Registered nurses (RNs) serve as a critical link between physicians and patients.
Whatever their specialty or work setting, these professionals coordinate and provide care for patients, give medical advice, and offer emotional support to patients and their families.
Nurses also educate patients about a wide variety of health conditions.
Most RNs work directly with patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health settings.
Additional Career Options
Those who specialize in a particular area of the medical field or obtain additional credentials might hold positions as nurse educators, medical writers, healthcare managers, consultants, researchers, or administrators. Some may also work as salespeople for pharmaceutical and medical supply companies.
Caring for patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities is an around-the-clock job. RNs in these settings typically work eight to 12-hour shifts during the weekdays, every other weekend, and on rotating holidays. Nurses in doctor’s offices usually have weekends and holidays off and work Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.
Registered nurses spend a considerable amount of time walking and standing, so physical stamina and endurance are essential. RNs should also be detail-oriented, compassionate, and able to perform well under pressure in fast-paced environments and stressful situations.
Patience, emotional stability, and excellent communication and critical thinking skills are crucial for nurses as well.
Daily duties for a registered nurse typically include the following:
- Recording the medical history and symptoms of patients
- Performing diagnostic tests and analyzing results
- Administering treatment and medication
- Operating and monitoring medical equipment
- Helping with patient follow-up and rehabilitation
In addition, RNs teach patients and their families how to manage their illnesses or injuries. They explain post-treatment home care needs such as diet, nutrition, exercise programs and self-administration of medication and physical therapy.
Education, Training and Certification
To become a registered nurse, hopefuls can obtain a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) or an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). Earning a BSN typically takes four years, while an ADN takes between two and three years to complete.
Courses for these degree programs include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology and other social and behavioral sciences.
Nursing programs also require supervised clinical experience in a hospital or other worksite. Clinicals provide a hands-on learning experience where students can apply the knowledge they have learned in class to real-world situations.
Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
A bachelor’s degree in nursing will better train you for moving up the ranks to administrative, research, consulting and teaching positions. A BSN program typically includes more extensive training in physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking.
Texas Board of Nursing
According to the Texas Board of Nursing, there are several nursing programs in Texas that aspiring RNs can choose from. Costs for these programs differ, depending on what Texas trade school, college, or university you choose to attend. Many offer tuition reimbursement or other financial aid to help students pay for their education.
Registered Nurse Requirements in Texas
Once you have completed a nursing program, the state of Texas requires that you take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to gain a Texas RN license. This certification exam determines whether test-takers have the competencies needed to safely and effectively perform the duties of a nurse.
Candidates for licensure must register for and schedule a time to take the exam on the Texas Board of Nursing website. Most industry professionals recommend taking the test immediately after graduating since those who wait more than six months are less likely to pass.
Texas Medical Jurisprudence Exam
You must also pass the Texas Medical Jurisprudence Examination to test your understanding of legal issues that affect nursing care.
To continue working in the medical field, RNs in Texas must renew their license every two years. Completing 20 contact hours of Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) and demonstrating competency in your chosen area of practice is essential when it comes to maintaining an active Texas RN license.
Medical facilities may have additional requirements for those looking for RN jobs in Texas. In most cases, applicants will need to pass a drug screening and a criminal background check in addition to submitting official transcripts from their nursing program and showing their current Texas RN license for verification.
How Much Does an RN Make in Texas?
Generally speaking, hourly wages for nurses in Texas depend on the type of medical facility you work in and how much nursing experience you have. The average RN salary in Texas also varies across different regions. For example, some of the average annual salaries for Texas nurses include:
- Austin: $81,435
- Dallas/Ft. Worth: $82,256
- El Paso: $69,236
- Houston: $83,894
- San Antonio: $78,872
Due to advances in medicine and a need to treat various illnesses and injuries, the demand for healthcare professionals, particularly registered nurses, will likely continue to rise.
As a result, qualified candidates looking to work in hospitals, research labs, and other medical facilities may have an easy time finding RN jobs in Texas.
Increase in Demand
According to research from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare professionals in the United States can expect to see a six-percent increase in the demand for licensed registered nurses between 2021 and 2031.
Technological advancements in the medical field, an increased emphasis on preventative care, and a growing elderly population all contribute to this predicted growth.
Qualified nurses might also consider pursuing roles in various clinics after earning credentials that let them specialize in neurology, pediatrics, cardiology, oncology, critical care, or other areas of the medical field.
Some Advice from the Inside
There is information that simply cannot be found on the internet or in a book. It is the valuable insight and advice that can be gained only by talking with someone who has gone through the steps necessary to become and held a position as a Registered Nurse.
Rosita Padilla, a self-described “late in life career changer” and registered nurse in Acute Care Trauma Services says, “Be sure that becoming a Registered Nurse is absolutely the career choice for you, because it does require a lot of time and energy to learn all that is required.” Having always had a passion to do something in the medical field, Padilla strongly recommends using every resource available to interact, research and reach out to medical personnel to gain as much insight as possible before making the decision to become an RN. Lori Wilson, a registered nurse for 13 years and a Critical Care Clinical Coordinator, agrees that if she were starting over again she would get all of the exposure she could to the healthcare field prior to starting nursing school. She suggests seeking out a position in a laboratory, pharmacy, or even a hospital. “There are lots of jobs that you can do in a hospital without a degree. Many of our Patient Care Techs have minimal experience and go on to nursing school or other healthcare field program.”
“Once in school, don’t just do the bare minimum to get good grades and pass the class. Go above and beyond the subject at hand to better prepare yourself for the hands-on clinical experience,” says Padilla. “In the summers during nursing school”, Wilson adds, “look for an internship at a hospital.” During an internship, a nursing student is paired with an experienced RN mentor. “The student should feel at ease, be comfortable and respect the RN that they will be working under. This person will teach the student a lot that the books will not,” says Padilla. Wilson adds, “You not only learn a great deal from working under a registered nurse, you gain hands-on experience with their supervision. Interning is a great way to learn how to actually be a nurse, something nursing school doesn’t teach that well. And if you can intern at a hospital with a promising job after graduation, you will already know the ins and outs of the hospital. After all, all hospitals have their own way of doing things.”
“Learning as much as you can and gaining experiences before you actually become a nurse will help you decide what kind of nurse you will want to be and where you will want to work. But do not fret if you still don’t know where to work after graduation. Nursing is flexible and you can change jobs until you find your forte,” says Wilson. Padilla adds that if a student already knows which field of nursing they want to work in after graduating, that they try to get into that field when looking for an internship. “If the field has not been decided upon yet, dabble in a little bit of everything until the fit feels right.”
Wilson shared that “being a nurse is a very rewarding, albeit exhausting profession. I will never regret my decision to become one. There are so many avenues that one can take in this profession that I think really anyone could do it.”
Padilla emphasizes that nursing students and RNs should “never be afraid to ask questions. We are taught to always have a questioning attitude and to go with that gut feeling. If your question does not get answered with one RN, go to the next and the next until your conscience has been satisfied. Knowledge is power, but remember that we never stop learning. Listen and learn with enthusiasm.”
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