish a sense of camaraderie amongst one another, even throughout nursing school. This sense of teamwork comes with enduring a rigorous course of study and labor intensive work which each individual can relate to, creating a closer bond between one another. Coupled with the general caring nature that most nurses have, it is very typical to see close bonds between nurses on the floor and in their respective hospital wings.


The career of a Registered Nurse can be fulfilling as it is trying. There are many days that will seem to go on forever, while others will fill the individual with a sense of pride and accomplishment. With the economy as it stands currently, many new nurses are finding it difficult to secure entry level positions, but this effect has been felt in most labor fields. Despite this setback though, the pay for a Registered Nurse is substantial, and can increase considerably overtime, making the career of nursing is fantastic for anyone who fits the description.

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