Where Do Nurses Work? An Overview of Different Nursing Job Settings

Where Do Nurses Work? An Overview of Different Nursing Job Settings

Are you curious about pursuing a career in nursing? This guide outlines the typical workplaces where nurses can be found and the roles they fulfill in each setting. Whether you’re considering becoming a nurse or are new to the field, understanding the potential job settings and the associated responsibilities can aid in choosing a nursing path that suits you best. This guide details prevalent work environments for registered nurses (RNs), covering employment possibilities, the tasks aspiring nurses might undertake, and the advantages and disadvantages of each environment. This information is valuable for novice nurses who want to assess their choices and determine where they’d like to specialize and work.

The Top 10 Common Work Settings for Nurses

Nurses will discover numerous job openings in general medical and surgical hospitals, with physician offices coming in second. However, there are ample opportunities across various settings, including hospitals and non-hospital contexts, for nurses at all career stages.

usa nursing papers

Struggling to meet your deadline?

Get your assignment on Where Do Nurses Work? An Overview of Different Nursing Job Settings done by certified MDs and PhDs in the USA. ORDER NOW!

Nursing roles can be found in outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare, government agencies, schools, and employment services. The upcoming sections offer specific insights into some of the most prevalent work settings.

Work Setting Total 2019 Employment
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 1,863,700
Offices of Physicians 409,750
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) 361,950
Home Healthcare Services 271,850
Outpatient Care Centers 200,060
Federal Government 101,810
Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly 88,230
Employment Services 81,360
Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals 72,640
Elementary and Secondary Schools 66,150

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Most nurses work in various hospital settings that provide general medical, surgical, psychiatric, substance abuse, and other specialty services. Hospitals are the primary workplace for over 60% of RNs, making them the largest group among nurses employed in this setting.

RNs have specific roles depending on their specialization. Emergency room RNs deal with fast-paced situations and unpredictable conditions. Intensive care unit nurses handle complex medical cases like cardiac arrests or accident injuries.

Maternity and pediatric nurses care for women and children in routine and complicated cases. Oncology nurses specialize in treating patients with cancer and stay updated on the latest treatments.

RNs in radiology or labs need technology skills to conduct specialized exams and analyze results. Hospitals also employ RNs in administrative and education roles, overseeing the nurse workforce and providing professional development.

Hospital-based nursing has pros and cons. Many nurses find fulfillment in helping patients with serious conditions. The 12-hour shifts in hospitals are appealing to many RNs and often drive them to choose hospital careers.

However, hospitals are open all year, requiring nurses to work weekends, holidays, and overnight shifts. Dealing with constant illness and stress can lead to burnout without proper self-care.

Outpatient Care Centers and Clinics

Outpatient care facilities offer routine preventive care, noncritical acute care, and minor surgeries. Outpatient nurses treat patients who don’t need overnight stays, unlike hospitals.

Outpatient clinics employ licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses (LPN/LVNs), RNs, and advanced practice nurses like nurse practitioners (NPs). Their roles differ based on their practice scope. NPs in this setting may have more autonomy than hospital-based nurses. NPs can prescribe medications, while RNs can give injections.

As hospitals shorten stays, outpatient clinics provide more job opportunities. Nurses in this setting like the autonomy, variety, and fast pace. Some nurses switch from hospitals for a more predictable schedule without weekend or holiday work.

However, handling many cases and patient responsibilities can be overwhelming. Outpatient nurses often manage healthcare tasks while handling office duties and patient communication.

Offices of Physicians

Physician offices offer routine, non-emergency healthcare, specializing in areas like pediatrics or dermatology. Nurses in these offices greet patients, record medical histories, assist with procedures, and support doctors.

Family medicine offices treat patients of all ages. Family nurse practitioners assist physicians in these offices.

Physician offices have normal 9-to-5 schedules without evenings or weekends, making them attractive. The routine is less hectic than hospitals.

Office nurses deal with routine conditions like colds, allergies, and checkups. Many patients have long-term relationships with their healthcare providers, including nurses.

Home Healthcare

Home healthcare nurses care for patients at their homes. They assist chronically ill, recovering, or disabled patients with medical care and daily living tasks.

Home health and personal care aides make up most of this setting. RNs are expanding their roles in home healthcare.

Nurses like the independence, slower pace, and personal connections in home healthcare. Strong communication skills and physical abilities are essential. Nurses lift and move patients in this role.

Nursing Homes and Assisted Care Facilities

RNs and LPN/LVNs work in nursing homes providing 24-hour care. Assisted care facilities help with daily living for the elderly or disabled who need some support.

Certified nursing assistants help in assisted care facilities, supervised by RNs and LPN/LVNs.

Nurses in these settings provide support to elderly, ill, or disabled patients. They appreciate lasting relationships.

However, they handle stressful conditions, especially with immobile or dementia patients. Heavy workloads and lower pay contribute to high turnover.

Elementary and Secondary Schools

School nurses handle illnesses and injuries, monitor chronic conditions, maintain records, and conduct screenings.

Nurses in K-12 schools need LPN/LVN or RN licenses. Some require specialized certification.

School nurses promote health among students, with regular schedules and variety. Stress is lower than clinical settings.

However, they earn less and may feel isolated as the sole healthcare professional.

How to Record Nursing Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

Academic Settings

Nurse educators in colleges and schools train future nurses. They teach, supervise clinical training, and prepare students for exams.

Nurse educators enjoy training nurses for quality healthcare. They need advanced degrees and often earn higher salaries.

Academic settings have challenges like research requirements and staying updated on developments.

What to Expect in Your First Year of Nursing School

Other Nurse Work Settings

Nurses have non-hospital options. Insurance companies, law firms, and government agencies employ nurses.

