What Does A Registered Nurse Do?

What Does A Registered Nurse Do?

It is common for people to see registered nurses portrayed on television programs. People realize these are actors but often wonder what a registered nurse does in real life. These individuals have important responsibilities providing essential medical care for patients.

General Duties

There are certain duties a registered nurse (RN) will perform in most work environments, including:

  • Explaining and educating patients and their families about care and treatment plans.
  • Giving medications to patients and monitoring them for any side effects.
  • Recording and updating patients’ medical information, maintaining accurate and detailed reports, monitoring their vital signs and more…
  • Working with other members of a healthcare team to evaluate and implement a patient’s care plan.

RN holding a stethoscope


Work Environments

You will find RNs working in various healthcare settings. Their job duties can vary significantly depending on their working environment or specialty. There are some common work environments for an RN:


In a hospital, there are various areas RNs work including labor and delivery, cardiac care, pre and post-operative, nurse managers to name a few. When an RN works in a hospital environment, they never know exactly what they will experience which means it’s never boring. They may be doing regular rounds and suddenly be tasked with taking care of an emergency. They document care in a patient’s records, administer medication and change dressings, among other duties. Hospitals are in operation 24 hours a day. An RN will be expected to work day and night shifts and could work on holidays and weekends.

Critical Care

In this environment, an RN will be dealing with patients who have life-threatening illnesses and need constant care. These nurses could be in a neonatal intensive care unit as an NICU nurse, ICU nurse or trauma nurse. These nurses care for patients who may be dying. They educate families on the issues of life support. They also provide important injections and life-saving IVs. These are nurses who can maintain their focus in high-stress situations. They use their critical-thinking skills in an environment that is fast-paced and have advanced interpersonal and empathy skills.


Clinic work is based on scheduled visits. A nurse’s work schedule will depend on the number of patients visiting a clinic on any given day. They deal with patients who have non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Once a patient has arrived, a nurse will start the examination. They will check a patient’s weight, height and vital signs. A nurse will then obtain information about the patient’s illness or injury. This information will then be given to a physician. Once a patient has been seen by a physician, a nurse will then handle any follow-up procedures such as appointments with specialists, X-rays, vaccinations and more.


Hospice is a special program for patients who have a terminal illness and are dying. A nurse will be responsible for educating patients and families about medications and any side effects. They will also ensure all proper medications are ordered and the patient is comfortable and safe. It is a situation where nurses develop strong bonds with the patients and their loved ones.


Associate’s Degree in Nursing – This is a two-year program. Students will take a combination of liberal arts, nursing and science classes in addition to clinical training.

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing – This is a four-year program. It provides students with an expanded curriculum. It involves coursework in social sciences, health sciences, nursing and clinical training. This degree qualifies graduates for leadership and management positions.

Knowing what a registered nurse does helps people appreciate these medical professionals. They are an essential part of a health care system that requires them to develop a variety of skills. To learn more about a career as a registered nurse contact Florida National University at 855-429-1131 for more information.


Learn more about our Bachelors of Science in Nursing program:

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