Registered Nurse Job Description Information

Registered Nurses (RN's) are nurses who have been educated and trained in this area of healthcare. They work in many settings such as hospitals, private offices, nursing homes, home health care and other places that require nurses. Registered nurses have many duties that they must perform.


Supervise Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN's)

  • RN's often are in the position to provide additional assistance and direction to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN's). They can assist them by answering questions and by demonstrating proper procedures.

Administer Medications

  • RN's are allowed to administer medication to their patients with the doctor's consent. Some medications cannot be given without a doctor's supervision. Specific directions must be followed accurately and in a timely manner.

Monitor Patient Progress

  • Nurses monitor their assigned patient's progress and document any changes. All changes must be recorded before their shifts end. They must be able to inform other nurses and doctors (on duty) of the patients' condition and progress.

Provide Emotional Support to Families

  • Nurses often give great support to the families of their patients. They are able to educate and demonstrate to families the proper procedures and precautions of caring for their loved ones after patients are discharged.

Perform Routine Care to Patients

  • RN's must exercise precaution at all times when caring for their patients. RN's usually establish a plan of care, or they may continue an existing one. They must follow this plan, with permission of a doctor, as closely as possible to give the best treatment to their patients.

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Registered Nurse Salary Information

RN salaries vary as much as the types of jobs RNs do. The salary for an RN depends upon several factors, including job duties, the region where the nurse works, experience, and current shortages. In some cases, it even depends on what time of day the nurse works. The range is from less than $40,000 annually to more than $100,000.


Types of RN Jobs

  • The most intense RN positions pay the highest salaries. For instance, an ICU nurse or one working in labor and delivery has a higher salary than an elementary school nurse. An emergency room RN in an urban hospital earns more than a home care nurse or one working in long-term care. An RN instructor earns a lower salary than a travel nurse.

Regional Differences

  • In California, the average base salary for an RN is $75,000. Indiana reports $55,000 according to The nearer an RN works to a large city, the higher the salary. RNs working in Boston, Massachusetts, earn $70,000 to $83,000 yearly as of May 2009, according to the same source. In Springfield, Massachusetts, RN salaries average $65,000. In the Southern states, Atlanta, Georgia, reports an average RN salary of $64,000. In Jackson, Mississippi, the average RN salary is $53,000. In Omaha, Nebraska, the average RN salary, according to, is about $60,000.

Nursing Shortages

  • Nursing shortages are prevalent in all areas of the country and in all areas of nursing. RNs are frequently offered "sign-on" bonuses of up to $10,000. Some facilities, in order to attract nurses, promise to pay student loans or give company cars. According to, the direst need is in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Although the average salaries are about $53,000 for staff nurses, RNs have been offered sign-on bonuses of as much as $50,000.

Education and Experience

  • It is easy for an RN to make more than $50,000 yearly with a minimum of a two-year associate degree. RNs with advanced degrees can earn more depending upon the setting they work in. However, experience is highly valued in the profession and RN salaries reflect that. It is possible for an RN with an associate degree and 10 years of specialized experience to make a higher salary than an entry-level master's prepared RN.

Advanced Practice RNs

  • RN salaries are substantially higher for those with additional education and training. Nurse Practitioners see and treat patients independently. Their annual salaries average more than $80,000, according to Certified Nurse Midwives specialize in women's health care and make as much as $90,000 annually or more. CRNAs, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, administer anesthesia to patients in surgery. Their annual salaries average more than $113,000.

Read more: The Salary Range of an RN |

How to Become a Registered Nurse

 A registered nurse, commonly known as an RN, is a person who has earned an Associate or Bachelor's Degree and passed a comprehensive licensing exam. RNs typically work in hospitals, emergency rooms, doctors offices, schools and health clinics. Some RNs even travel across the country as mobile nurses, gaining exposure to different hospital environments on a freelance basis.
  1. Sharpen your math and science skills in high school. In particular, you will need to focus on chemistry, biology, algebra and calculus.
  2. Take the SAT or ACT exam. Admittance to undergraduate schools can be highly competitive, so your test scores are very important.
  3. Try to maintain a grade point average above a 3.0 in college to set yourself up for desirable nursing programs.
  4. Take 2 years of a foreign language, 3 years of math and science and 4 years of English classes in your undergraduate college studies.
  5. Decide what kind of nursing certification you desire. There are different programs that have different requirements. You can earn an Associate Degree in about 2 years, while a Bachelor of Science in Nursing will take about 4. If you choose to pursue a BSN after you've earned an Associate Degree, expect that to take an additional 2 to 3 years.
  6. Pick a school you want to attend, recognizing that not many schools have nursing degree programs. Once you've completed university prerequisite courses, then you will apply for admittance into a nursing program.
  7. Pass the NCLEX exam. This is a comprehensive test that must be passed before you can earn your license. Check with the Board of Nursing in your state to find out what you have to do to sit for the NCLEX.
  8. Keep learning once you become a nurse. Many states require continuing education beyond your Associate or Bachelor's Degree in order to continue practicing nursing.