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Registered Nurse - Training & Careers

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Registered-NurseAccording to federal statistics, registered nurses make up the largest single healthcare occupation in the country, with more than 2.3 million working RNs. Despite the number of current professionals, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that more new jobs for registered nurses are expected over the next decade than for any other single occupation. Trained RNs are needed now.

Registered nurses assess and record patient symptoms in hospitals, clinics, and private physicians' offices. They also work in public health facilities, in schools, in large businesses with internal clinics, and in the military. RNs assist during surgeries, administer medications, and also specialize in convalescence and rehabilitation. Hospital nurses are the largest group of working professionals, often assigned to the emergency room, intensive care, maternity, pediatrics, or surgery.

Three Pathways to RN Licensing and Success

The traditional major educational routes to registered nurse licensing and subsequent employment are a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or a diploma. All states have their own licensing requirements, but students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination in order to work as an RN.

The classic route is to obtain a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN). There are more than 700 BSN programs in the country and they typically take four years to complete. There are also accelerated BSN programs for people who have a bachelor’s or higher degree in another professional field.

Associate degree programs in nursing (ADN) take two to three years to complete and are offered at community and junior colleges. Diploma programs, which can last about 3 years, are usually administered by private hospitals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earned between $33,970 and $69,670 in 2002.