What Are RNs (Registered Nurses)?

What Are RNs (Registered Nurses)

Perhaps you’re considering becoming a nurse and want to have a deeper understanding of what being an RN entails. 

Is this the type of nurse you want to be?

Or perhaps you are looking for a healthcare provider and have come across the term ‘RN’.

Maybe you are wondering who they are, what they do, and if they’re qualified to offer you a particular service.  

Well, in this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about RNs. 

We’ll answer questions, such as:

  • What Are RNs (Registered Nurses)?

  • What Do RNs Do?

  • Where Do RNs Work?

  • What Is the Typical Work Schedule of an RN?

  • What Qualities Should RNs Have?

  • Do RNs Have Good and Viable Careers?

  • How Do I Become an RN?

  • What Is a Multi-State RN License? 

  • What Are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses?

  • Can RNs Advance Their Careers Without Becoming APRNs? 

  • How Much Do RNs Earn?

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it! 

What Are RNs (Registered Nurses)?

Registered nurses (RNs) are licensed medical professionals who provide and coordinate care for various kinds of patients in clinical or community settings. They also educate their patients or the public about various kinds of health conditions or diseases. 

They work closely with doctors and other healthcare providers and are also very hands-on with the patients. 

They are the backbone of the U.S. healthcare system. 

What Do RNs Do?

RNs perform a range of health-related tasks, depending on where they are working, what their positions are, and whether they have a specialty or not. 

Their work can also focus on clinical or administrative tasks. 

Some of the duties of nurses include: 

  • Getting patients ready for exams or treatments

  • Recording medical histories and symptoms

  • Assessing and prioritizing patient care needs

  • Helping to set up plans of care

  • Monitoring the patient’s condition and vital signs

  • Updating medical charts

  • Administering medicine and treatments according to the physician’s orders

  • Using and monitoring medical equipment

  • Teaching patients and their families how to manage conditions and give post-treatment care

  • Coordinating care between doctors and other healthcare professionals

  • Controlling safety and infection

  • Supervising LPNs, CNAs, and medical assistants

Where Do RNs Work?

RNs can work in so many different settings! They’re needed almost anywhere you can think of! 

Some examples include:

  • Hospitals

  • Doctor’s offices

  • Outpatient clinics 

  • Specialty clinics 

  • Government offices

  • Community centers

  • Nursing homes

  • Long-term care facilities

  • Private homes or home healthcare 

  • Prisons

  • Schools or the academe

  • Research centers 

  • Military 

  • Online platforms

  • Personal businesses 

However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top-five industries with the highest levels of employment of RNs are hospitals, offices of physicians, home healthcare services, outpatient care centers, and nursing care facilities. 

You can find this table on their website



Percent of industry employment

Hourly mean wage

Hourly mean wage

General Medical and Surgical Hospitals



$ 40.88

$ 85,020

Offices of Physicians

199, 130


$ 35.51

$ 73,860

Home Health Care Services

173, 790


$ 37. 59

$ 78,190

Outpatient Care Centers

147, 720


$ 44.74

$ 93,070

Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)

131, 320

$ 34.74
$ 72,260

What Is the Typical Work Schedule of an RN?

We’ve seen that nurses can work in many different types of settings. The setting affects the work schedule of the RN. 

Hospitals, nursing homes, or other long-term care facilities need to provide care for patients around-the-clock, which means the RNs also have shift work around the clock. 

They usually work 10-12 hours per shift, around 3-4 times a week, although this can be longer and more frequent depending on the availability of RNs. Shifts can also include holidays, weekends, and graveyard hours.

Nurses who work in schools, government offices, doctor’s offices, or outpatient clinics may have more normal weekday business schedules, although some clinics may also be open during the weekends.

What Qualities Should RNs Have?

RNs have to work closely with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals, often in sensitive, life-and-death situations. 

This means that nurses should have certain qualities and skills to perform their jobs well. 

This includes:

  • Empathy 

  • Integrity 

  • Reliability 

  • Critical thinking

  • Good communication 

  • Good teamwork 

  • Ability to think and perform well under pressure 

  • Ability to balance heavy workloads

Do RNs Have Good and Viable Careers?

