A Career as a Registered Nurse (RN)

Career Goal - Registered Nurse

By Courtney Turvold

Career Overview

Registered nurses care for patients who are ill or injured.

Most registered nurses (RNs) work as part of a team that includes doctors and therapists. Registered nurses work in a variety of settings such as a hospital nurse, an office nurse, a public health nurse, a nursing care facility nurse, a home health nurse, and other specialties.

Hospital nurses observe patients and carry out medical treatments. They use computerized equipment to monitor patients' vital signs and record observations and other medical data in patients' charts. Nurses may write and manage patient care plans. They explain to patients how to continue treatment after they go home.

Office nurses prepare patients for exams and check vital signs. They assist doctors with exams when requested. They draw blood and give injections. Office nurses may also perform routine lab tests and office work.

Public health nurses work in community settings to provide health care and first aid. They give shots and screenings such as blood pressure tests. Public health nurses develop and provide health education programs on topics such as nutrition and childcare. In addition, they refer patients to community agencies and other healthcare providers.

Nursing care facility nurses manage the health care of residents. They write care plans and supervise licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Home health nurses provide prescribed nursing care to patients in their own homes. They also instruct patients and their families how to perform necessary procedures.

Other specialties nurses can specialize in are

  • Addiction nursing
  • Cardiovascular nursing
  • Critical care nursing
  • Neonatology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Genetics
  • School nursing

With additional education, registered nurses can also work as nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives.

Career Skills and Interests

RN's need to

  • Communicate -Express ideas clearly when speaking or writing, listen to others, understand, and ask questions, and read and understand written information.
  • Reason and Problem Solve - Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, combine several pieces of information and draw conclusions. use reasoning to discover answers to problems, analyze ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses, develop rules or follow guidelines when arranging items, judge the costs and benefits of a possible action, identify problems and review information. Develop, review, and apply solutions make sense of information by studying it, concentrate and not be distracted while performing a task, remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures, and think of new ideas or original and creative ways to solve problems.
  • Use Math and Science - Add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly and correctly.
  • Manage Oneself, People, Time, and Things - Check how well one is learning or doing something, go back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information without becoming confused, and manage the time of self and others.
  • Work with People - Be aware of others' reactions and change behavior in relation to them, look for ways to help people, teach others how to do something using several methods, persuade others to approach things differently, and solve problems by bringing others together to discuss differences.
  • Work with Things - Test and inspect products, services, or processes. Evaluate quality or performance, and watch gauges, dials, and output to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Perceive and Visualize - Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in distracting material, and quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns

Career Working Conditions

  • Interpersonal Relationships - Have a high level of social contact. They work closely with patients, often deal with angry or unpleasant patients, are responsible for the health and safety of patients, are often placed in conflict situations, may be responsible for the work outcomes of practical nurses and aides, communicate with coworkers and patients daily by telephone or in person, work in a group or as part of a team, and communicate with coworkers and patients by e-mail or letters on a weekly basis.
  • Physical Work Conditions - Are exposed to diseases or infections on a daily basis. Always wear masks or rubber gloves to protect themselves and their patients from disease, usually work indoors, work very near patients and doctors. They come into physical contact with patients throughout the day, and usually wear a uniform or lab jacket.
  • Work Performance - Must be very exact in their work. Errors could seriously endanger the health and safety of patients, repeat the same tasks over and over, such as recording patients' medical information, make decisions on a daily basis that strongly impact patients. They rarely consult doctors before making a decision, are usually able to set their tasks for the day without consulting with a doctor, and must meet strict deadlines on a daily basis.
  • Hours/Travel

Career Wages and Outlook

  • In Minnesota the typical hourly wage is $33.96 and the typical yearly salary is $70,630
  • Wages vary by employer. For example, hospital nurses tend to earn more than nurses in doctors' offices.
  • Full-time registered nurses generally receive benefits. Typical benefits include paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. Many employers also offer child care, education benefits, and bonuses.

Career Related Occupations

The occupations listed below may have similar work duties, use similar skills, be in the same career ladder, have a similar level of education, or be related in another way.

Program Of Study - Registered Nursing

Program Overview

Registered nursing programs prepare people to work as RNs.

Registered nursing programs include topics such as:

  • Administering medication and treatments
  • Patient care
  • Assisting physicians
  • Health education

Concentrations - In registered nursing programs, students may be able to specialize in:

  • Occupational and environmental health nursing
  • Critical care nursing
  • Perioperative and surgical nursing
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Adult health nursing
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Maternal/child health and neonatal nursing

Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language. Most schools require that you pass certain courses before you can officially become a nursing major. Typically these courses are chemistry, human anatomy, statistics, biology, and nutrition. In addition, many schools require you to complete an official application to the nursing program. Admission to nursing programs is competitive, so you should make sure to get good grades.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

  • Advanced Biology courses
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Advanced Chemistry courses
  • Physics
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Probability and Statistics

Typical Course Work

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Adult Health and Illness
  • Biochemistry
  • Caring for Older
  • AdultsCommunity Care
  • Growth and Development
  • Health Assessment and Maintenance
  • Healthcare Systems
  • Human Anatomy
  • Mother, Infant, and Child Health
  • Mental Health and Illness
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacology
  • Physics
  • Reproductive Health
  • Statistics

