A registered nurse is a healthcare professional involved in the practice of nursing through various processes along with other healthcare professionals. They work towards the recovery and care of the sick by using professional care. In this aspect a registered nurse is well above a licensed practical nurse. A registered nurse has a professional inclination in assessing, planning and evaluating nursing care of the sick and the injured.

Since the education a registered nurse receives much better education, they have greater scope of practice. In the United States, the Nurse Practice Act of the state in which the registered nurse is licensed determines the scope and limits of practice of a registered nurse. The set of laws may vary from state to state. Also the use of terms like nurse or nursing may differ in meaning. While in some states the term is exclusively used for registered nurses, in others it may also include vocational and licensed nurses. The Nursing Practice Act has explained in detail the rules and laws involved in nursing care.

A registered nurse has received more training than a licensed practical nurse and hence is assigned a supervisory role in hospitals. A registered nurse is ultimately responsible for then safety of the patients. A registered nurse also works for physicians, insurance companies, school districts, advocates, private industries, ambulatory surgery centers, fire departments etc. There are also some registered nurses who work independently while a few others are engaged in assisting and conducting research programs in the field of biology, human development, health care systems etc.

There are many ways to become a registered nurse in the U.S. The most widely chosen way is to become an associate of science in nursing. This two year college degree program is the most widely known initial preparation for obtaining a RN license in the U.S. Sometimes, the two year course may take three or four years incase several pre requisite courses are required.

The second way is to do a hospital diploma program which may take about three years to complete. In this the students are required to study between thirty to sixty hours of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, chemistry and microbiology initially and then move on to comprehensive nursing classes. Previously the majority of the RNs in the country were diploma holders.

The third option is to go for a four year bachelors program in nursing. The first two years of a BSN program is the same as that of a diploma or associate program. From the third year onwards students learn in detail various nursing courses. While the associate and diploma course are more practical oriented, the BSN program gives more emphasis on research and nursing theory. One can also go for Masters in nursing which is a comparatively new option. All the above courses must be accredited either by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

In order to get admitted into a nursing program one must have the following minimum requirements: SAT or ACT scare of 2.0 to 3.5 GPA, three year math, three year science, four year English and two year foreign language. The exact requirement may vary from school to school. Tuition fee may range between $4,000-$25,000 per year depending upon the course and the college or university selected.

The next step is to earn the RN license which is given after passing the NCLEX- RN examination. This comprehensive nursing test is administered separately by each states Board of Nursing and allows the passing students to practice as registered nurse in that state. Registration needs to be renewed by talking continuing education. Today there are more than three million RNs working in the United States making it the largest group of healthcare workers in the country. Even after admitting foreign nurses there are acute shortage in the field and the demand is ever increasing.