What Are the Day-to-Day
Expectations of a Registered Nurse?

See also: Careers in Healthcare

Are you considering becoming a Registered Nurse? If so, you may well be wondering what the role, tasks, and daily responsibilities of a Registered Nurse entail, as well as what is expected on the job.

So, to learn more about the day-to-day expectations of a Registered Nurse, just read on!

Nurse talking to a patient in a hospital bed.

Learning about the Role of a Registered Nurse: Higher Education and Tertiary Qualifications

If you’re interested in becoming qualified as a Registered Nurse (or RN, for short) in the US, you may want to consider completing one of the many available Accelerated RN Programs online. Also commonly referred to as an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing or ABSN, these streamlined courses can fast-track you to a successful and rewarding career as an RN.

As part of an online ABSN course, nursing students complete several core study units - including pharmacology, pathophysiology, mental health nursing, medical surgical nursing, paediatrics, women’s health nursing, and community health nursing, just to name a few! From here, ABSN graduates can then branch off and specialise in other areas of nursing - such as neonatal nursing, geriatric nursing, oncology nursing, or surgical nursing, for instance.

Of course, like many other tertiary and higher education courses, for budding nursing students to be able to enrol in an online ABSN degree, there are some prerequisites. For example, prospective ABSN students need to have met a certain GPA (or Grade Point Average) requirement. They also need to be able to provide certain pieces of documentation, including higher education transcripts which prove the successful completion of prerequisite core units such as introductory science classes covering the foundations of chemistry, biology, anatomy, and physiology, for instance.  The best news is that for students who have already completed prior studies, recognition of prior learning (RPL) credits can often be applied to their ABSN degree.

On the Job: What to Expect from Your Role as a Registered Nurse

Before you graduate from your nursing course, you will need to gain work experience as a nurse to get the best idea of what the job entails. The most effective way to do this is to complete nursing placements. Indeed, nursing students are not just encouraged to complete placements, this is usually a core requirement of their course completion. That is to say, nursing students often must attend clinical placements before being awarded their qualification as an RN.

Typically, a clinical nursing placement will take place within a real-world hospital environment. This provides the budding RN with both practical experience, and also, realistic exposure to the career path before them. It is a formative time in a nursing student’s life, as it enables them to gain real insight into the job they have selected to pursue as their career. During a clinical placement, nursing students will be exposed to real-world medical, and emergency, healthcare situations and environments.

Career Opportunities: What Job Options are Available to Registered Nurses?

Once the nursing student has completed their clinical placement and graduated with their RN qualification, they will then be ready to launch their nursing career. Importantly, however, Registered Nurses have access to many different career paths. Some of these prospects include becoming, for example:

  • An Oncology Nurse

    Oncology nurses specialise in the treatment of cancer patients. As such, they are responsible for administering chemotherapy, and in monitoring and assessing the success of these treatments on their patients. They are also often required to provide an emotionally supportive caregiver role to terminally ill cancer patients and their loved ones.

  • A Geriatric Nurse

    Geriatric nurses are tasked with caring for older patients specifically. As well as assisting their patients with their daily hygiene needs - including bathing and dressing them - geriatric nurses are also responsible for monitoring both the physical health and the cognitive function of their elderly patients.

  • A Surgical Nurse

    Quite obviously, surgical nurses assist surgeons with surgical procedures. This includes preparing patients for surgery, as well as caring for them post-procedure. It also involves being present in the surgery theatre to support and assist the surgical team.

  • A Neonatal Nurse

    Neonatal nurses specialise in caring for and treating newborn infants and their parents. They are often based within a NICU (or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), where premature and unwell newborn babies are cared for by expert medical staff.

What Skills Can Be Gained from Being a Registered Nurse?

Naturally, as a varied and often quite stressful field, nursing is a great way to learn many soft skills that can be applied to other areas of your life. As you gain experience as a nurse, you will have many chances and opportunities to grow and develop on a personal level. The skills you can hone as a registered nurse include:

  • Empathy - Learning to understand people’s situations and understand what people must be going through at difficult times in their lives is a prerequisite for succeeding as a nurse. People need to feel cared for, and like their situations are being taken seriously, and for many, their nurses are the healthcare providers that are spending the most time with them to provide that.

  • Resilience - Nursing comes with more than its fair share of difficult situations. Stressful moments are part of the job, and a nurse takes on a considerable amount of responsibility for those in their care. Because of this, resilience is something that every nurse has to develop, allowing them to better handle the situations that they find themselves in.

  • Conflict Resolution - Few jobs require more teamwork and dedication to a common goal than the healthcare industry. By working within a hospital care unit, a nurse needs to be able to think clearly and resolve issues in difficult circumstances, and whilst interpersonal conflict can arise, knowing how to deal with that will be essential in your growth as a nurse.

  • Communication Skills - When it comes to patient care, ambiguity can lead to disasters. It’s therefore essential that nurses and doctors learn to speak clearly and provide instructions in a constructive way. Hospitals and care units have many different turning cogs in motion in order to work optimally, and whether you’re directing a team or simply asking for clarifications, you need to know how to communicate.

For people aspiring to a career path as a Registered Nurse, the best way to get an idea of what the day-to-day job entails is to gain exposure to real nursing environments. Of course, immersion in the study of a nursing qualification such as an online ABSN is also essential. As is, of course, completing clinical nursing placements in real-world hospital settings.

The good news? Once you have graduated and completed your placements, you will have a wide range of different and rewarding nursing career paths to choose from!

About the Author

Caitlyn Bell is an arts student whose experiences in life make her tougher than anyone else. She can lend you expert tips on diverse topics ranging from relationships to fashion, making money, health, and careers.