The Profession

Who they are: Registered nurses (RNs) are highly educated professionals who help people maintain good health and/or recover from illness or injury. Nurses work to promote health, prevent disease, and help patients cope with illnesses. Nursing professionals provide preventative and restorative health care to patients in a variety of settings.

What they do: Responsibilities of an RN can include: administering therapies and medications; participating in surgical procedures; managing units; teaching, assessing and counseling patients; responding in emergencies; and supervising others.

A nurse who has their undergraduate degree (BSN) can return to school for an advanced degree and specialized training in:

  • Adolescent Health
  • Adult Health
  • Children with Special Health Care Needs
  • Family Health
  • Gerontology
  • Informatics
  • Nurse Anesthesia
  • Midwifery
  • Nursing and Healthcare Systems Administration
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health
  • Public Health
  • Women's Health

Where they work: RNs can work in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, long term care facilities, private homes, business and industry, HMOs, public health agencies including rehabilitation and government, schools, and the armed forces.

Outlook: Changes in health care trends, an aging RN workforce, increases in job opportunities in many settings have increased the demand for more nurses in the workforce than ever before.


High school students who are interested in becoming an RN can complete a Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN). This undergraduate degree can be completed in four years. Undergraduate students completing a non-nursing major can become nurses by completing a Masters of Nursing program to become an RN. The MN program at the U of M takes 16 months to complete. 

A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is the highest clinical certification a nurse can achieve. This program allows nurses to pursue a higher clinical scope, such as becoming a nurse practitioner, a nurse midwife, a nurse anesthetist, and more.

A PhD in Nursing can also be earned. This individualized program of study allows students to focus on research or prepare for a role in academia.

U of M Program

American Association of Colleges of Nursing - Find Accredited Nursing Programs in the US