A registered nurse's scope of practice is determined by the school and by the government responsible for health care in the region. These bodies outline what is legal practice for registered nurses and what tasks they may or may not perform. In general, registered nurses help individuals, families, and groups to achieve health and prevent disease. They care for the sick and injured in hospitals and other health care facilities, physicians' offices, private homes, public health agencies, schools, camps, and industry. Some registered nurses are employed in private practice, and a few work at home for healthcare companies.
Nurses must have the ability to get along with other people and must communicate well. They must provide, without prejudice, the best care possible for every client. Especially during critical moments, the nurse must be self-controlled and efficient and show problem solving ability. Registered nurses supervise the nursing care of clients.
In all Canadian provinces except Quebec, new registered nurses are required to have a BScN. This is either achieved through a four year university (or collaborative) program or through a bridging program for existing RPNs/LPNs. Some universities also offer compressed programs for applicants already holding a bachelor's degree in another field.
In the United States, a registered nurse is a clinician who has completed at least an associate degree in nursing or a hospital-based diploma program. The RN has successfully completed the NCLEX-RN examination for initial licensure. Associate degrees in nursing frequently take three years to complete because of the increased volume of undergraduate coursework related to the profession of nursing. Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees include more thorough coursework in leadership and community health.
Specialty certification is available through organizations such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association. After meeting the eligibility requirements and passing the appropriate specialty certification exam, the designation of Registered Nurse – Board Certified (RN-BC) credential is granted.
As of 2011, there are 2.24 million registered nurses in China. In 2008 the US had approximately three million nurses  and Canada had just over 250,000. In the US and Canada this works out to approximately eight nurses per 1000 people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the job growth rate of Registered Nurses is 24%, well above the national average of 14%. The highest paid registered nurses in the United States are in California. California cities often comprise the top 5 highest paying metropolitan areas for registered nurses in the country. 
- Advanced practice nurse
- Nurse registry
- Nursing board certification
- Nursing education
- Nursing shortage
- Registered psychiatric nurse
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- Nursing (Ferguson's Careers in Focus). New York, NY: Ferguson. 2006. p. 188. ISBN 0-8160-6587-X.
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- "The Registered Nurse Population : Findings from the 2008 National Sample Surveys of Registered Nurses : September 2010". Bhpr.hrsa.gov. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
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- "Top Paying States and Metropolitan Areas for Registered Nurses". 2013-02-18. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
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