Registered Nurse Programs & Degrees

Registered Nurse Programs

The health care industry is undergoing significant changes thanks in large part to President Obama's health care law that was passed in 2010. As a result of this legislation, access to insurance, and by extension health care, has increased dramatically.

While this is a good thing for citizens, it also means that there is increased strain being put on the current generation of health care practitioners. This greater demand for care means that registered nurses now play a more important role than before in facilitating the smooth operation of clinical procedures and in managing doctor-patient interactions. 

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Registered nurses are an essential part of any health care facility, as they perform a wide array of critical roles. In addition to assisting doctors with medical procedures, they also work closely with patients to ensure comfort and quality of care. In this capacity, they can also act as a liaison between patients and doctors, and a resource to ensure that a provider's instructions have been understood. Aside from these patient-facing interactions, registered nurses also carry out a variety of administrative tasks to help ensure the hospital or clinic runs smoothly. Nurses play a key role in the proper functioning of the health care industry, and the profession is in demand. 

Are Online Registered Nurse Programs for You?

Here are some things to consider when choosing a registered nurse program:

There are multiple paths that you can take to become a registered nurse. The first step is to receive a degree in nursing. This can either be at the bachelor's degree level, or it can be an associate's degree in nursing. Some schools even offer a track where students who have enrolled in an associate's degree program can transition into a Bachelor of Science in nursing. 

In addition to the education requirements, nurses must be licensed in the state they wish to practice in. This licensure is typically administered by the state, and usually requires candidates to pass a licensure examination.

Registered Nurse Career Paths and Potential Salaries

Registered nurses have a variety of career options available to them, depending on what they want to focus their practice on and what environment they want to work in. 

Registered Nurse[i]

These professionals assist doctors and other care providers with the operations of hospitals, clinics or residential facilities. They work closely with patients to educate them on important health matters, they perform essential medical procedures such as diagnostic tests and inoculations and they also assist with billing, patient scheduling and other logistical details.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job growth through 2022: 19 percent (faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree or associate's degree

Community  Health Worker[ii]

Community health workers work within their communities, rather than in a specifically clinical setting, to educate populations about health issues and promote wellness. This is both a patient-facing and research-oriented position, as they collect data from community members and then collate statistics on essential health figures using that information.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job growth through 2022: 21 percent (faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Medical and Health Services Managers[iii]

Medical and health services managers play an administrative role in cataloging health information. They work to improve efficiency and quality in administering health treatments and manage the finances of the health care institution. They also must stay ahead of any changing health care legislation and ensure the organization is using appropriate technological tools.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job growth through 2022: 23 percent (much faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree