The nursing profession is a subset of the general healthcare profession aimed at providing care within the ordering scope of physicians. For the past decade the profession has been in a general state of change as patient care evolves from hospitals to outpatient and primary care environments. Registered nurses (RN) are health care professional who work closely with physicians in the provision of care, education and support to patients as well as their family members (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). Their job description and responsibilities are partly determined by their specific employers.
RNs are entrusted with an assortment of responsibilities in the course of their shifts, generally they care for and educate patients on their conditions and are required to establish trust and build good rapport with patients and their family members. The scope of practice for registered nurses is outlined in the Nursing Practice Act, Business and Professions Code Section 2725 (Board Of Registered Nursing, 2011). In this article, the roles and functions of registered nurses are categorized into three: Independent Functions; here nurse roles are restricted to direct and indirect care services that guarantee safety, comfort, personal sanitation and safeguarding of patients as well as undertaking disease prevention and recuperative measures. Conduction of skin tests, immunization methods and handling of blood samples is also outlined in this sect.
Depended functions involve administering of medications therapies whereas Interdependent functions are those that authorize nurses to alter treatments in case of abnormal characteristics. The code of ethics for registered nurses encompass the ethical values expected of nurses and their obligation to individuals with health care needs and those getting care (Canadian Nurses Association, 2008). The code is aimed at helping nurses in ethical practices and guiding them whenever challenges related to ethics arise in their interactions with patients, families, communities and public health systems.
For eligibility to a career in nursing, an individual is required to have attained the age of 18 years and have a high school diploma. To qualify as a registered nurse, one is required to have undergone at least one of the following educational programs; Diploma programs, Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing (Registered Nurse (RN), 2014). All these programs cover courses in physiology, anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, psychology, liberal arts, and social and behavioral science, these programs can be obtained from any the following institutions; Alabama Southern Community College and Villanova University (Fulche).
The duration of studying these programs ranges from 2 to 4 years depending on the certificate taken and the institution offering the program. It takes one an average of 2 to 3 years to earn an Associate degree in Nursing from a Community college such as Alabama Southern Community College. A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Villanova takes 4 years to complete while an accredited Diploma in nursing takes 3 years and is usually offered from accredited hospitals. The cost of undertaking a nursing program takes an annual average cost of $2,272 for a community college and a total of $5,836 for a four-year program in a university (Fulche).
Before one can start practicing as a registered nurse, licensure is required. One is required to sit and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). Once one has passed the test, they are required to graduate from an accredited nursing school and posses clinical work exposure. Once this is achieved, they are issued with a license by the Board of Registered Nursing.
Currently the job availability for Registered nurses is low, according to the American society of nurses, over 40% of registered nurses who obtained licensure between Jan. 1 2009 to March 31, 2010 failed to get employed within 18 months of graduation (Biolchini, 2013). The growth trends of the profession are however encouraging, according data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses was projected to increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022 with those having Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing option expected to have the greatest opportunities (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014).
There are limited job advertisements for Registered nurses in publications such as the Sunday Herald, however as employment in the career is expected to grow significantly come 2022, it is expected that the number of job advertisements for registered nurses in daily publications will increase significantly. Experience is not required for employment of registered nurses since they graduate with a significant level of clinical exposure.
Their salaries and compensation vary depending on their levels of education, work experience, location and institutional affiliation. The starting salary for an average registered nurse is estimated at an average of $64,690 per year, experienced registered nurses who posses advanced educational level may earn over $80,000 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). Majority of registered nurses begin their careers as staff nurses, with experience and advanced education, they get promotion to higher ranks such as vice president and chief of nursing. Increased managerial-level positions however require advanced education level such as a graduate degree in nursing or health services administration (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014).
There are a number of professional organizations both at state and national level that registered nurses can align to. The American Nurses association (ANA) is one such organization that operates at a national level. This organization is responsible for advancing and protecting the nursing profession. Students can join ANA at a cost of $10 (ANA, 2014). The National Student Nurses Association provides mentorship towards development of future professional as well as facilitation of their entry into the job market. Nursing students can join NSNA at an annual fee of $30 (NSNA, 2013). There exist several professional organizations for registered nurses at state levels, these include; North Alabama Nurse practitioner association, Alaska Nurse Practitioner Association, Iowa Association of Nurse practitioners and many more in each of the 50 states. The admission fee for student registered nurse is usually subsidized mostly it is below $10.
Several journals on registered nurses and nursing activities exist, a few example include; The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics which is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1748-720X at an annual cost of $616 for an online or print copy and $710 for both copies. The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses journal is available online at http://www.aorn.org/ce/ at a cost of $370. Continuing education units is a necessary requirement for this profession. Competency in practice and lifelong learning are considered significant elements of the profession. Registered nurses are required to undertake 30 hours of CUE after every two years as a way of keeping their licenses active (Department of Consumer Affairs, 2013). Professional nurse organizations provide avenues such as conferences, webinars and continuing education programs to their members at discounted rates (ANA, 2014). Majority of the professional organizations provide their members with units approved by the national Credentialing Center’s Commission.
Reflection / Personal Career Plan
As an undergraduate student pursuing a course leading to a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, I see myself fitting in the career path of a registered nurse. Having undertaken most of the required courses for a registered nurse practitioner there are only a few steps that I need to cover before I fit into the profession. As part of my career plan, I intent to through the full course of four years of university education from which I will obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. Once this is accomplished, I intent to apply and sit for the NCLEX-RN exam through which I will be eligible for licensure. Since the profession requires a significant amount of clinical exposure, I have intentions of enrolling in an accredited nursing school, from which I will gain the experience and graduate as a qualified registered nurse.
My career objective is to provide healthcare to my community members and contribute positively in the wellbeing of ill persons and their families. This I intent to achieve by becoming a qualified registered nurse. My career goal is to have positive contribution to the nursing fraternity and help in reshaping and improving the profession. This I intent to achieve by joining professional registered nurse organization and seek scholarship opportunities to further my education level. Advancing my education is a strategy towards qualification for higher managerial levels in the profession as well as becoming a significant stakeholder. With advanced managerial roles as well as critical decision making abilities in the profession, I will be in a position to transform the profession with positive ideas.
ANA. (2014). Continuing Professional Development. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from American Nurses Association (ANA): http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/CertificationandAccreditation/Continuing-Professional-Development
Biolchini, A. (2013, January 14). 43 percent of newly licensed registered nurses can’t find jobs. The Ann Arbor News .
BOARD OF REGISTERED NURSING. (2011). AN EXPLANATION OF THE SCOPE OF RN PRACTICE. Sacramento: State of California: Department of Consumer Affairs.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014, January 8). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics : http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
Canadian Nurses Association. (2008). Ethical Practise: The Code of Practice for Registered Nurses. Ottawa: Canadian Nurses Association.
Department of Consumer Affairs. (2013). Continuing Education for License Renewal. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from California Board of registered Nursing: http://www.rn.ca.gov/licensees/ce-renewal.shtml
Fulche, R. Community Colleges. Washington, DC: American Association of Community Colleges.
NSNA. (2013). Membership. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from National Student Nurse Association (NSNA): http://www.nsna.org/default.aspx
Registered Nurse (RN). (2014, April 4). Retrieved April 5, 2014, from Explore Health Careers.org: http://explorehealthcareers.org/en/Career/21/Registered_Nurse_RN#Tab=Requirements