8 Settings Where Registered Nurses Work

A pair of nurses discussing a patient care case
A pair of nurses discussing a patient care case

Registered nurses (RNs) in the United States are in extremely high demand. In 2023, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced financial investments of more than $100 million to address this increasing demand through dedicated training and intentional growth of the nursing workforce. These monetary awards amplify efforts toward improving the nursing shortage across many health care settings where RNs work.

If you are an individual aspiring toward a second career in nursing, this blog is for you. With a bachelor’s degree in any non-nursing field, you can qualify for admission to an accelerated nursing program where you will receive the required education and clinical training to help reduce the U.S. nursing shortage. 


Overview of the Nursing Role

Learning what the role and responsibilities of RNs are in different workplace settings is an important consideration when you are starting your nursing career. It’s also worth thinking about opportunities for progression and growth within a chosen nursing specialization. If you are wondering whether nursing is right for you, this blog explores many of the different workplaces for nurses such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Schools
  • Community agencies
  • Remote locations

A nursing career is fitting for ambitious individuals who enjoy the challenge of continued development and lifelong learning. There is always room to rise up higher and feel deeply fulfilled from making a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and families. 

Nursing employment opportunities are prevalent in a variety of settings that include fast-paced work environments, clinical positions, and non-clinical roles. You can become a nurse online with a combination of didactic coursework and hands-on clinical experience in your local area. 


Work Settings for Registered Nurses

With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, RNs are prepared with the level of nursing education that is preferred by employers. There is a wide range of careers for BSN-prepared nurses, and accelerated programs are available that allow individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field to attain a BSN degree in less time than a traditional, four-year program.

With this in mind, let’s go deeper and explore nine specific work locations for RNs.


Setting #1 - Hospitals

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), general medical and surgical hospitals employ approximately 30% of RNs in the United States, the largest percentage of any industry. Within hospital settings, nurses can be found in different subspecialty areas. Examples include:

  • Cardiology
  • Neurology
  • Medical-surgical
  • Pediatrics
  • Newborn/Postpartum

According to BLS statistics, specialty hospitals (excluding psychiatric) are the next largest employer of RNs, followed by psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals. In May 2022, the average salary for an RN working in a general medical-surgical hospital was approximately $90,600 annually.


Setting #2 - Outpatient Care Centers

Many RNs work in outpatient or ambulatory care centers where they carry out responsibilities such as:

  • Taking patient histories
  • Completing vital signs and physical examinations
  • Immunization and medication administration
  • Documentation and reporting
  • Interdisciplinary care

Like hospitals, ambulatory care centers may encompass different subspecialties but for outpatient care. Examples include orthopedics, podiatry, pediatrics, gastroenterology, obstetrics, and many other practice areas. In May 2022, the average salary for an RN working in an outpatient care center was approximately $97,200 annually.


Setting #3 - Physician Offices

Physician offices are a type of ambulatory care where RNs are employed and have similar roles and responsibilities as those in outpatient care. Physician offices may focus on primary care and serve patients and families for general health needs, referrals, and coordination of care with other specialty areas.

In May 2022, the average salary of RNs working in physician offices was approximately $79,810 annually, or $38.37 hourly. 


Setting #4 - Telehealth

The career outlook for RNs is favorable, with expected job growth of approximately 6% between 2022 and 2023. Telehealth has made it possible for RNs to work remotely and provide nursing care including consultations, patient education, triage, and other services to patients through virtual platforms. 

Benefits of telehealth include efficient, cost-effective care delivery and increased access to care and resources for those in rural areas. Nurses may live in one state and provide care to patients in another through telehealth and compact licensure. An average telehealth nurse salary in 2023 is approximately $86,320 annually.


Setting #5 - Home Health Care

RNs in home health settings travel and provide nursing care to patients and families within their homes. These positions commonly provide care for geriatric patients and those receiving hospice and palliative care. According to the BLS, the average salary for RNs working within home health care settings is approximately $82,920 annually. 


Setting #6 - Long Term Care and Assisted Living Facilities

Nursing jobs in home health care may also require nurses to work in long term care and assisted living facilities. In these positions, nurses carry out activities such as:

  • Wound assessment and care
  • Providing durable medical equipment for residential use
  • Education regarding comfort medications
  • Patient advocacy with interdisciplinary staff and facility clinicians

The average salary for an RN working in skilled nursing was approximately $77,190 annually.


Setting #7 - Schools

Nurses who especially like working with the pediatric population may be found working within elementary, junior, and senior high schools. In this role, managing student health concerns and keeping organized health records are everyday duties of the RN. This includes medication administration and triage of illness.

The average salary for a school nurse is lower than other work settings at approximately $55,028 per year in 2023.


Setting #8 - Academia

Nurses employed in academics may teach courses or clinical rotations for colleges and universities. The pay for this role varies based on academic preparation, as a professorial role in nursing typically requires a master's or doctoral degree. The average salary for nursing instructors is approximately $85,900 annually. In academic settings, RNs may teach on campus or online courses. 


Benefits of Accelerated Online BSN (ABSN) Programs

If you are looking to change careers to become a nurse and already hold a bachelor’s degree, an ABSN is the fastest route to earn your BSN. Online Accelerated BSN programs are advantageous because they build on a foundation of prior, non-nursing education and transition individuals into the nursing profession in under two years. With the current nursing shortage and immense need for nursing professionals, this is a major benefit.

Additionally, online ABSN programs offer flexibility in learning because of the coursework that is delivered in a remote format. While it is important for students to dedicate themselves fully to the coursework and clinical experiences in a rigorous ABSN program, the flexibility in scheduling allows for greater freedom to manage study responsibilities with family and personal commitments.

Other benefits of online ABSN programs include:

  • Fast degree completion
  • Clinical placement support 
  • Innovative teaching strategies for distance education
  • Networking with students from a variety of geographical areas

Holy Family University offers a high-quality, affordable ABSN program where students can experience these benefits and prepare to enter the nursing workforce as BSN-prepared RNs.


Earn Your ABSN Degree at Holy Family University

Now is a great time to get your ABSN degree at Holy Family University and quickly position yourself for success in the nursing field. The Second Degree Distance Hybrid BSN program offers outstanding value and student success coaching throughout the full-time curriculum.

Students will apply clinical skills during field rotations in multiple practice settings, allowing an opportunity to experience different types of settings where RNs work. Other program features include:

  • Graduation in 14 months
  • 100% online coursework
  • One in-person residency
  • Free clinical placement support

If you are ready to get started on your ABSN journey, download your program guide to learn more about Holy Family University’s online program.