Yes, they do!

Healthcare services are needed everywhere by almost everyone at multiple points in their lives. And wherever healthcare services are needed, RNs are usually needed. 

They form the backbone of the healthcare system.

This is also true because of the growing number of elderly people and people with chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. 

According to the BLS, the employment of nurses is expected to grow by 6% from 2021 to 2031. 

They project that there will be about 203, 200 job openings for RNS each year over the decade. 

How Do I Become an RN?

To become an RN, you first need to enroll in a nursing education program. You have two choices - an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

The ADN only takes two years to complete, while the BSN takes four years to complete. 

Although both degrees can qualify you to become an RN, BSN involves more extensive and in-depth nursing training. Some employers, such as hospitals and other specialty clinics or units, prefer to hire RNs who graduated with a BSN degree. 

After graduating from either program, you will need to take the NCLEX-RN exam. This is a national exam that evaluates if you have the entry-level competencies of a nurse. You need to pass this exam to become an RN.

Your state’s board of nursing will also have other requirements for you to become licensed, such as passing a criminal background check, submitting the transcript of records from your nursing program, paying an application fee, etc. 

Each state may have variations, so you’ll need to know your state’s specific requirements. 

You can read a more detailed article about how to become an RN here

You can also read about the specific requirements of your state on this website

What Is a Multi-State RN License?

Several states are part of the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). 

This compact allows RNs to have multi-state licenses. This means that their licenses from one NLC state will be recognized by another NLC state. 

RNs from one NLC state can practice as an RN in another NLC state without having to apply for a new license in that state.

You can read more about multi-state licenses and check what the NLC states are in this article. 

What Are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses?

You don’t have to stop at becoming an RN. You can always choose to advance your career!

One way of advancing your career is by becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). 

There are four main types of APRNs:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

  • Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP)

  • Certified Nurse Specialist (CNS) 

To become an APRN, you will need to take a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. 

You will also need to take a national exam and become nationally certified (although some states may not require this). 

Practicing as an APRN will also require an APRN license from your state. 

Can RNs Advance Their Careers Without Becoming APRNs? 

There are other ways to advance your career aside from becoming an APRN. 

You can do this by becoming specialized in a particular field, either through extensive experience in that field or through additional certifications. 

Some specializations you can look into include:

  • Burn care nurse

  • Cardiac nurse

  • Developmental disability nurse

  • Emergency room nurse

  • Geriatric nurse

  • Hospice nurse 

  • ICU nurse

  • Medical-surgical nurse 

  • Oncology nurse

  • And so much more!

You can read about all the different types of nurses in this article

How Much Do RNs Earn?

This is another important question as you consider if you want to become an RN. 

Although RNs have heavy workloads, they can also earn good salaries, especially the more they advance their careers. 

Median Annual Wage for RNs

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for registered nurses is $77,600, with a median hourly wage of $37.31. 




50% (Median)



Hourly Wage

$ 28.58

$ 29.71

$ 37.31

$ 46.91

$ 57.81

Annual Wage 
$ 59,450
$ 61,790
$ 77,600
$ 97,580
$ 120,250

Top Paying States for RNs

The states that have the highest annual mean wage for RNs are California, Hawaii, Oregon, D.C., and Alaska. 



Employment per thousnad jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage





$ 59.62






$ 51.22



$ 47.42

District of Columbia

$ 47.38




$ 46.74


Top Paying Industries

If you’re wondering which industries offer the highest pay, they are non-scheduled air transportation services, pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies, merchant wholesalers, federal executive branches, and office administrative services. 



Percent of industry employment

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

Nonscheduled Air Transport





Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing





Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods (4242 and 4246 only)





Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation)





Office Administrative Services





In Summary

We’ve seen what nurses are and what they do, as well as answered many questions relevant to what being an RN entails.

RNs are so important! They are the backbone of the healthcare system! 

They can have meaningful and well-compensated careers. 

We’re thankful for all the nurses out there! And if you’re planning to become a nurse, we’re cheering for you! 

We wish you all the best! 

Posts You May Like

September 28, 2023

September 27, 2023

September 27, 2023

September 26, 2023

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get in touch

0 of 350