Adult Nurse: Career Information & Requirements

Mar 19, 2019

Research the educational and skill requirements needed to become an adult nurse, as well as the job description and employment and salary outlook. Read on to decide if this career is right for you.

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Job Description for an Adult Nurse

Adult nurses specialize in preventative, general medical and acute care of the adult population. They may also concentrate in a particular health condition or disease, such as cancer. Typical duties of adult nurses include keeping records of patients' medical histories, working with doctors and other healthcare workers to devise treatment plans and administering medication. Additionally, they must monitor patients' conditions, assist with diagnoses and teach patients how to stay healthy after they're released. Adult nurses, especially those at advanced levels, may coordinate the activities of other nurses and staff.

Adult nurses usually work in hospitals, clinics, general medical practices, home healthcare centers and nursing care facilities. Working conditions vary greatly by setting; adult nurses may work in well-equipped healthcare centers or travel to homes and other facilities where they are needed. Depending on the type of care their clients require, they might work regular business hours or in rotating shifts, including nights and weekends. Adult nurses might sometimes be on call.

Required Education Usually, a certification program, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in nursing
Job Duties Include keeping records of patients' medical histories, administering medication, monitoring patients' conditions
Median Salary (2017)* $70,000 (all registered nurses)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 15% growth (all registered nurses)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

The majority of adult nurses work as registered nurses (RNs), via a certification program, an associate's degree program in nursing or a Bachelor of Science program in nursing. These programs take 2-4 years to complete and often include courses in nursing, physiology, anatomy, chemistry, psychology and microbiology. Additional coursework concentrates on subject areas pertinent to the care of adults. All nursing programs include clinical experience in a number of settings, including maternity wards, surgical departments, clinics and home healthcare agencies. According to statistics from O*Net Online in 2010, 64% of registered nurses have earned associate's degrees.

Licensing Requirements

All registered nurses, including those who work with adults, must be licensed. To earn licensure, students are required to complete an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination, also known as NCLEX-RN. Individual states may have additional requirements. Some positions require nurses to be certified in a specialty; these credentials can be obtained from professional nursing associations.

Required Skills

According to the BLS, adult nurses need to have the following qualities:

  • Bodily strength and emotional stability
  • Compassion and responsibility
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication and organizational skills
  • Management and organization abilities
  • Diagnostic skills and confidence in their own abilities

Employment and Salary Outlook

The BLS reported that employment opportunities for registered nurses, including adult nurses, were expected to grow 15% from 2016-2026, which was much faster than the national average for all occupations. Growth was projected to be the highest in physicians' offices, clinics, outpatient care facilities and long-term rehabilitation services, as these locations are taking on more services formerly provided by hospitals. In 2017, the median annual salary for registered nurses was $70,000.

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