A Registered Nurse (RN) is a nurse who has graduated from a nursing program at a college or university and has passed a nationa licensing exam. Registered nurses help individuals, families, and groups to achieve health and prevent disease. They care for the sick and injured in hospitals and other health care facilities, physicians' offices, private homes, public health agencies, schools, camps, and industry. Some registered nurses are employed in private practice. A registered nurse's scope of practice is determined by the regional college or association, as well as by the government responsible for health care in the region. These bodies outline what is legal practice for registered nurses and what tasks they may or may not perform.\
The scope of practice of registered nurses is the extent to and limits of which an RN may practice. In the United States, these limits are determined by a set of laws known as the Nurse Practice Act of the state or territory in which an RN is licensed. Each state has its own laws, rules, and regulations governing nursing care. Usually the making of such rules and regulations is delegated to a state board of nursing which performs day-to-day administration of these rules, qualifies candidates for licensure, licenses nurses and nursing assistants, and makes decisions on nursing issues. It should be noted that in some states the terms "nurse" or "nursing" may only be used in conjunction with the practice of a Registered Nurse (RN) or licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN).
The scope of practice for a registered nurse is wider than for an LPN/LVN because of the level and content of education as well as what the Nurse Practice Act says about the respective roles of each.
RNs are not limited to employment as bedside nurses. Registered nurses are employed by physicians, attorneys, insurance companies. governmental agencies, community/public health agencies, private industry, school districts, ambulatory surgery centers, among others. Some registered nurses are independent consultants who work for themselves. while others work for large manufacturers or chemical companies.
Educational and Licensure Requirements
Associate Degree in Nursing
The most common initial nursing education is a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, Associate of Science in Nursing, Associate Degree in Nursing), a two year college degree degree referred to as an ADN. Some four-year colleges and universities also offer the ADN. Associate degree nursing programs have many prerequisite and co-requisite courses which ultimately stretch out the degree-acquiring process to about 3 years or greater.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The third method is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a four-year degree that also prepares nurses for graduate-level education. For the first two years in a BSN program, students usually obtain general education requirements and spend the remaining time in nursing courses. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees have many courses which stretches out the degree-acquiring process to over 4 years. Advocates for the ADN and diploma programs state that such programs have a on the job training approach to educating students, while the BSN is an academic degree that emphasizes research and nursing theory. However the BSN graduate has both more classroom and clinical hours of study in nursing than the ADN graduate. The BSN graduate is professionally degreed; and as such is called a professional nurse. However, some states require a specific amount of clinical experience that is the same for both BSN and ADN students. Nursing schools may or may not be accredited by either the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).