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

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).