If you are looking for a flexible and fulfilling job, a career as a registered nurse could be for you. Registered nurses or RNs are at a patient's bedside caring for them. They prioritize, delegate, and use critical thinking skills to manage care. Outside the medical duties of an RN, RNs are present at important events in people's lives such as having a baby or having a surgical procedure. There are so many opportunities for RNs to specialize in an area of interest and even work outside traditional RN jobs. Learn more about the variety a career as a registered nurse has to offer.
Acute care nurses assist with time-sensitive and short-term illnesses and injuries. Accidents, serious chronic illnesses, and heart attacks are some of the situations acute care RNs may see and treat. Nurses must be able to react quickly under pressure, as the life of their patients hangs in the balance.
Critical care is similar to acute care in that RNs work with critically ill and injured patients. Critical care nursing usually takes place in the Intensive Care Units of the hospital in different areas like pediatrics and neuro. RNs carefully monitor changes in the patient’s condition and manage IV drips, ventilators, and other equipment. Critical care nurses are trained in emergent response and have to be able to manage emotions well.
A pediatric nurse works with babies, toddlers, children, and teens. Pediatric RNs may work in children's hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, and public health clinics. They may also work in the pediatric critical care unit, oncology unit, or neonatal taking care of children in critical condition. Pediatrics requires a lot of compassion and patience in caring for kids.
Post-surgical or post-op RNs are often the first face a person sees coming out of surgery. They help patients coming out of anesthesia, evaluate them, and make sure they safely regain consciousness. Their duties also include closely monitoring vital signs and administering medications.
An operating room nurse or an OR nurse assists with the care of the patient in the OR and throughout the surgical case. These nurses surgically prepare the patient and ensure all the supplies are ready and the equipment is functioning correctly. They manage the care and condition of the patient through every step of the surgical procedure alongside the anesthesiologist and provide emotional support to the patient and their family.
Working in the emergency room is a perfect new grad RN job. Emergency room nurses or ER nurses get well-rounded training because they have to be prepared for whatever comes through the door. They must be able to think and act quickly because they are working in crises. ER RNs treat patients with urgent mild to severe injuries and illnesses. ER nurses may be called upon to provide first aid, rapidly transfuse blood, and assist with setting broken bones. For RNs who crave the action and are up for the challenge, there is no better place to be than the ER.
Home healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. according to allnursingschools.com. Home health nurses visit patients in their homes to treat and manage their care. A lot of the patients they see are elderly, disabled, or have a chronic illness. The duties of a home health nurse include tending to wounds, ensuring safety and proper home care, and communicating with doctors and family members on the patient’s care plan. Home health is ideal for nurses who enjoy working independently and want a more flexible schedule.
Long Term Care
RNs working in long term care work with patients who have long term illnesses and disabilities. These nurses typically work with the elderly and disabled, similar to home health, except long term care nurses work in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. Long term care RNs see patients with diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes and give them medicine and treatment. Nurses working in long term care may also assist patients with daily functions such as dressing and eating.
According to Payscale, the avg. hourly rate for acute care nurses is $30.17 an hour. Nurse Journal reports acute care RN annual median salaries can range from $57,000 to $73,000 a year depending on the level of experience.
Critical care nursing jobs are one of the top 15 highest paying RN specialties, ranked by Nurses.com. The average salary for a nurse with a critical care certification is around $74,000 a year.
A nurse specializing in pediatrics can earn anywhere from $65,000-$80,000 a year according to Salary.com. Salaries depend on the geographic region, experience, skill level, and certifications. The U.S. Median salary for pediatric RNs is $71, 505.
Post-Surgical RNs sometimes referred to as post-anesthesia care unit nurses (PACU) average $32.31 an hour or $69,000 annually.
The average pay in the U.S. for an Operating Room nurse is $77,942 annually and $37 hourly. Salary.com states average annual salaries for OR RNs can range anywhere from $70,000 to $86,000.
An emergency room RN in the U.S. has an average annual salary of $75,787 according to Salary.com and can make $36 an hour.
The average pay for a home health nurse will vary depending on education and licensure because home health is not only limited to RNs but lower-level nurses as well. The average pay for an RN working in home care is $37 an hour or $76,696 annually. CNAs or LPNs working in home care avg $12 to $24 an hour.
