Registered Nurse (RN)
A nurse (registered nurse, RN) is an individual who has completed the requirements of a two or four year accredited educational program that meets prescribed standards of education and clinical practice. The nursing graduate is qualified to and to apply for licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN) and sit for the required NCLEX-RN examination. Nurses provide care to patients and families focusing on the promotion, maintenance, and/or restoration of health and well being. Nurses observe and assess patient and family needs; assist with testing; administer medications and treatments; implement treatment plans and monitor responses to those treatment plans; provide patient and family education; establish and implement discharge plans; and help both patients, families, and communities deal with healthcare issues. Nurses establish plans of care in collaboration with other members of a healthcare team. Nurses can be found in all areas of healthcare. The 2 year associate degree is the entry level nursing degree, usually awarded in a community college setting and focuses heavily on clinical skills. Traditionally, associate degree programs prepared nurses for staff positions in hospitals and other inpatient facilities. Today, associate degree nurses are found in all areas of healthcare. Many nurses use the degree as a stepping stone into higher education via RN to BSN or RN to MSN programs. The 4 year baccalaureate degree also provides the nurse with the clinical skills necessary to function in all types of health care organizations. In addition, the baccalaureate level nurse has the entry level research skills to participate in the nursing research carried on in Magnet organizations where evidence-based practice research is a requirement of the nurse’s role. Also, the baccalaureate nurse has been exposed to leadership and management, and community health curriculum, which prepares them for management roles in any healthcare facilities or community health organizations. The Nurse Practitioner, prepared at the Master’s or Clinical Doctorate level is educated for two or three years beyond the baccalaureate degree. They are prepared to be advanced practice nurses and primary healthcare providers. They diagnose, triage and treat the well population referring complex healthcare conditions to appropriate physician specialists. In most states, a nurse practitioner is independent healthcare providers. In some states they function under the supervision of a physician.