Registered Nurse versus Nurse Practitioner (A Day in the Life of Both)

Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes most of her free time to writing for RNnetwork, a site specializing in long term care nursing jobs.

Let’s face it; nurses are in high demand as well as the entire healthcare industry, which according to predictions will only continue to grow as our population increases and ages.  What does this mean for the field of nursing? Plenty!—As in lots of choices to find your ideal healthcare profession, i.e. traveling nurse, pediatric and psychiatric, are just among a small sample of the many exciting options to choose from.  But let’s say you’ve committed to becoming a nursing student, do you go the registered nursing route or further yourself by looking into being a nurse practitioner?  Let’s look at each option and weigh the pros and cons between the two:

  • Registered Nurse (RN): When we think of traditional nursing, registered nurses tend to jump right out at us.  These are generally those who followed a path into a nursing program from either an accredited technical school program or a four-year college degree in nursing.  If you earn your Associates Degree, you can be working in less than three years, your starting salary will be lower than those who earned a B.S. degree, however, since you are paying less for your education and are already gaining work experience and not stuck in a classroom, you have certain advantages that your fellow nurses may not.  Generally, a new nurse, with either an Associate’s Degree or Bachelors of Science Degree, start at $45, 473 to $46,250 respectively.  Duties for RN’s include hands-on care with patients, administering medication, IV’s, recording, observing and monitoring patient progress, may be involved with educational outreach to the public in regards to managing disease and encouraging steps for making healthier lifestyle choices.
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP): First let’s describe a nurse practitioner’s role.  Nurse Practitioners are nurses (all have earned their B.S.N) that have worked at least two years as an RN and have completed their master’s degree in nursing.   It entails a deeper commitment to furthering their education as well as on-the-job training.  Once completing their master’s degree, they must complete a state certification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.  For a newer Nurse Practitioner an average salary starts at $73,000 and depending on your years of experience and if you have any specialties your salary can run all the way up to $92,708.  Nurse practitioners duties include: general and preventative care, check-ups, treat illnesses, order lab tests and prescribe medications.

So after seeing the differences between the types of nursing, their requirements, duties and salaries, you can start to figure out which path works best and most importantly, where you ultimately see yourself in your nursing career.  Specialized RN’s like nurse anesthetists or those who work as LTC (long term care) nurses can make very comfortable salaries as well as steadily advancing in their chosen fields.

Among Nurse Practitioners, again depending on where you choose to focus your practice on, some options are General Nurse Practitioners and Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, both of which can produce high base salaries.  Speak with a nursing school counselor who can guide you in the right direction, your future awaits you!

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