What Does A Registered Nurse Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

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Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Registered Nurses

Registered Nurses assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. Administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients. May advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management. Licensing or registration required.

Salary
$80010
Becoming One
Medium
Education
Associate's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Registered Nurses assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. Administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients. May advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management. Licensing or registration required.

  • Maintain accurate, detailed reports and records.
  • Administer medications to patients and monitor patients for reactions or side effects.
  • Record patients’ medical information and vital signs.
  • Monitor, record, and report symptoms or changes in patients’ conditions.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Registered Nurses perform administrative or managerial functions, such as taking responsibility for a unit’s staff, budget, planning, or long-range goals. They maintain accurate, detailed reports and records.

A typical day for a Registered Nurse will also include:

  • Record patients’ medical information and vital signs.
  • Observe nurses and visit patients to ensure proper nursing care.
  • Prepare rooms, sterile instruments, equipment, or supplies and ensure that stock of supplies is maintained.
  • Work with individuals, groups, or families to plan or implement programs designed to improve the overall health of communities.
  • Consult and coordinate with healthcare team members to assess, plan, implement, or evaluate patient care plans.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Registered Nurses also refer students or patients to specialized health resources or community agencies furnishing assistance. They may also prescribe or recommend drugs, medical devices, or other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy, inhalation therapy, or related therapeutic procedures.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Registered Nurses provide or arrange for training or instruction of auxiliary personnel or students. They might also assess the needs of individuals, families, or communities, including assessment of individuals’ home or work environments, to identify potential health or safety problems.

In addition, they consult with institutions or associations regarding issues or concerns relevant to the practice and profession of nursing.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them hand items to surgeons during operations.

To some Registered Nurses, it is also their responsibility to perform physical examinations, make tentative diagnoses, and treat patients en route to hospitals or at disaster site triage centers.

Featured Schools


What is the job like

Job satisfaction

High

Is this job meaningful

Very High

71% said they were satisfied with their job and 80% said they found their job meaningful.


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Emergency department

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A Level 1 Trauma Center

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A Level 1 trauma center and a burn center

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Caritas Frankfurt

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A surgery centre

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A level II hospital

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Visiting Nurses Association of Cape Cod

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Pros

Suitable for people who like to help and teach others.

Suitable for people who value relationships between co-workers and customers and want to work in a friendly non-competitive environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

It is not too difficult to get into this career. Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Normal working hours (40 hours per week).

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to work with designs.

How much do they make

Average salary

$80010 per year

Average hourly wage

$38 per hour

Entry-level Registered Nurses with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $53,410 to $61,630 per year or $26 to $30 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $116,230 $56
Senior (Top 25%) $93,590 $45
Median $75,330 $36
Junior (Bottom 25%) $61,630 $30
No experience (Bottom 10%) $53,410 $26

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Registered Nurses based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Business Support Services $106670 $51.28
Federal Executive Branch $96230 $46.26
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing $92110 $44.29
Other Investment Pools and Funds $91990 $44.23
Office Administrative Services $89490 $43.02
Outpatient Care Centers $89300 $42.93
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing $89040 $42.81
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing $88660 $42.63
Other Amusement and Recreation Industries $84800 $40.77
Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers $84450 $40.60

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Registered Nurses work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Registered Nurses including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 1729200 $81680 $39.27
Offices of Physicians 192300 $71660 $34.45
Home Health Care Services 169630 $75870 $36.48
Outpatient Care Centers 150380 $89300 $42.93
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) 143250 $72090 $34.66
Federal Executive Branch 86860 $96230 $46.26
Specialty Hospitals 63910 $82910 $39.86
Elementary and Secondary Schools 54500 $62170 $29.89
Employment Services 51860 $75300 $36.20
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals 39840 $77250 $37.14

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
24%

40 hours
60%

More than 40 hours
16%

Working schedule

90%

10%

0%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
23%

Every day
58%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
0%

Every day
99%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
10%

Every day
82%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
47%

Once a year
29%

Once a month
8%

Once a week
16%

Every day
1%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
9%

Slightly competitive
13%

Moderately competitive
33%

Highly competitive
28%

Extremely competitive
16%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
2%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
97%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
82%

Once a year or more
10%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
8%

Every day
0%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
81%

Once a year or more
1%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
9%

Every day
8%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
99%

Once a year or more
1%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Medium
You will need previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Most careers in this difficulty category require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an Associate’s degree, and one or two years of on-the-job training. Similar careers include Travel Agents, Agricultural Technicians, Court Reports, and Medical Assistants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
0%

Some College Courses
11%

Associate’s Degree or similar
66%

Bachelor’s Degree
23%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
0%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

Clinical Nurse Leader

A program that prepares registered nurses for careers as clinical nurse leaders in which they work as part of an interdisciplinary team that provides direct medical care for patients based on evidence-based practice and research. Includes instruction in pharmacology, pathophysiology, epidemiology, research in nursing methods, advanced health assessment, statistics, and clinical practice management.

