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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

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Duties

Registered nurses typically do the following:

  • Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
  • Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute to existing plans
  • Observe patients and record the observations
  • Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
  • Explain what to do at home after treatment

Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.

Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. For example, an oncology nurse may work with cancer patients or a geriatric nurse may work with elderly patients. Some registered nurses combine one or more areas of practice. For example, a pediatric oncology nurse works with children and teens who have cancer.

Many possibilities for working with specific patient groups exist. The following list includes just a few examples:

Addiction nurses care for patients who need help to overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs, and other substances.

Cardiovascular nurses care for patients with heart disease and people who have had heart surgery.

Critical care nurses work in intensive-care units in hospitals, providing care to patients with serious, complex, and acute illnesses and injuries that need very close monitoring and treatment.

Genetics nurses provide screening, counseling, and treatment for patients with genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.

Neonatology nurses take care of newborn babies.

Nephrology nurses care for patients who have kidney-related health issues stemming from diabetes, high blood pressure, substance abuse, or other causes.

Rehabilitation nurses care for patients with temporary or permanent disabilities.

Registered nurses may work to promote public health, by educating people on warning signs and symptoms of disease or managing chronic health conditions. They may also run health screenings, immunization clinics, blood drives, or other community outreach programs. Other nurses staff the health clinics in schools.

Some nurses do not work directly with patients, but they must still have an active registered nurse license. For example, they may work as nurse educators, healthcare consultants, public policy advisors, researchers, hospital administrators, salespeople for pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, or as medical writers and editors.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). They provide direct patient care in one of many nursing specialties, such as psychiatric-mental health or pediatrics. CNSs also provide indirect care, by working with other nurses and various other staff to improve the quality of care that patients receive. They often serve in leadership roles and may educate and advise other nursing staff. CNSs also may conduct research and may advocate for certain policies.

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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.

Education

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.

Advancement

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 jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Staff Nurse 6.0 years
Registered Nurse 5.7 years
Vascular Nurse 5.1 years
Obstetrical Nurse 4.9 years
Nurse Anesthetist 4.6 years
Neonatal Nurse 4.3 years
Nurse Clinician 4.3 years
Perinatal Nurse 4.2 years
Nurse Midwife 4.2 years
Scrub Nurse 4.2 years
Head Nurse 4.1 years
Industrial Nurse 4.0 years
Office Nurse 4.0 years
Ob/Gyn Nurse 4.0 years
Nurse Manager 3.9 years
Occupational Nurse 3.5 years
Trauma Nurse 3.5 years
Psychiatric Nurse 3.4 years
School Nurse 3.4 years
Oncology Nurse 3.4 years
Nurse Coordinator 3.4 years
Agency Nurse 3.4 years
Surgical Nurse 3.3 years
Nurse Case Manager 3.3 years
Nurse Educator 3.3 years
Pediatric Nurse 3.2 years
Circulating Nurse 3.2 years
Visiting Nurse 3.2 years
Nurse 3.1 years
Research Nurse 3.1 years
Forensic Nurse 3.0 years
Instructor Nurse 3.0 years
Field Nurse 3.0 years
Consultant Nurse 3.0 years
Practical Nurse 2.9 years
County Nurse 2.9 years
Step-Down Nurse 2.8 years
Veterinary Nurse 2.8 years
Nephrology Nurse 2.8 years
Special Duty Nurse 2.8 years
Triage Nurse 2.7 years
Telemetry Nurse 2.7 years
Clinical Educator 2.7 years
Nurse Liaison 2.7 years
Home Care Nurse 2.7 years
Home Health Nurse 2.7 years
General Duty Nurse 2.6 years
PRN 2.5 years
Nurse Recruiter 2.5 years
Informatics Nurse 2.4 years
Burn Center Nurse 2.4 years
Nurse Technician 2.2 years
Ward Nurse 2.2 years
Traveling Nurse 2.1 years
Maternity Nurse 1.9 years
Student Nurse 1.4 years
Nurse Extern 1.0 years
Top Employers Before
Nurse 8.2%
Head Nurse 1.7%
Top Employers After
Nurse 8.4%

Staff Nurse Demographics

Gender

Female

86.4%

Male

11.9%

Unknown

1.7%
Ethnicity

White

81.7%

Hispanic or Latino

9.1%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

1.5%

Black or African American

0.9%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

61.8%

French

7.4%

Tagalog

3.2%

Arabic

2.7%

Mandarin

2.5%

Chinese

2.5%

Korean

2.3%

Russian

2.1%

German

2.1%

Filipino

1.6%

Portuguese

1.6%

Hindi

1.5%

Cantonese

1.5%

Vietnamese

1.2%

Italian

1.2%

Japanese

1.2%

Swedish

1.1%

Urdu

1.0%

Polish

0.9%

Dakota

0.7%
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Staff Nurse Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

18.3%

Walden University

13.3%

Grand Canyon University

9.3%

Chamberlain College of Nursing

6.8%

Indiana Wesleyan University

5.0%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.3%

Excelsior College

4.3%

University of South Alabama

3.8%

South University

3.6%

Kaplan University

3.6%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

3.4%

Drexel University

3.2%

Western Governors University

3.1%

University of Cincinnati

2.8%

University of Pennsylvania

2.7%

Capella University

2.7%

Saint Louis University-

2.6%

Ohio University -

2.6%

New York University

2.5%

Liberty University

2.3%
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Majors

Nursing

83.3%

Business

2.6%

Family Practice Nursing

2.3%

Nursing Science

2.1%

Health Care Administration

1.7%

Education

1.3%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

1.0%

Management

0.8%

Psychology

0.7%

Public Health

0.7%

Nursing Assistants

0.6%

Clinical Psychology

0.6%

Elementary Education

0.4%

Health Sciences And Services

0.3%

Biology

0.3%

Liberal Arts

0.3%

Law

0.3%

Medical Technician

0.3%

General Studies

0.3%

Gerontology

0.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

32.4%

Masters

27.8%

Associate

20.3%

Other

10.5%

Doctorate

2.6%

Certificate

2.5%

Diploma

2.5%

License

1.2%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

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, 2015 $103,198
Staff Nurse Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Nov 26, 2015 $103,198
Staff Nurse St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center New York, NY Nov 26, 2014 $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 Oct 05, 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 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 Practitioner Vericare Management Inc. Fort Worth, TX Sep 19, 2013 $68,579
Staff Nurse Practitioner Vericare Management Inc. Dallas, TX Sep 18, 2013 $68,579
Staff Nurse Practiotioner Vericare Management Inc. Garland, TX Sep 19, 2013 $68,579
Staff Nurse Cranford Hall Nursing Home Cranford, NJ Oct 01, 2011 $60,736
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 -
$63,862
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

ChargeNurseEmergencyRNSurgeryICUTelemetryMed/SurgAdministerMedicationsTraumaPatientCarePlansDeliveryTriageHealthCareIntensiveCareVitalSignsCriticalCareOncologyPatientEducationIVAcuteCare

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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.

Top Staff Nurse Employers

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