Registered Nurse (RN) Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Registered Nurse (RN) Do?

Registered nurses (RNs) provide direct care to patients in a range of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. They work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals to develop and implement patient care plans, educate and support patients and their families, and ensure that medications and treatments are appropriate for the patient.

A registered nurse must possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills as well as strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They must also be knowledgeable about medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology. Also, they are responsible for performing diagnostic tests and interpreting the results, administering medications and treatments, and educating and supporting their patients.

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National Average Salary

Registered nurse salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Registered Nurse (RN) is:


Registered Nurse Job Descriptions

When it comes to recruiting a registered nurse, having the right job description can make a big difference. Here are some real world job descriptions you can use as templates for your next opening.

Example 1

[Your Clinic Name] is searching for an experienced and certified registered nurse to join our clinic team! We are looking for a confident and expert registered nurse who is capable of following proper procedures and has a comprehensive knowledge of clinic work. The preferred registered nurse will be responsible for observing patient behavior, administering physical and mental examinations, locating patient history, and recording patient progress. You will have to have a successful track record of fantastic client service and an easy-going attitude which will set patients at ease. In this position, you may also be occasionally required to treat and give medication to a patient who is in need of it, or delegate these tasks to nurses in the office. If this sounds like the dream job for you, please apply.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Talk with patients and record their medical history
  • Perform diagnostic tests and interpret results
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Dispense medication
  • Consult with doctors and other care providers
  • Use a variety of medical equipment
  • Counsel patients and their families

Education and experience

Registered nurses must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. They typically earn a bachelor’s degree, though some find work as an RN with an associate degree or diploma from a nursing program. All of these include hands-on clinical experience. Registered nurses need to be licensed by the state where they work, which requires passing an exam and, in some cases, a background check. Nurses also can become certified in different specialties.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong interpersonal skills for dealing with patients, doctors and staff
  • Discretion and the ability to handle confidential information
  • Ability to multitask and prioritize workload
  • Physical stamina and emotional stability
  • Compassion and a calm, caring demeanor
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • 2+ years of experience working as an RN
  • Experience in both hospital and clinic rotations
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills
  • Compassion and sympathy for patients
  • Knowledge of prescription medications and treatment plans

Example 2

Position summary

The Operating Room Registered Nurse provides nursing care to the patient during the intraoperative phase, performs nursing activities in the operating room where the circulating nurse is the patient’s advocate, and answers patient needs by assisting the physician and person responsible for anesthesia care.

Primary functions & accountabilities

  • Organizes time, equipment, supplies, and staff to provide effective case management
  • Supervises and directs patient care in a single operating room
  • Organizes nursing activities efficiently and effectively delegating activities appropriate to the abilities of available staff members
  • Assists with supply, drug, and equipment inventories to maintain stock level and availability
  • Addresses patient needs during admission to the operating room with attention to requirements specific to the outpatient setting
  • Identifies the patient and correct surgical intervention according to Facility policy and communicates with all surgical team members
  • Reviews the patient’s medical record and needs to plan care with other health care team members
  • Provides comfort and reassurance to the patient, as well as maintains a patient’s privacy and dignity
  • Explains intraoperative phase routine procedures and care to the patient
  • Performs the circulating nurse’s functions adhering to approved operating room procedures for the scheduled procedure
  • Prepares operating room according to the procedure to be performed and patient needs
  • Anticipates needs of the surgical team; assists anesthesia staff by supporting the patient during administration of anesthesia
  • Provides continuity of patient care by communicating with other perioperative care personnel and documenting records appropriately
  • Responds in a timely manner to meet the needs of the patient and physician
  • Documents patient care records and other forms accurately according to facility policy

Knowledge, skills & abilities

  • Knowledge of standard concepts, practices, and procedures within OR Nursing
  • Knowledge and experience in the perioperative care of surgical patients
  • Knowledge of specialized equipment used in the OR
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to respond effectively to emergencies, actual events or drills
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality of patient and employee information

Position requirements

  • Degree from an accredited school of nursing
  • Current Nursing License
  • CPR Certification
  • Orthopedic experience highly preferred
  • Category I exposure to blood borne pathogens; frequent exposure to chemical hazards; may encounter radiation hazards
  • Physical health sufficient to meet the ergonomic standards and demands of the position

Example 3


The Registered Nurse functions as a caregiver for a specific patient population in order to achieve desired outcomes. This position focuses on expanding knowledge and skills, provides effective direct care as part of the interdisciplinary team to a variety of complex patients. This position directs and oversees the care provided by other caregivers through delegation, validation, evaluation, and coordination. This position effectively coordinates patient care/unit activities among nursing peers, physicians and support services.

