Registered Nurse Career Guide

registered nurse career

A major reason for choosing a registered nurse career is the variety of career options. Graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN exam can pursue specialties and job positions that align with their goals and interests. It’s a great career choice for people who enjoy a fast-paced work environment where no two days are the same.

Once you decide to become an RN, it’s important to choose the right nursing program for your registered nurse career path. So how do you know which nursing school is best for you? And how do you identify which RN career path works best for you? Let’s start by breaking down what the work of nursing is.

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What does a registered nurse do?

Nurses provide and coordinate care for patients in a variety of ways. No matter the work setting or specialty, the work of most registered nurses includes:

  • Giving medications and providing treatments
  • Educating patients and the public about various health conditions
  • Helping medical staff with diagnoses and treatment of patients
  • Prioritizing/triaging care
  • Maintaining accurate patient records
  • Delegation with CNAs and/or other medical staff members
  • Cleaning and sanitizing areas to prevent the spread of disease
  • Providing customer service and a listening ear to vulnerable people
  • Advocating for patients to find solutions and treatments to bring healing and health

No matter what specialty you choose, all nurses will need to learn a few key skills, such as:

  • Adaptability
  • Decision making under pressure
  • Active listening
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Managing multiple projects or high-stress situations

Where do registered nurses work?

When most people think of a nurse, they picture someone in scrubs with a clipboard in a hospital room. While this is a popular registered nurse career path, it’s not the only one. Hospital nurses of all specialties keep things in the hospital running smoothly. Besides patient care, they provide project management, customer service, organization, and teamwork.

They work with medical professionals across other hospital specialties. They provide information and seek solutions with doctors, families, social workers, and others. Patient care in hospitals is the most popular setting for registered nurses. But it’s not the only career path out there. Nurses also work in:

  • Education (in a hospital or at a college)
  • Administration
  • Home health & hospice
  • Private settings
  • Doctor’s Offices or Clinics

RN career paths you could pursue

Even within the hospital setting, there are a wide variety of specializations available to nurses such as:

  • Medical-Surgical Nurse: “Med Surg” is a popular career path especially for new RNs. It allows nurses to gain medical experience for a variety of health conditions. Med Surg nurses are the “jack-of-all-trades” which means they need to know about a lot of different illnesses and treatments. They also work with nurses at other specialties within the hospital.
  • NICU or Pediatric Nurse: This is a great registered nurse career path for people who love children and want to make a difference for young families. They work with children of all ages and with a variety of medical conditions and illnesses. You will need patience and an empathetic heart.
  • Obstetric Nurse: These nurses help bring new life into the world! They support people through pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum care.
  • Critical Care Nurse: This registered nursing career path is for people who are calm under pressure. You will need to make important decisions in intense situations. These nurses work in ICU or emergency departments. They will treat people with life-threatening conditions or severe injuries.
  • And more!

So how do you narrow down the best place for you? Consider your strengths and your interests. Next, read up on the different registered nursing career paths to see what calls out to you. Here are some examples:

  • If you are passionate about mentorship, an education setting may work best for you. Nurse educators teach new technologies and treatments to nurses and nursing students. You can also become a teacher at a nursing school program.
  • If you thrive in high-pressure situations, your nursing career path might include becoming an ER nurse. These registered nurses need to be able to delegate and make decisions with a clear head.
  • If you are a natural leader with attention to detail, you may enjoy becoming a nurse administrator.
  • If you enjoy project management and business, a Director of Nursing role may be right for you. The variety of options is a big reason people choose a registered nurse career path.

Career outlook

The industry is also growing nationwide. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 6% from 2022-2032. That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1

Education is required to be a registered nurse

To be a registered nurse, there are a few steps you should take.

  1. Research nursing school programs
  2. Enroll in a program
  3. Apply for state licensure
  4. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  5. Receive RN license

As you start your research, you will notice a variety of nursing school programs. It can be hard to know if you’re making the right decision for a nursing school program. Most schools offer academic counselors to help students figure out the right choice for them.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Accreditation: An accredited nursing school program ensures you’re getting the most for your time and money. Accreditation means the university or college program has been reviewed and approved by a third-party organization of nurses and/or educators.
  • The program length: An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) typically takes two years to complete. This is a great option for people eager to get their careers started. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) takes around four years to complete. Some choose this program if they plan to pursue management or other opportunities. It’s also possible to complete an ADN program and go back to school later to complete an RN to BSN program.

All nursing program coursework will include classroom lectures and hands-on clinical work. Students start by learning the basics in the classroom. This portion of the program is like the typical “college classroom” experience, with lectures, quizzes, and tests. You can learn the basics of nursing and the skills needed to pursue a registered nurse career path.

Get started on your RN career journey with Dorsey College!

The Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program at Dorsey College is a great fit for people who want to pursue a registered nurse career path in Michigan. The curriculum fulfills the educational requirements for licensure in the State of Michigan only. No educational determinations have been made for any other state, district, or US territory in regards to nursing licensure requirements.

Some of the courses offered include:

  • Fundamentals of Nursing
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Nutrition and Health
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Medical Surgical Nursing
  • Pharmacology for Nurses
  • Transition to RN Practice
  • Nursing for Childbearing Families
  • And more!

Are you ready to work to improve the lives and health of people in Michigan? Consider a registered nurse career!

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