Registered nurse

A deeper look into careers: Registered Nurse




Christina Crawford



For students undertaking a degree/certification in nursing, in the process of or transitioning to a university.

Teresa Johnson, 24, is a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She earned her M.A. in care and outcomes and nursing management from Pacific Lutheran University in 2011.

Nursing is a competitive field, with a huge range of specialization. The ability to cross-train and specialize increases in availability once landing a career in nursing.

U.S. News ranks registered nursing as the second-best job for 2013. A growth of 26 percent between 2010-20 is anticipated, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010, the median yearly salary for registered nurses was about $65,000

Johnson suggests nursing to college with students a genuine passion of working with people.

“You can’t do it for the money. Ultimately you’re working not just with the patients, but their families and the people who care about them. There’s a difference between technical skills and people skills, and you definitely need to have a combination of both in order to find success,” Johnson said. “That being said, nursing is a life-long career that could pay for student loans. Look for scholarships: school is not cheap!”

When going through the coursework, students should keep in mind that each course is like a sampling of different avenues in the field. The coursework is rigorous, so forming study groups among other nursing majors is key.

“Medical students are even more competitive than those in the nursing track. Forming a study group among peers, it can be more about surviving together than every person for themselves. Doing this helps provide a great support system,” Johnson said.

Studying for the National Council Licensure Examination is very important when wrapping up a registered nursing program. Washington state has more rigorous standards that most, and the passing rate requires at least a 50 percent. While this may seem like a low score for a test that involves risking future patients, the general requisite is that student’s won’t make severe mistakes that would threaten the lives of others.

Once passing the NCLEX, networking during the preceptorship period is very important. Johnson recommends finding a preceptorship based on interest, and discourages taking a clinical preceptorship in the emergency room.

“There are extremely high expectations and little to no margin for error. Doing a preceptorship in an emergency room is incredibly demanding, and as a student with no prior experience, could set you up for failure which puts you a year behind in rotation,” Johnson said.

Johnson found working as a young new RN among other RNs with 20 or 30 years of experience a little intimidating at first.

“Admit to what you don’t know, and own up to what you do. Eventually you will gain the trust and confidence of even your experienced colleagues,” Johnson said. “Even if I didn’t get a raise, it’s all worth it. If you’re an RN student, know that the nightmare eventually ends, and you really do reap what you sow.”

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Registered nurse

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