Long Term Care
Salaries for RNs in long term care range between $65,000 and $81,000 a year. The median average salary in the U.S. is $72,749 or $35 an hour, falling in the middle range for nursing specialties.
To be a nurse in acute care you must have an RN license or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) degree. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses has two required certification options, a two-year and a five-year plan. Both plans have a certain number of hours an RN must complete working with acute to critically ill patients to become certified.
Critical care nurses have the same requirements as a specialty in acute care. You must have an RN license or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) license and complete either the two-year or five-year certification plan outlined by The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. There are different areas of specialization within critical care such as cardiac surgery and neonatal.
Similar to acute and critical care RN specialties, pediatric RNs require a license or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) degree. Nurses who want to specialize in pediatrics have the option to take and pass an examination by the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board to become certified in the field.
As with all nurse specialties, post-surgical RNs must have a registered license in the state they work in. From there, an RN can gain experience in post-surgical nursing and go after additional certification which requires 1,800 hours of clinical experience and passing an exam.
An operating room role is a great new grad RN job. To become an OR RN a nurse must have a license, achieved either through an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). However, most employers prefer a BSN. There are several certifications and educational courses an RN can take to further their expertise through the Competency & Credentials Institute (CCI).
As a licensed RN, nurses can start working in the ER right after they graduate and receive their licensure. After getting two years of experience in the emergency room, RNs can apply to get certification through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). The BCEN has certifications in trauma, pediatrics, and flight emergency nursing.
Certified nurse assistants (CNAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can work in home health as well as RNs. LPNs and RNs must have completed their programs, passed the NCLEX exam, and have their registration. CNAs can work in home health but cannot give medication. There is no required certification for home health. RNs who wish to specialize in home health can increase their education through higher education such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing.
Long Term Care
Positions in long term care require registered nurse licensure through an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Registered nurses can gain experience in long term care by working in a hospital or nursing home for a minimum of one year. There is no additional certification needed, but nurses can choose to advance their education through a master’s program.
What kinds of career paths can I pursue after completing an entry-level RN program?
The emergency room, operating room, and long-term specialties are entry-level friendly for new RN grads. Hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and home health agencies are great places to start looking for RN jobs because they hire new graduates.
What other kinds of jobs can I get with an RN degree?
Registered nurses can work in a variety of different settings using their skillset. Examples of jobs outside of a traditional nursing career include research, pharmaceutical sales, informatics, military, and consultancy.
What jobs can RN students get while still in school?
Nurses have the opportunity to work while in school and gain valuable hands-on experience. Students can work as CNAs, orderlies, transporters, aids, paramedics, clerical workers, and much more. Here is a list of jobs with descriptions and pay that nursing students can do.
What is a Per Diem RN?
Per diem is Latin for “by the day”. A nurse is hired for a shift when a need arises like filling in for people who go on vacation or during busy seasons such as cold and flu season. These shifts are very flexible. Nurses can choose when and how much they want to work.
What is a Travel RN?
A nurse may choose to do travel nursing, which is when nurses can work for a short period at different hospitals around the country to help with staffing needs. Travel nursing is a great way to gain a breadth of experience, earn more, and live temporarily in a new place. Learn more about how travel nursing works and how to get travel nursing jobs here.
What do I have to do to become a Travel Nurse?
Travel nurses must be RNs first. There is no other certification or additional education needed. RNs should have at least two years of experience working in a specialty before they do travel nursing. Nurses can then work with staffing agencies to get contracts. You have to be licensed in the state before you accept the contract.
What are my part-time RN job options?
A nurse has the option to work part-time (typically less than 30 hours a week) and still receive benefits. Working part-time gives nurses the flexibility to spend more time with their family, go back to school, or simply maintain a better work-life balance.
What jobs can an RN do from home?
There are many options for RNs who want to work from home. You can work in home health, case management, telephone triage, informatics, call center, medical writing, insurance, and more.
When should I start applying for an RN job?
You can start applying for jobs immediately, even if you are still in nursing school. Each hospital has different policies but most encourage nursing students to begin applying for full-time work in the last semester of nursing school. Some hospitals or medical centers may require you to have your license.
Where can I find RN jobs?
Prolink can assist you to find a job as a nurse. We source a variety of nursing and other jobs in the healthcare field. Here is a list of other sources to find nursing jobs in your area.