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RN is an abbreviation for registered nurse. An RN is a nurse that has completed a course of study and passed the proper examinations to become licensed and registered. Although there are more RNs than any other type of nurse in the U.S., there is still a great need for more registered nurses. This is often referred to as a nursing shortage.
The reason there is such a need for registered nurses is that they provide the greatest level of care for many patients. An RN not only provides specific types of care, but also gives advice and helps coordinate other health services for patients. A registered nurse may be in charge of other nursing personnel such as interns, techs and volunteers. He or she may also be responsible for a patient's overall case management, conferring with everyone from the patient to the primary care physician, as well as any therapists or specialists.
To become a registered nurse, a nursing student must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for RNs. Nursing students may become eligible to take the exam after receiving an Associate's Degree in some areas, although many go on to achieve a Baccalaureate Degree. An RN may also become an intern while earning his or her degree. Internship programs are available in many areas, offering the prospective RN pay and benefits comparable to those received by entry level nursing personnel.
For the RN, duties may include everything from taking a patient's temperature to dressing a wound or administering an IV. An RN may also perform triage in an emergency room setting in many cases, deciding which patients are in greatest need of immediate care. While RNs work in clinics, private practices, private homes and nursing homes, they are an imperative part of any hospital staff, helping care for patients in every aspect, from Emergency Care to Intensive Care.
Duties and job descriptions may vary for an RN depending on the setting in which he or she chooses to work. While overall requirements are dictated by national standards, state laws vary, as do prerequisites for certain nursing positions, including those that provide emergency or surgical care.