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What do Registered Nurses (RNs) do?    

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RNs are a vital part of the health care team and often the first health care practitioners to assess the conditions of patients. Nursing combines the art of caring with the science of health care. Nurses focus their care on the whole patient, not just the health problem. They:

  • Make quick, life-or-death decisions
  • Understand a patient’s symptoms, treatment and danger signs
  • Coordinate care with other health care professionals
  • Guide patients to help them select from a variety of health care resources

The perks

  • Fulfilling—You get to make a difference every day
  • Intellectually stimulating—you are never bored!
  • You have an incredibly flexible schedule
  • Part timers are eligible for benefits

You’d be a good candidate if you are…

  • Intelligent, critical thinker
  • Self motivated
  • Empathetic
  • Assertive
  • Team player
  • Enthusiastic
  • Resourceful
  • Flexible and adaptable

Opportunities outside the hospital setting 

Nursing is one of the most diverse careers you can have. Nurses don’t just work in hospitals. They can work in many other settings you’ve probably never even considered. Here are just a few examples of other places nurses are in demand:

  • Insurance companies
  • Drug companies in sales or research and development
  • Colleges and universities as faculty
  • Forensics
  • Holistic health centers
  • Technology companies specializing in nursing informatics
  • Education, nursing unit management or hospital administration and many more

The benefits

  • Health care benefits
  • Retirement benefits—including a pension!
  • Paid-time off
  • Flexible schedules
  • Employee discounts
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Hospital-sponsored degree completer programs

The demand

  • California’s projected growth rate for nursing is 28.5%
  • Nursing is the nation’s largest health care occupation with over 2.7 million nurses
  • Jobs for nurses, especially RNs will grow faster than any other through 2012
  • Over one million new nurses will be needed by the year 2012

The pay 

Registered Nurse

  • Hourly pay $46 to $63
  • Annual Pay $97,00 to $131,000


  • There are two types of nursing programs:
  • A four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)  and
  • Two- or three-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs through community colleges.

Check out some of these local schools:

Associate’s Degree

  • City College of San Francisco
  • Contra Costa College
  • Los Medanos College
  • Merritt College
  • Solano College

Bachelor of Science Degree

  • California State University East Bay
  • Dominican University
  • Holy Names University
  • Samuel Merritt University
  • University of Phoenix

Getting your associate’s degree is a great place to start, but there is a high demand for nurses with bachelor’s degrees in nursing from accredited and BSN-approved nursing schools. In fact, you’ll see the words “BSN-preferred” on most of the jobs you apply for.

If you want to practice in an advanced specialty area, like being a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, midwife, nurse anesthetist or RN first assistant in the operating room, you’ll need a master’s degree. And to get the master’s degree, you’ll first need to have your BSN.

Pick the route that is best for you!  Many hospitals offer RN to BSN programs. Talk to your guidance counselor to pick the best option for you.

Want to learn more?