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Registered nurse

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Registered nursing contains the most extensive healthcare community in America with 2.6 million filled positions in its field. [1] Registered nurses (RNs) constantly work towards improving the health of patients, preventing disease, providing emotional support to patients and patients’ families, and informing patients, patients’ families, and communities in the basics of healthcare. [2]

Some basic traits that are valued in registered nurses include reliability, punctuality, responsibility, detail-orientation, strong communications skills, the ability to be emotionally supportive, and self-motivation.[3]


This pictures features a group of graduating nurses from medical training.

The education needed to become licensed as a RN begins with the completion of one of five programs, degrees, or diplomas: a nursing diploma (ND), a certified nursing degree (CNA), a licensed practical nursing degree (LPN), a licensed vocational nursing degree (LVN), or an associated degree of nursing (ADN). Once completed, these would qualify the student to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which upon passing, will automatically allow the student to be recognized as a registered nurse (RN) [4]

A nursing diploma (ND) can be attained from enrolling in a 2-3 year course at a community college or hospital. However, less than 100 hospitals in the United States offer this program and this degree cannot be used for further education in nursing. It simply qualifies the individual to become an RN. Eligibility to apply for a ND course requires finished high school courses in chemistry, biology, and algebra. To ensure application acceptance, prior volunteer work in hospitals, clinics, or nursing schools are recommended. [5]

Coursework to complete a certified nursing degree (CNA) can be accomplished through a 2 week to 1 month course provided by the Red Cross or local nursing homes usually instructed by a RN. Examples of a few places where CNAs could find work include nursing homes, adult care centers, or hospitals. CNAs take on numerous tasks throughout their work experience such as bathing and dressing patients, helping patients in the restroom, providing patients meals, catheter care, ambulatory help such as moving wheelchairs, monitoring vital signs, assisting with physical therapy, as well as medical documentation and post mortem care. [6]

Most LPN/LVN degrees are offered through a two-year program located in local high schools or community colleges. To qualify for application to one of these programs the potential student must have a high school diploma or GED. LPNs/LVNs usually work under the supervision of a doctor or a RN. Their job requirements include answering calls to the residence of employment, applying dressing to patients, giving ice packs and alcohol rubs, treating and preventing bedsores of bedridden patients, providing meals and snacks for patients, watching for any negative reaction from the patient to administered medication, inserting IVs, drawing blood, and preparing rooms for medical procedures. [7]

The final option, applying to acquire an associated degree in nursing (ADN) can be obtained from either a two year community college course or four year university course. ADNs emphasize technical nursing skills and are usually the first stepping stones in the pursuit of a higher degree in nursing.[5] This is usually a more productive path for those who are searching for higher education in this field because ADNs allow immediate job opportunities upon graduation. [8] After an individual takes and passes the NACLEX-RN they retain the official title of RN. From here, there are many options the student can take to further their education and open doors for more various and abundant career opportunities.

Education Cost

Higher education costs can become a weight; information, awareness, and planning are three key ways to prevent being overwhelmed by finances.

Along with all of these educational options comes the question of cost. To attain a CNA degree within a two week to one month period, the average cost levels around $300 or more depending on the state. Some CNA certifications are offered for without charge in return for free labor in nursing homes or hospitals. [9]

The average cost of a LPN degree within a two year course varies depending on where the degree is accomplished. At a college or university, tuition alone can range between $10, 000 to $25,000 dollars per year without any additional fees. “Additional costs beyond LPN tuition may include the cost of books, uniforms, liability insurance, background checks, medical exams, study guides, travel, and medical equipment.”[10]

However, if pursued at a community college or high school, the cost lowers significantly to around $4,000 dollars per year [10] A two year ADN program can vary between $3,000 to $25,000 dollars, once again depending on where the course is taken. [11]

The cost of acquiring a RN degree from a college or university stays around $20,000 to $30,000 dollars per year. Once again, community college rates sit much lower at a $500 to $1000 dollar range per year. [12]


The entry level salary for a registered nurse wavers between $19.87 and $36.45 per hour. [13] Annually, an entry level nurse can earn from $30,500 to $63,000. [14] This specific salary represents a standard middle class income. The pay allows the worker to live comfortably and financially secure. [15] In five years of steady work, the salary remains about the same, rising slightly to $33,000 to $63,000 annually. After ten years of steady work, pay rises significantly to $20 to $44 an hour, accumulating to $41,000 to $93,000 annually. [16]

Job Benefits

Many job benefits come packaged with the pay. One of these include paid time off (PTO). Most hospitals reward their nurses with up to 160 - 180 hours of PTO in exchange for every one year of work. [17] Also, health insurance is readily provided, entailing medical, vision, dental, and prescription coverage as well as an average of 40 hours of sick pay and reduced cost on everyday healthcare such as doctor’s appointments.[18] Another benefit sometimes applied to nursing jobs is tuition reimbursement, where the healthcare organization who employs the nurse pays for that employee to pursue a higher degree. Alongside job benefits walk career path benefits. Nursing provides a lot of job security throughout a career because it maintains the title of the largest healthcare group with a growing demand. Also, schedules are usually flexible. Another fantastic quality about nursing is its geographic flexibility. Healthcare locations and facilities sprinkle the country, letting nursing become an extremely mobile job. [17]

