Nursing: Registered Nurse (RN)
Meet Janelle …
When she graduated high school, Janelle didn’t know exactly
what she wanted to do. “I was always great in math and science
class and I was interested in health care. When I had the opportunity
to shadow a physician during high school, I saw the nurses
in the hospital working with the patients much more often than the
doctors. Working one-on-one with patients was what I really wanted, so
becoming a registered nurse was a good choice.” Janelle enrolled in a twoyear
program at a local community college.
As a Registered Nurse (RN), Janelle is on the front lines of patient care.
Nurses not only provide care for the ill and injured, but they also help
prevent illness and promote good health. Registered nurses are
counselors, teachers, confidantes, managers and communicators working
closely with patients on a one-on-one basis. Some of their responsibilities
include diagnosis, therapy, patient support and administrative duties.
Nursing is a lot different than it was even ten years ago. “Nursing
technology is constantly evolving, so you’ve got to keep on the cutting
edge,” Janelle says.
Registered nurses usually work with a physician; however, their
independent judgment, evaluation and delivery of patient care are
crucial. “The patient’s health is depending on you, so you have to be at
your best,” Janelle says.
Registered nurses prepare patients for examination and assist the physician
during the examination and treatment. They also administer medications
and treatments prescribed by physicians. The nurse’s duties vary according
to the size and staffing of the facility. In a large, well-staffed hospital
with nurse aides, the nurse's duties may be almost exclusive to
patient treatment; but in a smaller institution with less support staff,
the nurse may also sterilize instruments, make beds, feed and bathe
patients and prepare rooms for occupancy. The experienced nurse
may also have supervisory responsibilities.
The field of nursing has a range of specialties. Therefore, nurses can
choose their area of focus, perhaps in community health, diabetes,
emergency room work, geriatric care, gynecology, neonatal care,
nephrology, intensive care, orthopedics, pediatrics, psychiatrics or
surgery, among other areas.
Janelle is enthusiastic about nursing. “I love the balance of working with
the latest technology and hands-on care. As an RN, I feel like I’m making
a difference in someone’s life each day — that’s important to me.”Back to top
Career Q and A …
Q: What would I earn?
A: The average annual salary for a
Registered Nurse in the Pittsburgh region
is about $43,000. Salary levels tend to be
higher for people with more education
Q: Where would I work?
A: As the general population ages and technology
advances, the need for highly
skilled nurses will continue to increase.
Nurses will be needed in hospitals, nursing
homes (long-term care facilities),
ambulatory care centers, physician
offices and clinics.
Q: What kind of training or experience would I need?
A: There are four educational pathways you
can take to become a registered nurse:
If you’re in high school, you should
take and do well in biology, chemistry,
mathematics and speech. If you’re
interested in the technical side of
nursing, you should also get a strong
foundation in physics and advanced
math. Some experts also suggest
courses in social studies, psychology
and a foreign language.
- A two year-year program at a community
college, resulting in an Associate
Degree of Applied Science in Nursing
- A two or three-year program at a
hospital, emphasizing clinical experience,
resulting in a Nursing Diploma.
- A four-year program at a college or
university, resulting in a Bachelor of
Science Degree in Nursing (BSN).
- A two-year second bachelors program at a
university (for those students who already
have a bachelors degree).
Q: How about licensure and specialization?
A: After you successfully complete any of
these programs, you must become
licensed by passing a comprehensive
You can also pursue a specialization to
gain more responsibility and earn a
higher responsibility. With more
training, you can become a nurse anesthetist,
a nurse midwife, or a nurse
practitioner. You could also advance to
medical administration. These positions
require at least a four-year degree, and
often they require a master’s degree, but
you would probably earn more than a
traditional RN. The average nurse
anesthetist, for example, earns about
$111,000 in the Pittsburgh region.
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Registered Nurse (RN) at a glance...
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|Type of Work
||Work with physicians as
primary caregiver for
patients, administer basic
treatment, health promotion
and disease prevention
||Acute facilities (such as hospitals) and non-acute facilities (such as nursing homes,
clinics, rehabilitation centers) all shifts
Bachelor’s Degree in
||Algebra, chemistry and biology with lab; an understanding of computers and technology very helpful
|Post Secondary Requirements
physiology, nutrition, other
select support courses
|Licensure or Certification
||Licensure via examination
||Preferred in hospitals and
other healthcare facilities
||Bachelor’s to advance to
assistant head nurse or head
nursing positions may
require advanced degree
|Average Annual Salary
||Short programs, competitive regional
benefits, tuition assistance
These places will help you prepare to be a Registered Nurse (RN), view listings.