Registered Nurse (RN) Job Description

registered nurse
Hero Images/Getty Images

According to the American Nursing Association (ANA), "nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations." 

Registered nurses (RNs) work as part of a team of physicians, therapists, practitioners, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and other healthcare professionals to provide care to patients. Registered nurses work in all types of medical and nonmedical settings including medical offices, hospitals, nursing homes, surgical centers, clinics, schools and other facilities that offer health and medical care to patients.

Salary Expectations

A registered nurse can expect to earn a salary ranging from $40,000 to over $95,000 per year. The average salary per year is around $77,000 per year.

The salary is contingent upon a number of variables such as location, size of facility, hours, incentives, education, experience, and other factors. This Salary Comparison Tool can give more specific information based on many factors for registered nurses and other medical professions.

The job forecast for registered nurses is excellent. The growth rate for this career is expected to be at or around 19% over the next 10 years due to the rise in the aged population and the common ailments and diseases that are associated with aging. Opportunities are expected to increase in long-term care facilities, outpatient care centers, and home healthcare facilities.

Find current job opportunities for registered nurses by visiting Indeed's job listings.

Nature of the Work

A registered nurse (RN) provides patient care by administering treatment and medications, performing diagnostic tests and arranging patient follow-up; and record patients' medical histories and symptoms. Depending on the type of specialty, registered nurses duties depend on the type of patients they treat.  Some examples are:

  • Oncology nurses: nurses that treat patients that have cancer
  • Pediatric nurses: nurses that treat infants and children
  • Emergency nurses: nurses that treat patients in the emergency room
  • Geriatric nurses: nurses that treat elderly patients

Registered nurses typically perform the following job duties:

  • Patient assessment
  • Analyzing laboratory reports
  • Executing medical regimens
  • Patient health counseling and instruction
  • Operating medical equipment
  • Administer patient medication and treatment

Position Requirements

To become a registered nurse, one must complete an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). There are several educational paths that registered nurses can take:

  • Diploma: A diploma can be obtained through hospital-based schools of nursing
  • ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing): A two-year degree can be obtained through hospital-based schools of nursing or a community college
  • BS/BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing): A four-year degree can be obtained through a college or university
  • MSN (Master of Science in Nursing): Programs may vary, students are prepared to become nurse administrators
  • PhD (Doctor of Philosophy): Programs may vary, students are prepared to become researchers or teachers
  • DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice): Programs may vary, students are prepared for leadership roles

Many healthcare facilities require nurses to have a minimum of a bachelor degree.

Some of the physical and mental characteristics of a successful registered nurse will include the following:

  • Physical strength and stamina to transport and assist patients
  • Physical dexterity
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Enjoy working with others
  • Time management skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • Ability to handle stressful situations
  • Interest in continued learning
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Computer skills
Was this page helpful?