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Registered Nurse

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Registered Nurses are professional nurses who often supervise the tasks performed by LPNs, orderlies and nursing assistants. They provide direct care and make decisions regarding plans of care for individuals and groups of healthy, ill and injured people. They often have bachelor degrees or associate degrees in nursing, but in many states are not required to do so. Regardless of degree, they have many hours of clinical experience. They are the largest group of healthcare workers in the United States, numbering over 2.6 million. It is estimated that an additional 750,000 RNs will be needed by 2005 in the U.S. Much research has shown that RNs are the first-line defense of hospitalized patients against disability or death from infection, cardiopulmonary arrest, and other serious complications. Higher ratios of registered nurses to patients has been shown to decrease certain complications of illness including death in patients. Registered nurses are educators, managers, executives, therapists, intensive care experts, symptom managers, professional mentors, researchers and community members. In hospitals, registered nurses perform diverse roles such as writing policies, responding to emergencies, managing professional, technical and ancillary staff, determining budgets, performing strategic planning, and supervising construction projects.

Many nurses pursue voluntary specialty certification through professional organizations and certifying bodies. A registered nurse certified in critical care is a CCRN; in school nursing is a NCSN; in oncology the credential is OCN, and WOCN signifies certification in wound, continence and ostomy care, for example. Similar acronyms are used for certification in many other nursing specialties.

See also: nurse, nursing.

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