Job Field Outlook

This field represents a slightly competitive job market. The strength of job offers varies which causes many graduates to relocate. Most job openings are positions left open by an employee relocating to another job. [19]

Job opportunities should increase in the next few years due to the turnover of hospital nurses to new locations. The most competitive nursing job station in doctor’s offices and outpatient care centers because of the comfortable hours and conditions of the workplace. A high demand for nurses in rural and innercity locations draw some students away from the urban job market for nursing, leaving available spots to be filled by graduating nurses. [20] The Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that the nursing field will grow 26% from 2010 to 2012. This statistic sits higher than other related jobs. The significant growth witnessed within nursing attributes to technological advancement, better treatment options, and an increased care staff. The largest job expansion in nursing will be seen in hospitals and physician offices where chemotherapy, surgery, and rehabilitation are conducted. [20]

Nursing and its success relies on the predicament of the economy. The ongoing American recession causes workers who may have retired or moved to a part time job to continue and work full time simply to make ends meet. This mindset causes a more competitive job market than in previous years. However, growth and success pend in the nursing field with hope of a healing economy. [21] Baby boomers will need more healthcare and the nursing workforce is aging. There is an estimated 900,000 nurses who are in their 50s. That is more than one third of the workforce. Many of these RNs will reach retirement age and leave the market, so keep your eyes on the longer-term.” [21]


There are many reliable ways to save for retirement.

Retirement from the nursing field begins upon employment. Multiple retirement plans present themselves as excellent choices. For nurses, their agencies usually provide pension, social security, or a 401k plan. Social security includes full time working benefits where one third of an employee income is paid back to the employee beginning in their early 60s. Pensions entail paying a monthly fee to help save for retirement at the end of a career. A 401k plan stands reliable that is portable amongst various jobs without any loss in savings. [22]


  1. Staff, United States Department of Labor. “Quick Facts on Registered Nurses (RNs)” ”NPR”. Web. 2009 (last updated).
  2. Staff, Lansing Community College. “Career Fact for Registered Nursing” “LCC”. Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).
  3. Staff, eHow. “Personality Qualities Needed to be a RN” ”eHow”. Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).
  4. Staff, Bureau of Labor Statistics. “How to Become a Registered Nurse” "Bureau of Labor Statistics". Web. 29 March 2012 (last updated).
  5. 5.0 5.1 Staff, All Nursing Schools “Associate’s Degree in Nursing vs. Nursing Diploma” "All Nursing Schools". Web. 24 April 2013 (accessed).
  6. Staff, Nursing Degree Guide “Types of Nurses” Nursing Degree Guide. Web. 24 April 2013 (accessed).
  7. Staff, Nursing Degree Guide “Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse” "Nursing Degree Guide". Web. 24 April 2013 (accessed).
  8. Staff, Nursing Degree Guide“Earning Your Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)” "Nursing Degree Guide". Web. 24 April 2013 (accessed).
  9. Staff,eHow. "The Average Cost of a Certified Nursing Assistant Program" "eHow". Web. 6 May 2013(accessed).
  10. 10.0 10.1 L, Gina. "How Much Does it Cost to Go to School to be an LPN?" "CollegeSurfing". Web. 26 December 2009 (last updated).
  11. Staff, SuccessDegrees. "The Cost of an Associates Degree in Nursing ADN" "SuccessDegrees". Web. 6 May 2013(accessed).
  12. Staff, RNPrograms. > "How Much Does an RN Program Cost to Finish?" "RNPrograms". Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).
  13. Staff, Payscale. "Registered Nurse (RN) Hourly Rate" "Payscale". Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).
  14. Staff, Payscale. "Registered Nurse (RN) Salary" "Payscale. Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).
  15. Salmon, Felix. "Income Distribution Charts of the Day, Middle-Class Edition" "Reuters". Web. 20 December 2011 (last updated).
  16. Staff, ALLP. "Registered Nurse Salary Guide" ALLP". Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).
  17. 17.0 17.1 Staff, WhatIsARegisteredNurse. "Registered Nurse Benefits" "WhatIsARegisteredNurse. Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).
  18. Staff, eHow. "Health Benefits for Registered Nurses" "eHow". Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).
  19. Staff, News Observer. [ 2012/04/08/1985627/demand-for-new-nurses-remains.html "Demand for Nurses Remains High, But Competition for Openings Increases"] "NewsObserver". Web. 8 April 2012 (last updated).
  20. 20.0 20.1 Staff, Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Registered Nurses" "Bureau of Labor Statistics". Web. 29 March 2012 (last updated).
  21. 21.0 21.1 Staff, NPR. “Sick Economy Means Nursing Jobs Harder to Find” “NPR”. Web.9 March 2011 (last updated).
  22. Staff, eHow. “Nurse Retirement Benefits” “eHow”. Web. 6 May 2013 (accessed).