Registered Nurse (RN)

  • Registered Nurse (RN)

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN)


Nurses can specialize in their area of practice which include hospital, home, academic, government, business, industry, medical service, and the community at large. Nurses can obtain on-going education through masters degree or doctorate degree preparation.

  • Infection Control Nurse – distributes information to hospital personnel on communicable diseases and coordinates hospital infection control program.
  • Community Health Nurse – applies nursing skills in the community by instructing individuals and families about health education and disease prevention.
  • Public Health Nurse — applies knowledge from nursing, social science and public health to promote and protect the health of individuals, families and communities. (See also “Public Health Section”.)
  • School Nurse — contributes to the development of health plans and school health programs to protect and promote the health of students and persons who work with students.
  • Correctional/Jail Health Nurse — contributes to the development of health plans and programs to protect and promote the health of inmates and persons who work with inmates.
  • Occupational Health Nurse – applies nursing skills in the work environment by caring for and offering education to employees.
  • Nurse Practitioner – gives general care and treatment to patients and consults with physician on patient care. May specialize in particular area such as neonatal care.
  • Nurse Midwife – delivers babies and gives medical care and treatment to pregnant mothers under supervision of an obstetrician.
  • Nurse Anesthetist – administers anesthetics to patients as prescribed by an anesthesiologist.

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Nursing is a dynamic interpersonal goal-directed process that seeks to promote optimal health within the context of individuals, family, community and society. The Registered Nurse (RN) is educated to provide care to all individuals or groups that are sick or healthy. RNs help coordinate a patient’s care through patient education.
  • A Registered Nurse (RN) can be either an ADN (2-year) or a BSN (4-5 year)
  • RNs perform numerous duties including observing and assessing patients’ health and provide for patients physical, mental, and emotional needs. They are educated to perform a variety of clinical tasks, develop and carry out a patient’s plan of care, and educate patients on getting and staying healthy.
  • Nursing uses the nursing process, a problem solving approach to provide holistic care.
  • Nurses may work in a specific area including surgery, maternity, pediatrics, geriatrics, emergency room, intensive care, orthopedics or psychiatry. Specialty nursing areas may require additional training or education.
  • Nurses’ jobs are physically and emotionally challenging. They need to be physically active and able to provide patients with assurance and the time for listening to their needs.
  • Registered Nurses work in many different settings. These include offices, hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care centers, factories, fitness centers, and private homes. They also work for community and public health agencies and schools.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Registered Nurses must get a great deal of personal satisfaction out of working with and helping people.
  • They have many different kinds of job opportunities, increasing pay and benefits, and the opportunity to work flexible hours to meet family and personal needs.
  • There are also many career paths and opportunities for advancement.
  • Sometimes they dislike the pressure of the work, especially in emergency situations.
  • Nurses may also feel that they have more work responsibilities than their schedules allow them to complete.

Getting Started

  • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
  • Many technical college programs have a long delay for entry into the program and most will not allow you to even sign up unless you have all required prerequisite courses…so check what they are and TAKE them.
  • NTC requires chemistry and highly recommends algebra.
  • Helpful high school courses would include biology, chemistry and physics, anatomy & physiology, Medical Terminology, and psychology.
  • Students must graduate from and accredited Nursing school and receive either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), which usually takes 2 years OR a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN), which usually takes 4-5 years to complete.
  • Four-year colleges and universities offer Bachelor’s (BSN) programs.
  • Associate Degree (ADN) programs are usually offered in technical colleges. These two-year programs offer both general education and nursing experience.
  • All nursing education programs include classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience in hospitals and other health care facilities.
  • Curriculum might include: Nursing fundamentals, Nursing pharmacology, Nursing-health promotion, and Nursing management concepts.
  • Individuals who complete a Bachelor’s receive more training in communication, leadership, and critical thinking, all of which are becoming more important.
  • A pre-professional program in which a 2-year college partners with a 4-year college offering a BSN. UW-Marathon County (UWMC) has two options. One, students take classes at UWMC, followed by entrance into the UW-Eau Claire Nursing Program, located at St. Joseph Hospital in Marshfield. Two, through UW-Oshkosh online nursing classes and additional classes at UWMC ADNs can complete their Bachelor’s Degree; clinical experiences are set up in the student’s home communities.
  • In some states certification in a specialty is required in order to practice in that specialty.
  • Supervised clinical experience is provided in hospital departments such as Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Maternity, and Surgery.
  • A growing number of programs include clinical experience in Nursing Care Facilities, Public Health Departments, Home Health Agencies, and Ambulatory Clinics.
  • All states require periodic renewal of license, which may involve continuing education.

Educational Institutions

Alverno College
Bellin College 
Blackhawk Technical College
Bryant-Stratton College – Bayshore
Bryant-Stratton College – Wauwatosa
Cardinal Stritch University
Carroll University
Carthage College
Chippewa Valley Technical College
College of the Menominee Nation – Green Bay
College of the Menominee Nation – Keshena
Columbia College of Nursing
Concordia University
Edgewood College
Fox Valley Technical College
Gateway Technical College
Herzing University – Brookfield
Herzing University – Kenosha
Herzing University – Madison
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College
Lakeshore Technical College
Madison Area Technical College
Maranatha Baptist University
Marian University
Marquette University
Mid-State Technical College
Milwaukee Area Technical College
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Moraine Park Technical College – Beaver Dam
Moraine Park Technical College – Fond du Lac
Moraine Park Technical College – West Bend
Mount Mary College
Nicolet Area Technical College
Northcentral Technical College
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Rasmussen College – Appleton Campus
Rasmussen College – Green Bay Campus
Rasmussen College – Wausau Campus
Ripon College
Silver Lake College
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
St. Norbert College
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
University of Wisconsin – Madison
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
University of Wisconsin – Parkside
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Upper Iowa University – Blackhawk Center
Upper Iowa University – Elkhorn
Upper Iowa University – Madison
Upper Iowa University – Milwaukee
Upper Iowa University – Prairie du Chien
Upper Iowa University – Wausau
Viterbo University
Waukesha County Technical College 
Western Technical College
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – Ashland
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – New Richmond
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – Rice Lake
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – Superior
Wisconsin Lutheran College