Nursing Practice

A practice-focused program that prepares registered nurses for increasingly complex evidence-based nursing practice, including translating research into practice, evaluating evidence, applying research in decision-making, and implementing viable clinical innovations to change practice. Includes instruction in healthcare delivery systems, health economics and finance, health policy, research methods, translating evidence into practice, concepts in population health, and nursing leadership.

Emergency Room/Trauma Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to deliver advanced, direct patient care in emergency and trauma settings. Includes instruction in advanced health assessment, pharmacology, physiology, emergency management, trauma conditions, trauma assessments and acute care.


Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to deliver nursing health care services to workers and worker populations in clinical settings and at job sites. Includes instruction in public and community health, occupational safety and health, occupational health surveillance, case management, fitness for duty testing, medication, allergies and immunization, emergency and ambulatory care, and applicable laws and regulations.

Critical Care Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to provide specialized care to patients with life-threatening problems, including those in intensive care facilities and on life support. Includes instruction in adult, neonatal, and pediatric critical care; technical skills; patient monitoring and assessment; normal and abnormal readings; and troubleshooting.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

A program that prepares registered nurses to deliver direct patient and client care in clinical settings. Includes instruction in clinical pharmacotherapeutics, advanced clinical practice, holistic nursing, nursing practice and health care policy, administration and consultation services, health assessment, patient stabilization and care, and patient education.


Perioperative/Operating Room and Surgical Nurse/Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to provide care to patients before and during surgery, and provide tableside assistance to surgeons. Includes instruction in operating room safety and preparation, aseptic technique, anesthesia, patient preparation, surgical instruments and procedures, sterilization and disinfecting, surgical drugs and solutions, hemostasis, emergency procedures, and patient/family education.

Public Health/Community Nurse/Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to promote health and provide preventive and curative nursing services for groups or communities under the supervision of a public health agency. Includes instruction in community and rural health, family therapy and intervention, disease prevention, health education, and community health assessment.

Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse/Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to promote mental health and provide nursing care to patients with mental, emotional or behavioral disorders, in mental institutions or other settings. Includes instruction in psychopathology, behavioral health, counseling and intervention strategies, psychoeducation, mental health assessment and dual diagnosis, stabilization and management of psychotic illness, psychiatric care and rehabilitation, substance abuse, and crisis intervention.


Pediatric Nurse/Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to provide care for children from infancy through adolescence. Includes instruction in the administration of medication and treatments, assisting physicians, patient examination and referral, and planning and delivering health maintenance and health education programs.

Forensic Nursing

A program that prepares individuals to apply the law and forensic science to nursing practice and collaborate with other professionals for the care of victims and the prosecution of criminals. Includes instruction in advanced physical assessment, evidence collection and preservation, forensic anthropology, legal testimony, medicolegal investigation, pathophysiology, pathohistology, pharmacology, and violence prevention.

Women’s Health Nurse/Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to provide health care specific to women. Includes instruction in the wellness and care of women, gynecology, obstetrics, advanced nursing practices for women, evidence-based nursing practice, advanced physiology and pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, and pharmacotherapeutics.


Geriatric Nurse/Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to provide health care to aging and elderly patients. Includes instruction in geriatric primary care, geriatric diagnosis, mental health and aging, primary care management, geriatric acute and chronic illness, advanced nursing practices for geriatric patients, evidence-based nursing practice, advanced physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and pharmacotherapeutics.

Palliative Care Nursing

A program that prepares registered nurses to provide a combination of active and compassionate therapies intended to comfort and support patients and their families who are living with life-threatening illness. Includes instruction in pathophysiology, palliative care processes, pain management, pharmacology, loss, grief, death, and bereavement.


Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
25%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
11%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
1%

1 to 2 years
29%

2 to 4 years
11%

4 to 6 years
1%

6 to 8 years
11%

8 to 10 years
11%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
1%

1 month
17%

1 to 3 months
40%

3 to 6 months
38%

6 months to 1 year
5%

1 to 2 years
0%

2 to 4 years
0%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Helper

People with this personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.

The Builder
52%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
81%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
24%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
100%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
29%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
67%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They like helping or providing service to others.

They also like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
76%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
69%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
67%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
90%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
86%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
76%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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