Nurses in government agencies control diseases. Military nurses provide care in various settings. Telehealth nurses provide remote services.

Nurses can choose various alternatives to traditional clinical practice. Travel nursing, underserved communities, and aesthetic clinics offer diverse options.

Why Nursing School Costs So Much?

Nursing school can be quite expensive. Discover why and get advice on making the most of your nursing education from healthcare experts. The cost of nursing school can range from $40,000 to $120,000 for bachelor’s programs, and graduate programs are even pricier. Many aspiring nurses wonder why nursing school is so costly and if it’s worth it. Luckily, there are ways to lower nursing school expenses and reduce student loan debt.

This guide delves into the reasons behind the high cost of nursing school. It also explores financial aid options for nursing students and strategies to minimize college expenses.

Why Nursing School Has High Costs

Over the past few decades, higher education expenses have risen, and nursing school is no exception. According to a 2020 article by the Manhattan Institute, some factors contributing to the high cost of college include:

  • Expanding campus facilities
  • Growing administrative staff
  • Increased demand for higher education
  • Rising cost of living

Moreover, nursing students face additional costs specific to their field. Karen Wons, MS, RN, CNE, project director for the associate to bachelor’s degree program at Baltimore City Community College, explains:

“These extra costs often include uniforms, stethoscopes, and other supplies for clinical rotations; lab fees for sophisticated simulation labs using advanced mannequins; and testing fees covering standardized exams throughout the nursing program.”

Nursing students might also need to cover transportation to clinical placements and comfortable walking shoes.

Nursing Degree Expenses

Uniforms: Nursing students need uniforms, usually scrubs, for most clinical settings. While scrubs are relatively affordable, you’ll need several sets. Some hospitals might provide scrubs.
Supplies and Textbooks: Nursing students must purchase supplies like stethoscopes, penlights, lab coats, and nursing shoes for clinical experiences. Additionally, there are textbook costs, which could amount to a thousand dollars for the entire program.
Lab and Clinical Placement Fees: Many nursing courses include fees for lab work and clinical experiences. Labs involve nursing simulations, where students act out patient scenarios on sophisticated manikins. Some schools may also charge fees for clinical placements.
Testing Fees: Aspiring nurses need to pay for the NCLEX-RN examination after graduating. Some students opt for additional costs for test preparation.
Training and Immunizations: Nursing students are required to pay for CPR training and keep up with their immunizations.

Ways to Reduce Nursing School Costs

Thankfully, there are strategies to cut down on nursing school expenses, such as qualifying for loan forgiveness programs. Many organizations, including foundations, nursing associations, and corporations, offer financial aid to nursing students. You can also find ways to obtain a high-quality education without a hefty price tag.

1 Apply for Financial Aid

There are numerous sources of financial aid for nursing students, such as grants and scholarships from your school, organizations, and the U.S. and state governments. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines federal grants, loans, or other financial aid you might be eligible for. Schools also use the FAFSA form to determine scholarship and grant eligibility, streamlining the application process.

2 Choose a Public School with In-State Tuition

Opting for a public school where you qualify for in-state tuition rates significantly reduces nursing school expenses. In-state tuition rates at public schools are much lower than those at private institutions. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of attending a public four-year university was $9,400 for the 2020-21 school year, compared to $36,700 for private institutions.

Wons recommends checking the NCLEX pass rates at your state’s nursing board to find reputable public nursing schools, as “a high pass rate indicates quality.” Keep in mind that in very small programs, one or two students can skew the records, so check data from the last several years for smaller schools.

3 Enroll in an Accredited Program

Wons emphasizes that “accreditation is a sign that the program undergoes regular rigorous review by major nursing organizations.” Attending an accredited program is a requirement for most forms of financial aid. Graduating from an accredited program is also necessary to obtain a nursing license, and most accredited programs don’t accept transfer credits from unaccredited ones.

4 Consider Starting with an ADN

You can save on nursing school costs by beginning with a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) instead of a BSN.

With an ADN, you can get a nursing license and pursue a BSN later, often with tuition assistance from your employer. A BSN can lead to higher salary and professional growth opportunities.

Sign-on bonuses might help cover tuition costs. If you’re an RN with an ADN, you could also consider an RN-to-MSN bridge program for advanced practice nursing.

Another option is becoming a certified nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse, as these programs are generally more affordable. Wons suggests exploring whether hospitals in your area offer support for nursing school costs for those starting as nursing aides or techs who then pursue a nursing degree.

5 Explore Loan Forgiveness Programs

After graduating, you can look into or qualify for student loan forgiveness programs. The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program covers 85% of your nursing school debt, both public and private loans, in exchange for a two-year service commitment at an approved critical shortage facility or nursing school.

You could qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program if you work in a government or nonprofit position, are on an income-driven repayment plan, and have made 120 payments on your federal student loans.

Is the Cost of Nursing School Justified?

Considering the potential high earnings for RNs, the cost of nursing school is often worth it. RNs earn a median annual salary of $77,600, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average student debt is $16,800 for an associate degree or $26,100 for a bachelor’s degree if you attended a public institution, reports the National Center for Education Statistics.

Sarah Gallagher Dvorak, director of admissions at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, remarks, “A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree is in high demand, and entry-level nursing salaries tend to be higher compared to many other professions. For those reasons, and particularly if you enjoy helping others, a nursing degree is most certainly worth it.”

usa nursing papers

Dont wait until the last minute.

Provide your requirements and let our native nursing writers deliver your assignments ASAP.

You cannot copy content of this page

WhatsApp Us
Our service is 100% Secure & Confidential.
Native USA experts will write you a Top-quality Nursing Paper from Scratch.

WhatsApp Us, We are Live!