  • In order to obtain a Nursing license, students must graduate from an accredited Nursing program and pass a national licensing examination called the NCLEX-RN. The National League of Nursing (NLN) accredits programs.
  • The NLN recognizes Baccalaureate Degree (BSN) and Associate Degree (ADN).
  • A high school diploma is required for entry into any of these programs.
  • One must first qualify as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) before entering a Nursing program.
  • Current CPR Certificate-Health Care Provider level is also a prerequisite.
  • Nurses may be licensed in more than one state, either by examination or by the endorsement of a license issued by another state.
  • The UW System has a program called Collaborative Nursing Program (CNP) that allows ADN Registered Nurses to complete the requirements to become a BSN, Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing. It is offered via the Internet

American Assisted Living Nurses Association
P.O. Box 10469
Napa, CA, 94581

American Association of Colleges of Nursing
One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 530
Washington, DC, 20036

American Health Care Association
1201 L St. NW
Washington, DC, 20005

American Hospital Association (AHA)
155 N. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL, 60606
312/422-3000 or 800/424-4301

American Nurses Association (ANA)
8515 Georgia Avenue, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD, 20910
301/628-5000 or 800/274-4ANA (4262)

American Psychiatric Nurses Association
3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 625
Falls Church, VA, 22042
571/533-1919 or 855/863-APNA (2762)

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
2000 L Street, NW, Suite 740
Washington, DC, 20036
202/261-2400 or 800/673-8499

Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations
Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing and New York University College of Nursing
433 First Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY, 10010
212/992 – 9416

Dermatology Nurses’ Association
435 N. Bennett St.
Southern Pines, NC, 28387

Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)
915 Lee St.
Des Plaines, IL, 60016-6569
800/900-9659 or 800/243-8362

Independent Nursing Services
25689 Kelly Road
Roseville, MI, 48066
586/771-4097 or 888/741-9878

Leading Age Wisconsin
204 South Hamilton Street
Madison, WI, 53703

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
5 Hanover Square, Suite 1401
New York, NY, 10004

National Association of School Nurses
1100 Wayne Ave., #925
Silver Spring, MD, 20910

National League for Nursing
2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Eighth Floor
Washington, DC, 20037

National Student Nurses’ Association
45 Main Street, Suite 606
Brooklyn , NY, 11201

Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association
613 Williamson Street, Suite 200
Madison, WI, 53703

Visiting Nurse Associations of America
2121 Crystal Dr., Suite 750
Arlington, VA, 22202
571/527-1520 or 888/866-8773

Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing
1400 E. Washington Ave., Room 112
Madison, WI, 53703
608/266-2112 or 877/617-1565

Wisconsin League for Nursing
PO Box 320892
Franklin, WI, 53132-6151

Wisconsin Nurses Association
6117 Monona Drive #1
Madison, WI, 53716
608/221-0383 or 800/362-3959

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2012 (Wisconsin): 57,270
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 2,751,000
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 3,190,300
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 16%
Expected Annual Openings: 108,840
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $64,095

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Registered Nurses usually work 40 hours a week although flexible hours in some locations may be available.
  • Can work days, pm’s, or night hours. May be required to rotate shifts.
  • Nurses also may share weekend and holiday hours, or come in when it is their turn to be on call.
  • Advancement opportunities are often broader for those who have a Bachelor’s (BSN) or Master’s Degree (MSN).
  • Registered Nurses, through work experience, specialization, and advanced degrees, become supervisors or Nurse administrators.
  • Some go into teaching or research or do advanced degrees to become nurse specialists or nurse practitioners.
  • A Bachelor’s Degree is often necessary for administrative positions and IS a prerequisite for admissions to a graduate nursing program in research, consulting, and teaching.
  • Many Registered Nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) later enter Bachelor’s programs (BSN) to prepare for a broader scope of Nursing practice. Often, they can find a Staff Nurse position and then take advantage of tuition reimbursements benefits to work towards a BSN by completing an RN-to-BSN program. See CNP program referred to above.
  • Accelerated BSN programs are also available for individuals who have a bachelor’s or higher degree in another field and who are interested in moving into Nursing. They last 12 to 18 months and provide the fastest route to a BSN for individuals who already hold a degree.
  • All four advance practice nursing specialties –-(1) Clinical Nurse Specialist, (2) Nurse Anesthetists, (3) Nurse Midwives, and (4) Nurse Practitioner require at least a Master’s Degree. Most programs last about 2 years and require a BSN degree. In Wisconsin one MUST have a BSN to go on for a Master’s Degree (MSN). Some programs require at least 1 to 2 years of clinical experience as an RN for admission. Upon completion of a program, most advanced practice nurses become nationally certified in their area of specialty.
  • Accelerated Master’s Degree programs in Nursing also are available to those holding Bachelor Degrees other than Nursing. These programs may combine 1 year of an accelerated BSN program with 2 years of graduate study.
  • The advanced nursing program option of Master’s Degree Nurse Practitioner is transitioning into the Doctor of Nursing (DNP).