Becoming an RN: Where Can I Go?

Registered nurses (RNs) have a variety of roles in the health care industry. Their roles are ever-changing and evolving. Registered nurses are the face of patient care.

When the public envisions RNs in the workforce, the stereotypical RN is working in a hospital, at the patient’s bedside. They are administering medications, inserting IVs, pushing wheelchairs, taking care of hygiene needs, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and transporting patients to various diagnostic exams. The RN at the bedside is so much more than that; they are the advocate between the patient and the doctor, the patient’s voice when they cannot speak for themselves.

However, the RN in the workforce can work in various locations besides the hospital. The nurse often works in home care; these RNs take care of patients who are well enough to be outside of the hospital, but not well enough to care for themselves. They may need assistance with hygiene needs, drawing lab work, or administering medications. The home care RN may also provide hospice care to the patient who is terminally ill – these nurses care not only for the patient, but for the family as well.

The RN also works in various clinics, from family practice, to oncology, to wound care. He or she may also work from home as a telephonic triage nurse, fielding calls from worried mothers or elderly people with chronic diseases. They may even work as an instructor to future nurses.

An RN must work hard to keep up their licensure. Continuing education is required biannually; the amount of credits required is dependent on the state of residence. In addition, nurses often obtain credentials. For example, a nurse may become credentialed in their field of practice. A nurse working in home care can obtain home health nursing certification. A nurse working in case management may obtain nursing case management certification. A nursing manager may obtain a nurse executive certification. Obtaining credentials is a sign of respect in the nursing field and signifies that the nurse is passionate about the field they are employed.

Becoming an RN in the changing and sometimes scary field of healthcare involves direct patient care. It does not always mean nursing at the bedside, but it does mean caring extensively for the patient.