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Become A Nurse

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Working As A Nurse

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $64,171

    Average Salary

What Does A Nurse Do

A Nurse provides medical and nursing care to patients in a hospital. They take patient samples, pulses, temperatures, and blood pressures.

How To Become A Nurse

Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses also must be licensed.


In all nursing education programs, students take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and other social and behavioral sciences, as well as in liberal arts. BSN programs typically take 4 years to complete; ADN and diploma programs usually take 2 to 3 years to complete. All programs include supervised clinical experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs usually include additional education in the physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These programs also offer more clinical experience in nonhospital settings. A bachelor’s degree or higher is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.

Generally, licensed graduates of any of the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate’s, or diploma) qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. However, employers—particularly those in hospitals—may require a bachelor’s degree.

Many registered nurses with an ADN or diploma choose to go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program. There are also master’s degree programs in nursing, combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, and accelerated programs for those who wish to enter the nursing profession and already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) must earn a master’s degree in nursing and typically already have 1 or more years of work experience as an RN or in a related field. CNSs who conduct research typically need a doctoral degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, registered nurses must have a nursing license. To become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Other requirements for licensing vary by state. Each state’s board of nursing can give details. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Nurses may become certified through professional associations in specific areas, such as ambulatory care, gerontology, and pediatrics, among others. Although certification is usually voluntary, it demonstrates adherence to a higher standard, and some employers require it.

CNSs must satisfy additional state licensing requirements, such as earning specialty certifications. Contact state boards of nursing for specific requirements.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Registered nurses must be able to assess changes in the health status of patients, including determining when to take corrective action and when to make referrals.

Communication skills. Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and assess their health conditions. Nurses need to explain instructions, such as how to take medication, clearly. They must be able to work in teams with other health professionals and communicate the patients’ needs.

Compassion. Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when caring for patients.

Detail oriented. Registered nurses must be responsible and detail oriented because they must make sure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Emotional stability. Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to manage their emotions to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stresses.

Organizational skills. Nurses often work with multiple patients with various health needs. Organizational skills are critical to ensure that each patient is given appropriate care.

Physical stamina. Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as moving patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.


Most registered nurses begin as staff nurses in hospitals or community health settings. With experience, good performance, and continuous education, they can move to other settings or be promoted to positions with more responsibility.

In management, nurses can advance from assistant clinical nurse manager, charge nurse, or head nurse to more senior-level administrative roles, such as assistant director or director of nursing, vice president of nursing, or chief nursing officer. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions are requiring a graduate degree in nursing or health services administration. Administrative positions require leadership, communication skills, negotiation skills, and good judgment.

Some nurses move into the business side of healthcare. Their nursing expertise and experience on a healthcare team equip them to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based, and chronic care businesses. Employers—including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and managed care organizations, among others—need registered nurses for jobs in health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development, and quality assurance.

Some RNs choose to become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners, which, along with clinical nurse specialists, are types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs may provide primary and specialty care, and in many states they may prescribe medications.

Other nurses work as postsecondary teachers in colleges and universities.

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Real Nurse Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Nurse Practioner Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston, MA Aug 01, 2015 $138,674
Nurse Practioner Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston, MA Jan 08, 2015 $138,674
Nurse Trainer Bristol Hospice-California, LLC Merced, CA Dec 13, 2013 $115,500
Nurse Practictioner Reading Health System West Reading, PA Aug 12, 2013 $101,920
Nurse Laguna Elder Care, Inc. Laguna Niguel, CA Mar 23, 2016 $99,029 -
Nurse Practioner Central Florida Hospitalist Partners, Pa GA Apr 14, 2013 $98,000
Nurse Practioner Adjetey K LOMO, Pa, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 20, 2013 $93,600
Nurse Practioner AGI Medical PLLC New York, NY Aug 25, 2016 $93,000
Nurse Pracitioner Seongpan Physician, P.C. New York, NY Oct 01, 2015 $92,700
Nurse Pracitioner Seongpan Physician, P.C. New York, NY Jan 10, 2015 $92,700
Cardiothoracic or Nurse North Shore-LIJ Health System New York, NY Dec 01, 2012 $90,951
Nurse Practioner 8Th Avenue Anesthesia PLLC New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $90,000
Nurse Practioner Kelin Medical PC New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $89,900
Nurse Practioner Chippenham Family Medicine Richmond, VA Aug 01, 2013 $89,684
Nurse Americare New York, NY Sep 01, 2011 $72,000
Rehabilitation Nurse Palolo Chinese Home Urban Honolulu, HI Apr 01, 2013 $70,000
Nurse Elyrics Amazing Care One, LLC Takoma Park, MD Sep 01, 2013 $68,516
Heart Nurse Loma Linda University Medical Center Loma Linda, CA Aug 19, 2015 $68,028
Nurse Practioner North Point Internal Medicine, PC Alpharetta, GA Nov 01, 2011 $68,000 -
Managing Nurse VXL Medical Care P.C. NY Sep 01, 2015 $66,784
Nurse/Translator Boca Delray Cardiology Center Delray Beach, FL Oct 01, 2014 $62,527
Nurse/Translator Boca Delray Cardiology, Pa Delray Beach, FL Sep 01, 2014 $62,318 -
Restorative Nurse Oak Brook Healthcare & Rehab Centre Oak Brook, IL Sep 24, 2012 $62,275
Nurse Suprevisor Glen Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre Northbrook, IL Aug 13, 2015 $62,275
Restorative Nurse Oak Brook Healthcare & Rehab Centre Oak Brook, IL Sep 30, 2012 $62,275
Hemodialysis Nurse Health & Home Management, Inc. Skokie, IL Sep 15, 2012 $62,130
Hemodialysis Nurse Health & Home Management, Inc. Skokie, IL Sep 01, 2012 $62,130
Nurse Green Path Health Group Zion, IL Apr 20, 2012 $61,963

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Top Skills for A Nurse


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Top Nurse Skills

  1. Emergency Care
  2. Vital Signs
  3. Triage
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided patient care including assessments, medication administration, emergency care, documentation of health, and communication with staff and physicians
  • Assessed, monitored and documented patient progress, symptoms and vital signs on each visit.
  • Provide triage, nursing care, and evaluation to campers and staff for a variety of chronic and acute disease processes.
  • Worked in clinical areas at UCLA, setting up & taking patients to rooms for private exams.
  • Interpret and collaborative role of the professional nurse as a member of the multidisciplinary health care team.

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