With the increasing demand for Registered Nurses (R.N.) in the United States, many students are now looking to nursing as a career choice. However, often times, students interested in nursing don't understand what the job entails. Many students have misconceptions about what being a nurse means and the requirements to become a nurse.

Recently graduated nurses will usually be hired as bedside nurses. Typically, bedside nurses provide direct care patients. This means feeding, bathing, dressing, moving, and changing dressings and diapers. Due to their constant contact with patients, bedside nurses play a crucial role in patient care. They are usually the first to observe changes in a patient's behavior or mental state. They also act as liaisons between patients and doctors, often being the first to alert doctors of any changes in a patient.

Not all nurses perform the same duties; however, there are some basic duties that all nurses share. Regardless of their specialization, all nurses have to care for patients, including administering medications, performing nursing assessments, analyzing test results, recording patient medical histories, and helping patients and their families manage their illness or injury.

Nurses can also specialize in specific fields ranging from work setting, type of care provided, specific disease or condition, treatment of particular organ or body system, and by providing care to specific population segments (i.e. neonatal, pediatric, geriatric).

In what area a nurse chooses to specialize often depends on personal preference or employer needs. Many times, nursing students don't know what specialization to select or even if they want to specialize. Fortunately, most nursing programs provide clinical rotations. This means students will work in a variety of settings where they will get an opportunity to experience various patient settings, injuries, and conditions before deciding on a specialization. Schools differ in their requirements and the settings where they have their clinical rotations. Therefore, it's crucial that prospective nursing students conduct research before selecting a program since clinical rotations are often the first time nursing students experience real-life nursing situations.

Those interested in pursuing nursing careers have a good future to look forward to. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing is the largest employer within the healthcare field, and with the increasing number of registered nurses retiring, the demand continues to grow. It's anticipated that employment for Registered Nurses will increase at least 27% through 2014. Job opportunities abound for Registered Nurses, and it can be an incredibly rewarding field if students are well-informed before making the decision to pursue this career.