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Employment Options for Registered Nurses

Although primary care hospitals employ the most registered nurses (RNs) in the United States, many other healthcare facilities also need nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020, there were over 3 million registered nurses in the United States working in state, local and private hospitals; nursing and residential facilities; and other health care facilities.

Government Nursing Jobs

The government employs about 5 percent of all RNs in the country. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one of the largest sources of government nursing jobs in the country — it employs over 80,000 nurses (RNs, LPNs, etc.). Nurses working for the government, especially the VA, often report high rates of job satisfaction and a sense of job security. Government-employed nurses also tend to earn more, with a median annual salary of $96,694. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other research facilities also offer nursing jobs, such as nursing specialists, nurse practitioners and nurse clinicians.

Clinics and Other Small-Scale Healthcare Delivery

About 18 percent of all RNs work in physicians’ offices and home healthcare services. These nurses work as part of a team of physicians and other healthcare specialists or oversee licensed practical nurses, assistants and home health aides. Their median annual salary is $88,100.

Nurses in smaller practices often take on administrative roles in addition to patient care. One benefit of these nursing jobs is that they often follow a set schedule based on standard operating hours, as opposed to a shift schedule on a 24-hour system in a hospital.

Specialized Knowledge

Experienced RNs often specialize in a particular branch of medicine. For example, an addiction nurse cares for patients overcoming addiction to alcohol, drugs and other substances. Oncology nurses work solely with cancer patients, and geriatric nurses care for elderly patients.

RNs can also combine areas of practice, becoming a pediatric oncology nurse for instance (working with children and teens with cancer). Critical care nurses work in intensive-care units in hospitals and provide care to patients with a wide variety of illnesses and injuries that require very close monitoring and treatment.

Of all the nurses, specialized clinical nurse specialists (advanced practice RNs) working in health diagnoses and treatments are among the highest paid — earning a median annual wage of $109,992.

Moving Beyond the Hospital

Online RN to BSN programs are a great way for practicing nurses with an associate degree to advance their careers with the additional skills they need. These online courses offer working professionals the flexibility to pursue their education while continuing to work. Students can complete accelerated online RN to BSN programs in under two years.

Registered nurses promote public health, educate people on warning signs and symptoms of disease and manage chronic health conditions. Registered nurses also manage health screenings, immunization clinics, blood drives and other community outreach programs.

If you are interested in a job outside the hospital setting, consider improving your resume with a bachelor’s degree by enrolling in an online RN to BSN program. You can use these skills to manage a team, specialize in a branch of nursing or explore new kinds of nursing jobs like academic nurse writer, life care planner, nurse health coach or legal nurse consultant.

Learn more about the Arkansas State University online RN to BSN program.

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