A Registered Nurse at ABC Company involves the delivery of nursing practices according to the most up-to-date evidence-based research, nursing policies, and standards of care, to provide and ensure safe and excellent delivery of individualized patient care. A day in the life of a Registered Nurse includes: Assessment, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation Assessment

  • Collects comprehensive data pertinent to the patient’s health or the situation
  • Performs age and disease specific assessment/data collection independently in a systematic manner focusing on physiologic, psychological, and cognitive status
  • Recognizes clinical and diagnostic status changes in patient status
  • Identifies variables in patient/family education needs based on age, disease, and culturally specific learning differences
  • Plan 1. Develops a plan of care that prescribes strategies and interventions to attain expected outcomes
  • Formulates age and disease specific patient/family centered goals/outcomes based on assessment data
  • Develops and coordinates a plan of care which is patient/family focused, prioritized, and encompasses the continuum of care


  • Communicates, coordinates, and implements the plan of care
  • Provides ongoing communication with patient/family, nursing colleagues, and other members of the health care team regarding a patient’s status, rendered care and treatment plans
  • Implements age and disease specific care in an organized and timely manner
  • Provides or coordinates the patient/family education as needed and ensures understanding
  • Performs according to established protocols in clinical situations, including communicating with appropriate persons and documenting events
  • Provides nursing care and treatments that reflect the patient’s needs, advocates appropriately, and demonstrates evidence-based nursing practice and compliance with standards
  • Performs continuous Point-of-Care electronic documentation of each individual patient’s assessments, plan-of-care, interventions, and evaluation of rendered care
  • Medication administration utilizing the newest advancements in bar-scanning and documentation technologies designed to ensure the safest delivery of medications to our patients
  • Multi-disciplinary discharging of patients to ensure safe transitioning and continuum of care


  • Evaluates progress toward attainment of outcomes
  • Utilizes critical thinking skills based on nursing knowledge to achieve desired patient outcomes
  • Initiates interventions related to patient’s change in condition and unexpected response to care

Additional responsibilities

  • Identifies ethical issues in the practice setting and brings them to the attention of other team members
  • Recognizes and responds to opportunities to enhance patient satisfaction
  • Must acquire and maintain competencies, certifications and continuing education in order to meet any facility accreditation or individual licensing requirements
  • Adheres to American Nurses Association Code for Nurses with Interpretive Statements
  • Lifts a minimum of 35 lbs., pushes and pulls a minimum of 10 lbs., and stands a minimum of 6 hours a day
  • Adheres to HMH’s Organizational and Managerial competencies and standards of behavior
  • Other duties and/or projects as assigned


  • (State) State Professional Registered Nurse License
  • AHA Basic Health Care Life Support HCP Certification
  • BSN in progress and/or willing to acquire within three (3) years of hire
  • Must have six (6) or more months of relevant nursing experience OR must be an active participant with Hackensack Meridian Health’s Nurse Residency Program
  • The ability to learn quickly and adapt to changing patient needs, a strong sense of accountability for improving the lives of our patients and their caregivers, an exceptional focus on teamwork, dedication to ongoing education and the ability and passion to deliver the highest quality of care based on a strong sense of patient focus are all required
  • National Certification in area of specialty preferred when eligible

Example 4

Job summary and qualifications

As a Registered Nurse (RN) in Newborn Nursery, you will be responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing care for assigned patients. You will work alongside Labor and Delivery nurses, Obstetricians, and Pediatric/Neonatology staff to develop an individualized patient care plan that follows hospital policies and procedures.

  • You will complete an admission assessment, including discharge planning, that is accurately documented within 2 hours of patient admission
  • You will initiate critical pathway during admission to plan nursing care, and will review and update pathway as evidenced by appropriate interventions and nursing care documentation
  • You will identify changes in patient condition and report these changes to the appropriate unit personnel
  • You will document resolutions of identified patient problems and communicate unresolved problems to appropriate unit personnel
  • You will accurately administer and document medications
  • You will evaluate the plan of care to determine need for modifications
  • You will evaluate the effectiveness of patient teaching and revise the teach plan as needed


  • 1 year of clinical nursing experience as a Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Experience as a staff nurse in an acute care setting – preferred


  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Licenses and certifications

  • Current State of (State) Registered Nurse (RN) license or Compact Registered Nursing License. If Compact License, (State) license must be obtained within 90 days of hire
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) certification required per ABC Company’s Healthcare policy
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certification required per ABC Company’s Healthcare policy

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • Public Health Nursing Certification (APHN). The public health nursing certification may be useful to a registered nurse due to the variety of positions a registered nurse may work in. Public health nurses will work with communities and may be required by some states to have this certification, so this can prove useful to a registered nurse.
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner. An adult nurse practitioner certification may benefit a registered nurse as an extension of their practice and certification which will provide more confidence in expertise to potential employers.
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner Certification. The emergency nurse practitioner certification will be immensely useful for any RN looking to work in an emergency-related field such as a hospital or urgent care clinic. This certification is required in some states which makes it a requirement if candidates are looking to work in those locations. It can also be beneficial in providing continued education and advanced knowledge of healthcare topics.

Sample Interview Questions

  • When you provide direct patient care, how do you ensure that the patient is treated appropriately and compassionately?
  • Have you ever had to assess a patient’s condition and develop a treatment plan based on their specific needs?
  • How do you ensure that the cultural beliefs and preferences of patients from various backgrounds are respected?
  • What was a difficult patient situation you encountered, and how did you handle it to ensure the best outcome?
  • How do you ensure the patient’s medication and treatments are administered correctly and on time during the treatment plan?
  • As a registered nurse, what do you believe is the most important aspect of comforting a nervous patient?
  • How do you communicate the results of diagnostic tests and interpretations to the patient and the healthcare team?
  • Keeping up with the latest developments in health care and nursing practice is imperative to your successful practice, but how do you make sure you are incorporating this knowledge into your daily activities?
  • If you were involved in a successful patient outcome, what steps did you take to ensure the best result?
  • How do you ensure that patients understand their medical condition and treatment plan? How do you provide patient education and support?
  • In order to ensure comprehensive and coordinated care for a patient, how do you collaborate with other healthcare professionals?

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