When you have to go to the doctor or hospital you will likely interact with a registered nurse. These professionals are responsible for providing patient care, recording medical histories, providing public health information and communicating with the health care team. This article will provide an overview of a Registered Nurse job description.

Registered nurses work in a fast-paced, dynamic environment. After reading this article it should become clear the responsibilities that a registered nurse has and the skills needed to be a registered nurse. Learn how to become a registered nurse, if the field has a good job outlook, and what a typical work environment is.

Nurse comforting her patient.

What Do Registered Nurses Do?

A registered nurse job description covers much of what these professionals do. These professionals have a lot of variety in their day. Depending on their work environment they may be completing the first part of a medical appointment, checking on patients in the intensive care unit, taking care of the elderly in a nursing home, or serving as the nurse for an elementary school.

Due to the many places that registered nurses can work their hours are going to look very different. It is expected that many of them will have to work nights, weekends, rotating shifts, and holidays. Pay is rewarding for those who have to work on holidays.

Registered nurses need an associate’s degree at the minimum, but earning a bachelor’s degree can increase pay. According to Payscale.com the average yearly salary is $62,531. You can look at other good paying jobs that require an associate’s degree.

Registered Nurse Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

It is important to have an awareness of expected responsibilities of registered nurses and be able to communicate those responsibilities through a resume. The registered nurse job description should include these duties. Some of the more common responsibilities are listed below.

Registered Nurse Required Skills

  • Give patients their medication and treatments, including preparing amounts based on prescriptions.
  • Monitor a patient’s pain level and communicate this information to the medical team.
  • Collect patients’ medical history with an eye towards whole body medicine.
  • Work on a team to perform diagnostic and lab tests and analyze the results of those tests.
  • Exhibit compassion for patients and learn how to deliver negative news in a empathetic manner.
  • Provide initial consultations for patients and communicate with doctors so that the medical team has consistent information.
  • Educate patients and their families on necessary home care.

Stress management skills.Registered nurses work in an intense and often emotion-riddled environment. They must be able to separate their personal emotions from the job and have techniques to handle stress they could encounter on any given day. They could become stressed by patient behavior, communication, or at the diagnosis. Being able to cope with stress will help them be successful nurses.

Critical thinking skills.Working in the medical field is a complex and ill-structured environment. Patients have different conditions, respond to medications differently and have varying pain tolerance levels. Nurses need to be able to deduce to solve problems and meet the unique needs of every patient.

Mental strength skills.Being a nurse will test you in many ways. Nurses are physically, mentally, and emotionally tested. They need to have the fortitude, stamina, and stability to deal with situations that may be scary and sad or positive and happy. Avoiding extreme highs and lows will help a registered nurse to stay level-headed in their job.

Communication skills.Registered nurses have to listen and talk in many different situations and to people in different roles. They must be able to talk to patients with a caring and sympathetic tone, while still being stern in required care. They must also be able to talk clearly to the medical team about procedures the patient has completed or what the next nurse on the shift needs to know.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

As can be seen in the Registered Nurse job description, there are many paths to becoming a registered nurse. They can achieve a variety of degrees, can have varying levels of work experience, and can enter the field with or without experience.

These professionals must take a licensure exam to certify that they have the required knowledge to serve competently in the field. Each state has different requirements with regards to what needs to be done before a registered nurse can sit for their license.

Education & Training Requirements

Registered nurses can become a registered nurse by earning their associate’s or bachelor’s degree. They can also receive their certificate in nursing through an approved program. Degrees are typically offered through a college while the certificate is a program that a hospital will offer. The different degrees and certificate will lead to varying job opportunities. Registered nurses who want to have more leadership, research, or teaching positions will need to get their Bachelors of Science in nursing.

Once a registered nurse has completed their education program they need to take the National Council Licensure Examination. They need to apply for a license before sitting for this exam. This exam covers four aspects of nursing: safe environments, psychosocial integrity, health promotion and maintenance, and physiology integrity. These aspects are related to the RN job description. Each state has various rules and policies on when a nurse may sit for this exam.

Registered nurses absolutely have to take continuing education credits to keep their knowledge in the field current. This varies by state. Many of these professionals who originally got their certificate or associate’s degree will pursue a path called RN-BSN that takes them from a registered nurse to someone with their Bachelors of Science in nursing.

Work Experience

Registered nurses with a certificate, associates, or bachelors are able to get hired without any experience. However, hospitals will often require a bachelor’s degree to work in that environment. Individuals who are interested in working as registered nurses should gain experience in the health care field either as volunteers, health aides, or medical assistants to improve their ability to get a desirable position.

While there may be ample registered nursing jobs, there are not going to be ample jobs that are your dream job. Even though experience is not required to get a job, it is always a good idea to gain relevant or related experience to improve your resume.

Work Schedules

Registered nursing is the biggest career in the health care field. The vast majority of nurses (61%) will work in hospitals. However, they can also work in nursing homes, as home health care workers, in the government, in schools, or in universities doing research. Work schedules are completely dependent on where the nurse is working.

Nurses who work in hospitals or nursing homes will be expected to work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays as people will always need medical care.

The general shift for a registered nurse is either morning, afternoon, or the night shift. A typical rotation would be that a nurse would work from 7 AM to 3 PM, another nurse would work from 3 PM – 11 PM, and the third shift would work from 11 PM – 7 AM. These professionals will either work five 8 hour days, four 10 hour days, or three 12 hour days a week. All of these schedules are full-time. About 1 in 6 registered nurses will work part-time.

Career Prospects

Registered nurses are in a field where demand is only going to grow. There will be over 500,000 new positions that need filled, and 500,000 existing positions that will become vacant. Even though there are many nursing jobs overall, it may be competitive to get a desirable position in certain geographic areas or in different work environments. Registered nurses with their bachelors or work experience may have an easier time finding a position in these competitive markets.

Being a nurse is a rewarding position that has a good work/life balance, but it can be stressful at times and requires a person with physical and mental stamina. The median salary of registered nurses is around $58,000 dollars but this changes with experience and job location. Registered nurses have many opportunities for advancement. Work experience has a large impact on the salary received. The vast majority of registered nurses report medical, dental, and vision benefits with only 21% reporting that they receive no benefits.


Registered nurses are an invaluable asset to the health care profession. They experience a good job outlook, a higher than average salary, and variety in their work responsibilities and environment. These professionals have many paths to take to become a registered nurse and many advancement opportunities in their field.