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Become A Staff Nurse

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Working As A Staff 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

  • $76,060

    Average Salary

What Does A Staff Nurse Do

A Staff Nurse evaluates assigned patients within a nursing home environment. They are responsible for planning, implementing, and documenting nursing care.

How To Become A Staff 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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Staff Nurse Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Tagalog

  • Arabic

  • Mandarin

  • Chinese

  • Korean

  • Russian

  • German

  • Filipino

  • Portuguese

  • Hindi

  • Cantonese

  • Vietnamese

  • Italian

  • Japanese

  • Swedish

  • Urdu

  • Polish

  • Dakota

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Staff Nurse Education

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Real Staff Nurse Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Staff Nurse II Sutter Health East Bay Region Berkeley, CA Oct 24, 2011 $145,631
Staff Nurse IV Stanford Hospital & Clinics Stanford, CA May 15, 2010 $119,606
Staff Nurse II Sutter Health/California Pacific Medical Center San Francisco, CA Jun 02, 2010 $111,968
Staff Nurse Westways Staffing Services Pleasanton, CA Aug 15, 2016 $106,850
Registered Nurse-Staff Nurse Westways Staffing Services Pleasanton, CA Jan 08, 2016 $106,850
Staff Nurse St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center New York, NY Nov 26, 2014 $103,198
Staff Nurse St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center New York, NY Nov 26, 2015 $103,198
Staff Nurse Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Nov 26, 2015 $103,198
Staff Nurse I Washington Hospital Healthcare System Fremont, CA Oct 12, 2010 $102,993
Staff Nurse I Washington Hospital Healthcare System Fremont, CA Sep 20, 2010 $102,993
Staff Nurse I Washington Hospital Healthcare System Fremont, CA Sep 22, 2010 $102,993
Staff Nurse I Washington Hospital Healthcare System Fremont, CA Sep 28, 2010 $102,993
Staff Nurse I Washington Hospital Healthcare System Fremont, CA Oct 05, 2010 $102,993
Staff Nurse St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital New York, NY Nov 19, 2010 $92,972
Staff Nurse-Cardiothoraic and Respiratory Westways Staffing Services Orange, CA Oct 01, 2015 $92,061
Staff Nurse St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital New York, NY Nov 24, 2010 $88,995
Staff Nurse St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center New York, NY Nov 25, 2012 $75,229
Staff Nurse The Brooklyn Hospital New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $74,485
Staff Nurse Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia, PA May 10, 2012 $73,734
Staff Nurse Mercy Medical Center Rockville Centre, NY Nov 23, 2009 $73,066
Staff Nurse Practiotioner Vericare Management Inc. Garland, TX Sep 19, 2013 $68,579
Staff Nurse St. Luke's Episcopal Health System Houston, TX Jul 16, 2012 $59,172
Staff Nurse Bexar County Hospital District San Antonio, TX Nov 02, 2015 $58,332 -
Staff Nurse Deborah Heart and Lung Center Browns Mills, NJ Oct 06, 2010 $56,099
Staff Nurse Bridgeway Care Center Bridgewater, NJ Oct 01, 2009 $55,243

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Top Skills for A Staff Nurse


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Top Staff Nurse Skills

  1. Charge Nurse
  2. Emergency
  3. RN
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Act as charge nurse in the absence of the regular charge person.
  • Staff RN in a busy 8 bed Level I Emergency Department staffed by 1 RN and a CNA
  • Provide complex patient care to high risk and premature newborns affected with varied medical and surgical conditions.
  • Developed knowledge and skill in various surgical specialties including Gynecologic, Orthopedic and General Surgery.
  • Worked 2 years on a medical floor and ICU at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

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