The decision to become a registered nurse is a major career move. Choosing the school you would like to attend and the degree you would like to obtain are difficult enough, but once you're ready to enter the workforce, how do you know which specialization to choose or where to work? More importantly, how do you choose between the different nursing careers available to you?
Whether you choose to pursue an associate degree (ASN), a bachelor's degree (BSN) or a combined bachelor's and master's degree (BSN-MSN) for your nursing career, you have a variety of different nursing career options available to choose from as an RN. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest concentrations of registered nurses work in the following settings:
- general medical and surgical hospitals (private)
- physician's offices
- general medical and surgical hospitals (local)
- home health care services
- nursing care facilities
This means that there are different nursing careers available to registered nurses. How do you decide which nursing career is right for you?
Factors you should consider:
- The majority of registered nurses work in private or local general medical and surgical hospitals. Jobs within hospitals vary greatly and focus on anything from researching medical history to administering medication to health counseling. Specialties in this workplace are also highly varied and include work in departments such as pediatrics, anesthesia, orthopedics and surgery. Keep in mind that nurses in hospitals tend to work in rotating shifts. They may potentially work nights, weekends and holidays. They may also be on call. Similar hours should be expected for nurses working full-time for intensive home health care services and emergency support services.
- Alternatively, registered nurses who work for physician's offices, educational services, nursing care facilities and other health care locations that do not provide 24-hour care are more likely to work only during standard business hours.
The average annual salary for a registered nurse was $64,690 in 2010, as noted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salaries of RNs across all careers listed above, per year, were the following:
- RNs employed by private general medical and surgical hospitals earned $66,650 nationally
- RNs employed by physician's offices earned $62,880 nationally
- RNs employed by local general medical and surgical hospitals earned $62,690 nationally
- RNs employed by home health care services earned $60,690 nationally
- RNs employed by nursing care facilities earned $58,180 nationally
The job outlook for registered nurses is predicted to rise by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020, which would make job prospects for RNs highly promising, regardless of career choice. In particular, RN prospects may be excellent for hospital settings such as anesthesiology, geriatrics and neonatal care. By examining the details of salary, hours and job roles, you should be able to easily select the appropriate nursing career tailored to your life goals.
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