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Nursing Work Conditions


Registered nurses work in many settings, from schools to doctor’s offices
Registered nurses work in many settings, from schools to doctor's offices.

As the largest healthcare occupation, registered nurses held about 2.7 million jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most registered nurses in 2012 were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 61%
Nursing and residential care facilities 7
Offices of physicians 7
Home health care services 6
Government 6

Registered nurses work in hospitals, physicians' offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities. Others work in correctional facilities, schools, clinics, or serve in the military.

Most registered nurses work in well-lit, comfortable healthcare facilities. Home health and public health nurses travel to patients' homes, schools, community centers, and other sites.

Some nurses move frequently, traveling in the United States and throughout the world to help care for patients in places where there are not enough healthcare workers.

Injuries and Illnesses

Registered nurses may spend a lot of time walking, bending, stretching, and standing. They are vulnerable to back injuries, because they must often lift and move patients.

In addition, the work of registered nurses may put them in close contact with people who have infectious diseases, and they often come in contact with potentially harmful and hazardous drugs and other substances. Therefore, registered nurses must follow strict, standardized guidelines to guard against diseases and other dangers, such as radiation, accidental needle sticks, or the chemicals used to create a sterile and clean environment.

Work Schedules

Because patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities need round-the-clock care, nurses in these settings usually work in rotating shifts, covering all 24 hours. They may work nights, weekends, and holidays. They may also be on call.

Nurses who work in offices, schools, and other places that do not provide 24-hour care are more likely to work regular business hours.

In 2012, about 1 out of 5 registered nurses worked part time.

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Last Modification: 01-26-2014


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