A Day in the Life of a Registered Nurse: How Difficult Is the Role?

A day in the life of a registered nurse (RN) might vary depending on where they work and what they specialize in, but there is one constant: the RN has to show up for work every day. 

If you’re considering becoming a registered nurse, it’s important to know what kind of work you’ll be doing and how difficult that job can be. This article will teach you about a typical RN’s day, as well as some jobs that may fit your skillset better than others. 

The main job of an RN is to be a patient care worker. 

RNs perform a variety of duties, all of which are designed to put the patient, who may or may not be in a hospital situation, at ease. 

There are many different jobs that nurses can have, and each has its own set of rules and protocols. Some tasks could include feeding patients, taking care of their wounds, helping them to the bathroom if necessary, and preparing them for procedures. 

Nurses will also be required to stay with their patients throughout procedures like getting blood drawn or going through medical tests. Another important job that RNs perform is taking care of other employees as well as patients.

A Typical Day as a Nurse

RNs usually work shifts, which can vary depending on where they work. For example, if they are working at a hospital and they have at least one patient, they will usually be there from 7 am to 7 pm. It is their job to make sure that patients are getting the treatment they need and their needs are being represented. 

During this time, the RN may have to room in with another nurse or an MD or PA due to space limitations at the hospital.


RNs can also be put on call, where they are called in to come in whenever they are needed. They can then work for an eight-hour period and get paid for that time. 

The working hours may not necessarily mean that RNs will be available 24/7 during this time. 

Sometimes, nurses may be required to work during the night or on a weekend because of emergencies or if a patient is sick and needs care at those times. 

In addition to showing up at the hospital every day, things like attending seminars or completing job training may be part of their daily routine as well.

The Role Changes Depending on the Time 

Since RNs typically have a rotating schedule, they may start their day at a different time every day. 

Some hospitals and medical centers are open 24 hours a day, so RNs may be called in unexpectedly if they are needed. 

Shifts on weekends may also be longer because of the additional time involved in caring for patients or working on staff meetings. 

Nurses may work only during the morning hours, which means that they will go home at night and can spend their evenings with family or friends. 

Working full-time as an RN means that there is no guarantee about when an employee can take off.

The Reality and Progression of Nursing Care 

In the United States, nurses have progressed from being just hospital employees to being independent workers who are often self-employed in order to provide their services. 

The job of a nurse has also expanded to include more skills as there is a greater demand for nurses in this field. 

Nurses can find work in other settings like clinics and physicians’ offices, where they may be called “clinical” nurses instead of “registered” ones. 

Nurses can also go on to get advanced degrees and become a nurse practitioner or certified registered nurse anesthetist.

Nursing Education and Training Requirements 

Before becoming a nurse, a prospective RN will need to get a college degree in nursing. 

One of the best ways to train is by completing the traditional “four-year” program, but getting a bachelor’s degree in another subject and then getting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing can be an option as well. 

Some pathways allow nurses to become more specialized, such as by becoming an RN midwife or becoming certified as a nurse practitioner. 

Since most nurses get their training through a four-year program at the graduate level, it is important to make sure that prospective students have the ability and desire to complete this rigorous training program before taking college courses for this field of study. 

It is also possible for nurses to do accelerated programs through places like Wilkes University, which gets students through the degree in 18 months, by doing online coursework. 

Courses that prospective RNs will need to complete include classes in chemistry, biology, nursing, and math. 

Students will also have to complete a class on ethics and health laws for nurses, as well as general psychology, so that they understand how to interact with patients and their families. 

Many people who are interested in becoming a registered nurse also get involved as a volunteer at their local hospital or hospice center so that they receive hands-on experience.

What Makes a Nurse’s Job So Hard? 

RNs are tasked with caring for their patients no matter what time of the day it is or where they are. 

They also have to make sure that they follow the guidelines and protocols that hospitals and clinics have set out so that they can treat their patients properly. 

In addition, nurses will also be responsible for keeping track of all of their patient’s records, which includes anything from lab results to how much weight a patient has lost. This can become a difficult task if a nurse has many patients. 

The lack of sleep that nurses experience is another cause for concern. 

This can be a big factor in how well RNs perform, as they need to be alert and vigilant every night in order to ensure that patients are safe and getting the right health care. 

It is not uncommon for nurses to work up to 80-hour weeks, which can take a toll on their physical health. 

Nurses also have to deal with often chaotic situations, such as when patients become combative or aggressive. 

The Positive Side of Nursing 

One of the biggest advantages that nurses have is the fact that they are capable of caring for anyone and everyone, which allows them to be really flexible with their schedule. 

Although most nurses can choose to move up and become more specialized in the field, they can also make their money working as a nurse practitioner or midwife. 

When they work as RNs or clinical nurses, they have greater flexibility in where they are able to work. 

Another plus is that nursing is a very desirable job with many people wanting to become RNs. As a result, the field is growing rapidly and there is always an opportunity to find employment as an RN. 

Nursing can be considered a very desirable job in today’s society. 

It offers excellent pay and benefits, opportunities for advancement and specialization, the flexibility of work hours and schedules, and good support from employers. 

Many people become nurses because they want to help people who are sick or injured and becoming a nurse can be one way that someone can give back after having been healthy their whole life and being able to take care of themselves. 

This profession offers unique rewards as well.

The Future of Nursing Careers – What’s Next? 

It is estimated that the registered nurse population in the U.S. will remain stable over the next five years. 

It is also projected that due to an aging population in the coming years, there could be a good amount of job opportunities for nurses who want to work as either a geriatric or family nurse practitioner. 

In addition, since people are living longer and there is an increasing trend of healthy lifestyle choices, it might mean that nurses may have to help care for larger numbers of patients at their facilities.


Nursing is a very rewarding profession that can provide a very stable career path. It also offers great job security to those who want to remain in this field in the future. Smaller and mid-sized hospitals will always be a part of the care environment for nurses, but there will be more opportunities for them to work in larger hospitals or other healthcare facilities as well. 

Some people may choose not to become nurses because they want to pursue other careers, but if nursing is what you want to do, then make sure that you prepare yourself properly so that you can have a successful career as an RN. 

If you have any questions about this profession or how it might differ from examining other career options, finding a registered nurse to talk to is a great way to go about your decision-making. 

Most nurses are willing and able to help you understand what it takes to become a registered nurse and answer any questions that you may have about your decisions.