WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A CAREER AS A REGISTERED NURSE?
Registered nurses are the glue that keeps our hospitals and healthcare facilities together. A career as an RN is one of the most challenging and rewarding in the health care profession.
It requires the ability to connect with patients on an emotional level, consult with doctors about patient care, and administer vital medicines and treatments.
Along with providing and coordinating patient care, RNs:
- Educate patients about various health conditions
- Administer medicines and treatments
- Operate and monitor sophisticated medical equipment
- Assist in diagnostic tests and consult with doctors
- Facilitate after care and rehabilitations programs
- Provide emotional support to patients and their families.
The median annual wage for registered nurses was $65,470 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half of the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,040 and the top 10 percent earned more than $94,720.
In May 2012, the median annual wages for registered nurses in the top five industries in which they worked were as follows:
Hospitals; state, local, and private
Home health care services
Nursing and residential care facilities
Offices of physicians
Many employers offer flexible work schedules, childcare, educational benefits, and bonuses.
Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons.
Demand for healthcare services will increase because of the aging population, since older people typically have more medical problems than younger people. Nurses also will be needed to educate and to care for patients with various chronic conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity. In addition, the number of individuals who have access to healthcare services will increase, as a result of federal health insurance reform. More nurses will be needed to care for these patients.
The financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients as soon as possible may result in more people admitted to long-term care facilities, outpatient care centers, and greater need for home healthcare. Job growth is expected in facilities that provide long-term rehabilitation for stroke and head injury patients, as well as facilities that treat people with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, because many older people prefer to be treated at home or in residential care facilities, registered nurses will be in demand in those settings.
Growth is also expected to be faster than average in outpatient care centers where patients do not stay overnight, such as those that provide same-day chemotherapy, rehabilitation, and surgery. In addition, an increased number of procedures, as well as more sophisticated procedures previously done only in hospitals, are performed in ambulatory care settings and physicians’ offices.
Overall, job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be good. Generally, registered nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one. Employers may prefer candidates who have some related work experience.
Job opportunities should be good because of the need to replace workers who retire over the coming decade and because of the growing number of people with access to healthcare services.
Median wages (2013)
Projected growth (2012-2022)
Projected job openings (2012-2022)
Top industries (2012
$31.84 hourly, $66,220 annual
Faster than average (15% to 21%)