What Do Nurses Do?

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Written by Aislinn Twohig Marketing Campaign Manager, IntelyCare
African-American nurse with glasses and wearing navy blue scrubs.

If you’re interested in a healthcare career, there are myriad job titles across the industry that incorporate everything from technology and engineering to medicine and management. But one of the most popular career paths is that of a registered nurse (RN). What do nurses do, exactly? Let’s cover the essentials.

What Is an RN?

An RN is an individual who has fulfilled every educational and licensure requirement as detailed by the Board of Nursing. In terms of what do nurses do on a broad scale, registered nurses provide hands-on care in various settings, including long-term care facilities, nursing homes, prisons, hospitals, schools, homes, and other places.

Exactly What Does a Nurse Do?

The answer to “what does a registered nurse do” depends on a number of things. Registered nursing requires an individual to wear many hats. RNs can go from caring for patients and educating patients to delivering treatments and life-saving procedures.

Not all registered nurses carry out the same responsibilities because their duties often depend on their specialty, training, education, work setting, and experience. For example, what do RNs do in post-acute environments? Most often, registered nurse duties in such facilities involve being a direct caregiver for patients. RNs manage patients’ daily activities, control safety, and provide basic care. RNs also work closely with physicians to understand and learn more about the patients’ care plans.

However, some RN responsibilities are universal. The non-clinical and clinical duties of a nurse include:

  • Getting patients set for medical tests or treatments.
  • Making evaluations based on test results.
  • Administering treatment and medicine.
  • Registering vital signs, updating patient medical information, maintaining detailed and correct reports.
  • Consulting and working with supervising doctors and other healthcare professionals.
  • Educating patients and their families on how to handle conditions and symptoms.
  • Helping to create care plans for patients.
  • Making sure the appropriate medications are ordered.

It is also crucial for registered nurses to keep abreast of new technology and give patients the best care.

Where Do Nurses Work?

The majority of nurses in America are employed in state, local, and private hospitals. That said, registered nurses in the post-acute setting typically work in:

  • Assisted living facilities
  • Home hospice
  • Same-day surgery centers
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Healthcare services
  • Outpatient clinics

Best Cities for Nurses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the best cities for nurses, with the highest levels of employment for RNs in particular:

Check out all the RN jobs on IntelyCare for more insight as to where nurses can find work.

Wondering How to Become a Nurse?

Nursing is a highly regulated profession that involves strict licensing and educational requirements. Hence, you will need the following to become a practicing RN:

  • A nursing diploma, associate degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) at minimum.
  • Study, take, and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Get licensed as a registered nurse in your state.

To excel as a registered nurse, you must have excellent communication skills, advanced training, emotional intelligence, and critical-thinking skills. You must also be compassionate and perceptive of patient needs. Learn more about how to become a nurse.

What Are the Benefits of Working as an RN?

Job Options

What do RNs do when it’s time to research job prospects? Well, they have lots of options. Few careers other than nursing offer individuals the option to work in any country, state, or city. As a registered nurse, you can work in any healthcare work environment, during the day or at night, depending on your availability. You can also work per diem jobs and create your own flexible schedule.

Professional Development Opportunities

The nursing field is ever-growing, and there is always an opportunity to grow. You can get credentialed or certified in specialty areas that are of interest to you, which opens doors to new job titles. Plus, having lots of experience and training under your belt typically translates into a better salary.

You Get to Help People

What do nurses do that makes them so devoted to the profession? The care that registered nurses give patients can help improve the quality of — and sometimes even save — their lives. For example, some nurses monitor life-threatening changes in patients who are recovering from severe illness or trauma.

Registered Nurses Are Valued

RNs enjoy the trust and faith of the public, their patients, and the healthcare professionals they work with. Nurses are the first line of defense, and without them, a healthcare system simply can’t function.

What Is the Average Pay for an RN?

The region, state, city, and facility you work in — plus your years of experience — can impact your pay. The median annual salary for a registered nurse is $77,600. The highest 10% of RNs earn more than $120,250 per year.

Looking for More Opportunities as an RN?

What do nurses do if they require job flexibility? Good question. IntelyCare is the answer. Learn more about the many ways we can make it easier for you to create your own work schedule and manage your career. Get started today.