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What is an RN?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 17, 2024
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RN is an abbreviation for registered nurse. An RN is a nurse that has completed a course of study and passed the proper examinations to become licensed and registered. Although there are more RNs than any other type of nurse in the U.S., there is still a great need for more registered nurses. This is often referred to as a nursing shortage.

The reason there is such a need for registered nurses is that they provide the greatest level of care for many patients. An RN not only provides specific types of care, but also gives advice and helps coordinate other health services for patients. A registered nurse may be in charge of other nursing personnel such as interns, techs and volunteers. He or she may also be responsible for a patient's overall case management, conferring with everyone from the patient to the primary care physician, as well as any therapists or specialists.

To become a registered nurse, a nursing student must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for RNs. Nursing students may become eligible to take the exam after receiving an Associate's Degree in some areas, although many go on to achieve a Baccalaureate Degree. An RN may also become an intern while earning his or her degree. Internship programs are available in many areas, offering the prospective RN pay and benefits comparable to those received by entry level nursing personnel.

For the RN, duties may include everything from taking a patient's temperature to dressing a wound or administering an IV. An RN may also perform triage in an emergency room setting in many cases, deciding which patients are in greatest need of immediate care. While RNs work in clinics, private practices, private homes and nursing homes, they are an imperative part of any hospital staff, helping care for patients in every aspect, from Emergency Care to Intensive Care.

Duties and job descriptions may vary for an RN depending on the setting in which he or she chooses to work. While overall requirements are dictated by national standards, state laws vary, as do prerequisites for certain nursing positions, including those that provide emergency or surgical care.

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Discussion Comments
By anon334163 — On May 10, 2013

How much does an RN get paid? How much does a regular nurse get in a month or a week or a year, etc.?

By anon132930 — On Dec 08, 2010

What is bridge program? Who can take this program?

How long does the program take? I have BS in computer education from overseas. (i am a computer teacher) do i qualify for a program?

By anon112233 — On Sep 19, 2010

Being an RN is a difficult but rewarding job. I think anyone who decides they want to be a nurse should do it for the right reasons. The patient should always be kept at the forefront, the focus of your attention, and the pay comes later. Patients and we nurses who truly care about the patients know who's in it for money and who really cares.

By anon108460 — On Sep 02, 2010

how many years of college or uni does an aspiring RN need? and what courses in high school should one take that will help in this field?

By anon90282 — On Jun 15, 2010

I think that the RN is really good for some students like me. i really want to do this RN thing. i love helping people out a lot.

By anon87218 — On May 28, 2010

do you need an associate degree to be an RN? or a bachelor degree?

By anon74492 — On Apr 02, 2010

I think that if you want to go into a nursing job, it is good, but you have to do it because is something you want to not because is what pays more, or you are not going to like your job.

By anon69826 — On Mar 10, 2010

I want to go in for nursing but i don't really know what type of nurse to go in for. Should i go in for an RN or what? or which is paid more?

By anon66200 — On Feb 18, 2010

This is a really good source of information.

By anon62721 — On Jan 28, 2010

This article helped me with my project on careers as a sophomore. I want to be a RN and this has really helped me with information.

By anon61062 — On Jan 18, 2010

The best paid nurse is an RN. An LPN usually ends up working under an RN (if there is an RN available) and is paid less. An LPN isn't able to do as much as an RN due to training.

I have only ever seen one exception to this, and it was in a doctor's office where the LPN (who was still underpaid) was doing the work of an RN.

By anon49013 — On Oct 16, 2009

What are the qualifications for a medical assistant and the salary?

By anon42394 — On Aug 20, 2009

Well i have a question. I want to become a nurse but i don't know what type of nurse. Which kind is the best paid? Is it an RN?


By anon4242 — On Oct 09, 2007

This article helped me a lot for my senior project. Thanks to it, I got all the information I needed.

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