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What is a registered nurse?

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What is a Registered Nurse?

A registered nurse is a vital healthcare professional that is usually armed with a four year degree and has the most responsibility in providing direct patient care and staff management in a hospital or other treatment facility.

There is often some confusion about what is a registered nurse to people who are outside the healthcare profession. The word nurse is a catchall phrase that does not distinguish the types of nurses there are in the profession and the important educational and licensure credentials that go with being a registered nurse. It’s important to recognize the distinction especially if you are an aspiring student who wants to get into nursing and needs to distinguish the differences in types of nursing to determine your career path.

What is a Registered Nurse? Education and licensure

One of the key differentiation factors in what is a registered nurse is their degree of education and the license they obtain upon completion of that education. When you decide to become a registered nurse, the obvious education path is a four year college degree that will award you with a BSN degree. There are also hospital diploma programs that you can participate in which combine college coursework with practical training in nursing at the hospital. This used to be the most popular method of obtaining registered nursing credentials. Now, more people are gravitating towards the four year college route. Upon completion of training, nurses take the national NCLEX-RN exam, which upon passage, gives them the license and credentials to practice as a registered nurse.

What is a Registered Nurse? Career paths, concentrations

Registered nurses have so many career paths and specialties they can choose from depending on the level of post-graduate education they decide to pursue. While some registered nurses run wards and departments in hospitals, others go on to specialize in fields such as oncology, psychiatry, nurse anesthesiologist and patient education. Many registered nurses work for insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. Some specialize in midwifery and birth coaching. So when you ask yourself what is a registered nurse, you are really asking a loaded question. With so many career possibilities and with nursing being a really high in demand field, there is no one set career path for a registered nurse. There are several paths that you can choose if you decide to enter this exciting and diverse field

Other resources

United States Department of Laborcomplete statistics and career information regarding registered nurses

Registered Nurse– Information about career paths, education and day to day life of a registered nurse from

American Nurses Association– Information about registered nurses and advanced practice nursing


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