Registered Nurse Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Registered Nurse, or RN, is responsible for working with other healthcare professionals to help treat patients with various injuries, illnesses or disabilities. Their duties include communicating with Doctors and other Registered Nurses about patient needs, administering IVs and medications to aid their patients’ health and using medical equipment to monitor patients’ vital signs.

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Registered Nurse duties and responsibilities

The duties of an RN may vary depending on the work environment, but they generally include the following:

  • Observe and record patient behavior
  • Perform physical examinations and diagnostic tests
  • Collect patient health history
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families on treatment plans
  • Administer medication, change wound dressings and care for other treatment options
  • Read and interpret patient information, making treatment decisions when appropriate
  • Consult with supervisors and doctors to decide on the best treatment plan for patients
  • Direct and supervise nurses, nurse assistants and nurse aides
  • Research ways to improve healthcare processes and improve patient outcomes

What does a Registered Nurse do?

Registered Nurses typically work for hospitals, healthcare clinics, rehabilitation facilities or care homes to provide medical support to Doctors and their patients. They work closely with other Registered Nurses to divide care tasks, conduct health assessments and administer medication to their patients. Their job is to insert IVs, check their patients’ vital signs, give vaccinations and helping patients feel comfortable. They may also be responsible for assisting a patient’s loved ones to learn how to perform specific tasks like changing dressings or administering medications once the patient goes home.

Registered Nurse skills and qualifications

An RN needs to have a number of skills to be a great RN. Necessary skills include the following:

  • RNs need to be organized as they often care for a number of patients at the same time
  • A kind and compassionate RN will be considerate, sympathetic, non-judgemental and can comfort the patient.
  • A vital skill for an RNs is to be able to interact well with patients, coworkers and doctors. Communication skills are essential for good interaction.
  • Patience will help an RN to cope with anxiety, misunderstandings and help to make good decisions. 
  • Dedication will help an RN to keep improving their skills and be committed to the patients. 
  • An RN spends long hours on their feet, requiring stamina. The job also requires physical strength when lifting and helping patients. 
  • An RN must be able to analyze, review and judge different situations they face and take the right actions according to the situation. 

Registered Nurse salary expectations

A Registered Nurse makes an average of $33.85 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Registered Nurse education and training requirements

Candidates need to have earned the minimum of an associate degree in nursing, but  many RNs pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree. After graduating with a degree, a candidate must earn state licensure. To earn this licensure, a candidate takes the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Other licensure criteria may be required for nurses depending on their state. RNs usually need education credits to renew their licenses. Since RNs need different training for different work settings, they should have the right training for the position. 

Registered Nurse experience requirements

Required experience depends on the position and specific field in which you are advertising. For example, pediatrics may require 3+ years of nursing experience. 

Job description samples for similar positions

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Frequently asked questions about Registered Nurses

 

What is the difference between a Registered Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner?

Both Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners provide medical care to patients in various healthcare settings. However, they differ in their qualifications, job duties and level of seniority. For example, Registered Nurses typically earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing and pass the national licensing examination to become a Registered Nurse. In contrast, Nurse Practitioners typically need to earn at least a master’s degree in nursing, although they usually complete a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Due to their differences in education, Nurse Practitioners have more seniority and can diagnose conditions or prescribe medications, unlike Registered Nurses.

 

What are the daily duties of a Registered Nurse?

On a typical day, a Registered Nurse receives their patient assignments for the day and makes their rounds to check their patients’ conditions and make them comfortable. They work with other healthcare professionals to record a patient’s vital signs every few hours, administer vaccinations, change gauze and provide patients with medication. They help patients prepare to leave the facility by providing them with at-home care techniques. Registered Nurses also assist Doctors in stitching wounds, taking x-rays and managing patient files.

 

What qualities make a good Registered Nurse?

A good Registered Nurse has compassion for others, motivating them to provide personalized care to each of their patients. They are calm under pressure, which enables them to react quickly when a patient’s condition deteriorates. They also enjoy working as part of a team and are always willing to help their coworkers by covering their shifts or working with them to administer medical care. 

Further, a good Registered Nurse has excellent written and verbal communication skills. This is important as it enables them to communicate effectively with Doctors and other Nurses. It also ensures that they record medical data accurately.

 

Who does a Registered Nurse report to?

Registered Nurses who work in a hospital setting typically report directly to the Nurse Manager to receive patient assignments and implement procedural changes. In clinics, Registered Nurses usually report to the Senior Physician or Doctor to assist them in administering care to patients.

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