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Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse


Being a Registered Nurse – The Basics


Registered nurses (RNs), regardless of specialty or work setting, perform basic duties that include treating patients, educating the patient and family members. RNs record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, help to perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.


Most RNs work as staff nurses, either in a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office.  In those settings they provide the support services and, increasingly, the primary care to patients that are seen in those settings.   That has been the traditional role for a registered nurse but in recent years, the profession of registered nurse has seen both specialization and extensive widening of the nursing role.


Specialties for the Registered Nurse


RNs may specialize by work setting or by type of care provided. For example, ambulatory care nurses treat patients with a variety of illnesses and injuries on an outpatient basis, either in physicians’ offices or in clinics. Some ambulatory care nurses are involved in tele-health, providing care and advice through electronic communications media such as videoconferencing or the internet. Critical care nurses work in critical or intensive care hospital units and provide care to patients with cardiovascular, respiratory, or pulmonary failure. Emergency nurses work in hospital emergency departments and treat patients with life-threatening conditions caused by accidents, heart attacks, and strokes 


Registered nurses may specialize by providing preventive and acute care in all health care settings to various segments of the population, including newborns (neonatology), children and adolescents (pediatrics), adults, and the elderly (gerontology or geriatrics).


The role of nurse practitioner has emerged in recent years as well.  These are registered nurses with additional training who function as primary care providers, seeing patients and providing treatment for a variety of ailments that may not need the attention of an M.D.  Many nurse practitioners are also licensed to prescribe medicines.

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