How to Become a Registered Nurse - Essentials

How to Become a Registered Nurse

How to become a Registered Nurse

The Basics on How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)

Are you investigating how ;to become a Registered Nurse (RN)? Would you like to know the answer to what does a Registered Nurse do? Well, the main responsibility of a Registered Nurse is to evaluate patient health needs and create nursing care plans. As part of this process, they may record patients’ medical information and vital signs, monitor diet and physical activity, prepare patients for exams or treatments, operate medical equipment, administer medicines, and perform diagnostic tests. A Registered Nurse may also consult with other healthcare professionals on a patients’ care and manage other less-skilled healthcare professionals.

To become a registered nurse, one must complete some form of post-secondary education. Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BDN), an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must also be licensed. Many RNs with a ADN or diploma go back to school to complete a RN to BSN degree.[ii]

What are some challenges Registered Nurses face?

I am challenged almost every working day with explaining what nursing is (as opposed to the tasks that nurses do). This means debunking the pervasive societal myths about how we only “follow doctor’s orders” and are in nursing because we are “angels of mercy,” and not for anything so crass as money, and certainly not that we have extensive education and statutory autonomy. 

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- Wendie Howland, Legal Nurse Consultant at Howland Health Consulting

A Registered Nurse's Salary Potential

Average Registered Nurse Salary
[ABOVE] National Salary Averages for a Registered Nurse[iii]

Top States with the Highest Salary Averages[iv]

States Lowest 10th% Salary Highest 90th% Salary
California $63,670 $141,030
Alaska $61,720 $110,770
Hawaii $59,920 $114,640
Oregon $58,200 $105,710
Nevada $57,450 $105,570

How Do Your Skills Stack Up?

Registered Nurse duties

As reported by O*NET, these types of tasks are conducted every day or are important in this role – would you feel comfortable performing these tasks as part of the day to day life of a RN?[i]

What Will You Learn with an RN to Bachelor Science in Nursing Degree?

A RN to BSN degree may cover courses such as the following:

  • Building Expertise for Safe Patient Care
  • Management & Leadership
  • Transition to BSN Education
  • Community-Based Healthcare
  • Health Services in Society

RN to BSN degrees are designed for registered nurses who are looking to enhance their education to help take their careers to the next level. You may also study, in addition to general education courses, how to promote safety and quality in patient care; use sound clinical reasoning and judgement; develop and support professionalism and leadership; and contribute to the progression of the science of nursing. Graduates of RN to BSN programs may pursue roles as clinical nurses, management, or research positions.

Who are Some Famous Nurses in History?

Did you know that nursing as we know it is less than 150 years old in America? Not that long ago people thought it safer to tend to their illnesses at home. However there were some that pioneered a path for nurses and here's a few of them as listed on Health:How Stuff Works:

  • Florence Nightingale: During the Crimean war, her and her nurses tended to wounded British soldiers, where she worked towards improving hospital hygiene in an effort to reduce infections. It worked, and after the war, in 1860, she founded the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas' Hospital where she taught the importance of hygiene as well as patient care.
  • Clara Burton: Founded the American Red Cross in 1861, which was based on the International Red Cross relief organization, and led the group until 1904
  • Walt Whitman: While many know him as a famous poet, he was also a volunteer nurse during the Civil War, and visited more than 100,000 soldiers.
  • Mary Ezra Mahoney: The First African American Woman to complete nursing training and become a registered nurse. She later advocated for the rights of all black nurses and went on to co-found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908.

FAQs About How to Become a Registered Nurse

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Sources: [i] O*NET | [ii] bls.gov | [iii] bls.gov/oes | [iv] BLS Salary Data |  Job information sourced from O*NET