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What does a Registered Nurse do?

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Registered nurses' duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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Working as a Registered Nurse

Depending on their roles, qualifications, specialization and years of experience, a registered nurse may:

  • Assess patients' conditions
  • Record patients' medical histories and symptoms
  • Observe patients and record the observations
  • Administer patients' medicines and treatments
  • Set up plans for patients' care or contribute information to existing plans
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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How much does a Registered Nurse make in the United States?

Average base salary

Average $43.26
Low $27.92
High $67.04
$12,000per year
Non-cash benefit
View more benefits

The average salary for a registered nurse is $43.26 per hour in the United States and $12,000 overtime per year.315.6k salaries reported, updated at September 27, 2023

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Where can a Registered Nurse earn more?

Compare salaries for Registered Nurses in different locations
Explore Registered Nurse openings
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How much do similar professions get paid in United States?


Job openings

Average $39.27 per hour

Registered Nurse - Operating Room

Job openings

Average $70.80 per hour

Registered Nurse - Medical/Surgical

Job openings

Average $2,273 per week

Licensed Practical Nurse

Job openings

Average $32.58 per hour

Registered Nurse - Emergency Room

Job openings

Average $2,448 per week

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How do Registered Nurses rate their jobs?


Based on 43,156 reviews


Pros and cons

Written by RN (Current Employee) at Kaiser Permanente - Gaithersburg, MD – March 27, 2014

I love the patients I am able to work with here. A typical day includes patient teaching, coordinating appointments and procedures, and requesting pathology services. My coworkers are very supportive and friendly. Management is inexperienced and the department has expanded too quickly, which can often be overwhelming for managers. The most unpleasant part of my job is a physical environment that is cramped and shared by too many people, and not conducive to focusing and staying on-task. The hardest part of this job is trying to conform to a zero tolerance for individuality, and this can be a stifling and sometimes impossible standard to meet. I love supporting my patients through their cancer diagnosis and sequelae throughout their trial involvement, and I have a strong calling to work with patients facing potentially life-limiting illness.


Good benefits, competitive salary, challenging duties and interesting work


Lack of privacy, stifling and unrealistic corporate culture

cleveland clinic treats their employees well, I have enjoyed all of my positions as a bedside nurse at the cleveland clinic

Written by Registered Nurse (Former Employee) at Cleveland Clinic - Cleveland, OH – January 4, 2016

A typical day at work as a bedside nurse-received report, assessed patients, administered meds and treatments, communicated with MD's, reviewed results of labs and other diagnostic tests.

I learned to work as a team and to empathize with my patients.

Management was sometimes supportive but at times management could be too removed from direct patient care.

Most co-workers were good team members.

Too many critical events at once.

Successfully taking care of the patients and seeing a positive outcome.


good pay and benefits


worked night shift

Heart/lung transplant unit

Written by Registered nurse on heart/lung transplant unit (Current Employee) at Cleveland Clinic - Cleveland, OH – September 17, 2015

Working on the heart/lung transplant unit has taught me so much about medicine, and nursing. This unit teaches the RN how to communicate with doctors and physician assistants very well. It teaches the RN how to delegate, as RNs are working with licensed practical nurses and patient care nurse assistants. This is a very special unit. Many patients on the unit are waiting for transplant and you really get to know the patients and their families. This has been a great opportunity.


Great benifits


Pay grade too low

worked at sequoia hospital for 18 yrs

Written by RN Staff Nurse (Current Employee) at Dignity Health - Redwood City, CA – April 21, 2015

typical day currently is very fast paced, work well with co workers, we are in a very public arena, have to be careful about what we say, just because it can be perceived differently.
Our patients recieve very high quality care by very skilled personal

hardest part of the job is not getting positive feedback from management, seems like all we hear is how we could have done something better
most enjoyable .. my co workers




short staffed

High Stress, Fast Paced, Rewarding Patient Outcomes

Written by Registered Nurse (Former Employee) at Dignity Health - Grass Valley, CA – November 3, 2015

Twelve hours days, three days a week, demanding, incredible co-workers, long days, but four days off per week. Great pay and benefits. Loved my patients, and educating them and their families kept me going. Upper management was creating an atmosphere of hostility on a hospital wide level.


Pay, benefits, close to home, Incredible Co-Workers, 4 days off


Long Days, High Stress, Over worked staff, Poor Upper Management

Common questions about for a Registered Nurse

What is a 2-year nursing degree called?

A two-year nursing degree is called an associate degree in nursing (ADN).

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How many hours do registered nurses work?

Registered nurses (RNs) typically work in shifts or rotations that are 8, 10, or 12 hours long. Nurses that work 8-hour shifts work at least four days per week while a registered nurse who works 12-hour shifts may only work three days per week. Some employers may have voluntary or required overtime in addition to these shifts. When interviewing for a registered nurse position, it is a good idea to ask the employer what a typical RN schedule is like.

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Is becoming a registered nurse worth it?

Registered nurse has an above-average job outlook according to the Bureau of labor statistics and has an above-average median pay. Becoming a nurse is worth it when considering the stability of this career and positive long-term outlooks.

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Is being a registered nurse (RN) hard?

What are the requirements to become a registered nurse?

What's the difference between registered nurse and certified nursing assistant ?

How can I become a registered nurse from a certified nursing assistant?

What are the different types of registered nurses?

How long does it take to become a registered nurse (RN) from a certified nursing assistant (CNA)?

What is a differential in nursing?

What is a float pool in registered nursing?

What licenses are needed to become a registered nurse?

What are the next steps after registered nurse (RN)?

What are the skills needed to be a registered nurse?

Can you become a registered nurse online?

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