Related Programs

  • Health Science Technology

Schools that Offer my Program of Study

Minnesota State University (MSU), Mankato

University of Minnesota (U of M), Twin Cities

Riverland Community College, Albert Lea

College Choice
Minnesota State University - Mankato

College Info

  • Size and Location - MSU, M is located in Mankato, Minnesota and there are about 13,650 undergraduate students that attend MSU, M.
  • Admission Requirements - Application for admission to the School of Nursing is a separate process and in addition to being admitted to the University. Admission is based upon the applicant's prenursing GPA and the applicant's composite score on the Evolve Reach Admission Assessment (A2) Examination. The Evolve Reach Admission Assessment Exam includes math, grammar, reading comprehension, vocabulary, anatomy & physiology, and chemistry and must be completed at the time of application. The applicant pool is ranked according to the applicant's prenursing GPA and also according to their composite score on the A2 exam and then the two ranks are averaged. The applicant pool is then finally ranked using the average ranking of the prenursing GPA and score on the A2 exam. The students with the highest rankings will be admitted.
  • College Expenses - In addition to the university tuition and fees, students who are admitted to the Basic Nursing Program for Spring 2013 and after will be assessed a program fee of $375 per semester
  • Financial Aid - Depends on family income, family size, and other various things. You must fill out an application.
  • Schloarships/Grants - Katharine Densford Dreves Research Grant, MNAF Research Grant, Clinical Practice Project in Memory of Linda Knauff, Cynthia Hunt-Lines Scholarship, MNAF Baccalaureate Scholarship, MNAF Graduate Degree Scholarship, Janky Foundation Scholarship
  • Housing - Lots of dorms, many apartments near by but they fill up fast
  • Activities - Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Hockey, Track and Field, Wrestling, Volleyball, Soccer, Softball, Sororities and Fraternities, Honorary and Professional Clubs, Multicultural and International Clubs, and Religious Clubs.

Informational Interview

Name of Company: Mayo Clinic Health System

Type of Company: Hospital

Questions about the Job:

  • What kinds of tasks do you do on a typical day or week? - I care for patients, administer pills, and help other nurses when they need it.
  • What types of tasks do you spend most of your time doing? - I mostly take care of patients.
  • What excites you most about this job? - I like helping people.
  • What are some difficult or frustrating parts of this career? - You could have to tell people that their loved ones have passed and you have to be okay with blood and needles.
  • I really like being around people. Do you do that type of work? - Yes! I am constantly around a lot of people, especially children.
  • What characteristics does a person in this job need to have? - You need to be friendly, quick, smart, and very precise.
  • Do you usually work independently or as part of a team? - I usually work as part of a team.
  • What types of decisions do you make? - Whether something would benefit a patient or not and whether something is safe or not.
  • How does your work fit in to the mission of the organization? - I care for patients which is what a big part of what the hospital does.
  • What types of advancement opportunities are available for any entry level worker in this area? - Once you've worked at your job for awhile you can become the head nurse.
  • I read that people getting sick is an issue in this occupation. Have you found that to be true? - If people don't follow the proper procedures then yes they could get sick.
  • Is this career changing? How? - Yes, because there are more safety procedures that you have to follow.

Questions about working conditions:

  • Does this career include or require travel? - It could depending on which hospital you work at but I don't have to travel.
  • Do you have any health concerns associated with your career? - you are around a lot of different diseases and could get sick if you don't follow all safety procedures.
  • How does this career affect your life style? - I have become more aware of all the germs around and I have learned what is good for you.

Questions about training:

  • How did you prepare for this career? - I did job shadowing and an internship.
  • How did you find this job? - I found this job through one of my parents friends.
  • Do you have any advice on how people interested in this career should prepare? - I would recommend that they job shadow and volunteer.
  • What type of entry-level job offers the most learning opportunities? - Registered Nursing.

Informational Interview Summary:

Please provide the following information in regards to your Informational Interview/Job Shadowing Experience.

  • Date of Interview/Job Shadow Experience.
  • Interview/Job Shadow Contact. Shelly Hanson
  • Name of Company. Mayo Clinic Health System
  • Type of Company.Health Clinic
  • Position. Registered Nurse

Briefly record your thoughts and feelings about the workplace and the person you just visited. - Everything was very professional and organized. This helped my decision on wanting to be a nurse.

What did you learn in the interview? - I learned that the hours are actually flexible and there are many different types of nurses.

What did you like? What didn't you like? - I liked how the workers were friendly but i didn't like the smell of all the cleaning products.

Did you uncover concerns or advantages to this occupation? Advantages is that there are flexible hours and a disadvantage is that you could work certain days that you don't want to work.

What advice did you receive? - they told me i should do job shadowing and volunteer

Did you discover another occupation to explore? - Not really this is what I've wanted to do for a long time.

How was the work environment? the environment was clean, friendly, and welcoming.

Do you think you would be happy in this occupation? - Yes, because I've wanted to do this for a long time.

Plans to Reach Your Goal

To reach my goal of becoming a Registered Nurse I will be

  • Job Shadowing
  • Holding a Part Time Job while in school
  • Volunteering
  • Doing More Informational Interviews
  • Doing an Internship

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