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What Are the Duties of a Clinical Nurse?

Clinical nurses assess patients and help them recover from injuries or illnesses. Read on to learn more about the education requirements and job responsibilities of clinical nurses.

Tasks and Responsibilities

Clinical nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who provide patient care in clinical settings. As a clinical nurse, your duties might include assessing a patient's condition, administering medication, setting IVs, updating patient records, providing emotional support, and/or educating patients on how to manage their illness or injury. You may be required to work long hours and you might have to work on weekends and holidays. You will have to take great care in your work to protect yourself from exposure to radiation, disease, or hazardous material.

Your clinical nursing duties may vary depending on where you work. If you work in a hospital, you might work with one type of patient. For example, you might be assigned to the pediatric wing and primarily provide care to children. Or, you could work in a health clinic and provide care to all types of patients.

Important Facts About Clinical Nurses

Key Skills Excellent judgment and decision making, clear verbal communication, situational awareness, close monitoring, problem solving, critical thinking, active listening
Work Environment State, local, and private hospitals; physician offices; government agencies
Professional Certification Voluntary specialty certification is available
Similar Occupations Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, licensed practical nurses

Education and Licensing

Although nursing licensure is required in every state, licensing requirements can vary from state to state. To become an RN, you can complete a two-year undergraduate degree; you could also complete a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Both of these degree programs are designed to prepare you for the National Council Licensure Examination, which is required for RN licensure in all states.

It is important to continue your education in nursing beyond your degree program, regardless of the degree you choose to pursue. You'll likely need to fulfill continuing education hours on an annual basis in order to renew your license. You might also pursue a master's degree and advanced licensure or certification in order to work as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), employment of RNs was expected to grow by 15% from 2016-2026, which is faster than the national average of 7% for all occupations. Employment opportunities are expected to be strong due to the heightening need for elderly care and increased pressure on healthcare providers caused by health insurance reform. The BLS notes that registered nurses earned a median of $71,730 as of 2018.