RN Careers in Georgia: Becoming an RN

Georgia is experiencing a nursing shortage. So say executives at multiple Georgia healthcare facilities (http://www.georgiahealthnews.com/2017/01/georgia-nurses-problem-worse/ 70 vacancies). Rural areas have fewer nurses when figured on a per-population basis, but even the urban areas have been hit, and even premier facilities have found themselves with quite a few vacancies to fill.

The nursing profession needs new faces — some push for doing a little PR as early as middle school – but experience is also important. Some of those positions that are going unfilled call for experience beyond the entry level. A nurse who enters the field now will still do well to bolster his or her credentials. This can help ensure better opportunities – and pay –in the years to come.

There are many opportunities beyond bedside nursing, but this role remains crucial.

Work Settings and Roles

Registered nurses work in many settings. Hospitals are the most common workplace nationwide. Acute care typically needs RN-level expertise. RNs provide care coordination and patient education as well as bedside care. Long-term and sub-acute facilities also employ many RNs. RNs in these facilities administer medications and carry out relatively complex procedures. They also supervise LPNs and CNAs. Responsibilities could include the following: assessing health status, ordering diagnostic tests, and managing care. The job role could be specialized, including only a limited subset of allowable duties.

RNs also work in ambulatory settings and in various community and public health settings. Some are hired by insurance carriers.The following is a sampling of posted Georgia professional nursing positions from December of 2017:

  • Pre-Op/Post-Anesthesia Care Unit RN
  • Medicare Wellness Nurse
  • RN Home Infusion Nurse
  • Occupational Health Nurse
  • RN Assessment Nurse (Home Care)
  • Psychiatric Registered Nurse
  • RN Charge Nurse- Child Acute Unit
  • RN Admissions Nurse
  • Long Term Acute Care RN
  • Registered Nurse Medical/ Surgical
  • RN – Emergency Department
  • RN -Community Living Center
  • Neonatal Transport RN

Becoming a Georgia RN

Licensure is based on education and examination. Professional nursing degrees (RN programs in Georgia) are offered at different levels. Graduates who hold Bachelor of Science (BSN) degrees have a little better average pass rate on the NCLEX than those who hold the Associate Degree in Nursing. However, even this does not reflect their true value. The Georgia Nurses Association cites research demonstrating that, statistically, readmission rates are lower when organizations employ more nurses at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. There are positions at multiple levels, often within the same organization, but many postings do note that a BSN is required or preferred.

Licensure is generalist. Experienced nurses have the option of pursuing third party certifications in specialty areas. The following are among the certifications noted by Georgia employers:

  • Care Manager
  • Hospice & Palliative
  • Certified Emergency Nurse
  • Neonatal Intensive Care

Hospitals may pay for the cost of obtaining certification and even offer a bonus for maintaining it.

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Opportunities for New and Experienced Workers

There’s nursing school and nursing practice and ideally a transition period between the two. A period of residency is not mandatory, but there is growing recognition of its importance. Major medical systems often tout their residency programs as a perk.

Opportunities may begin even before the end of nursing school. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, for example, offers an externship program for rising seniors interested in pediatric nursing.

New grads may be hired into many units, depending on need. Children’s notes the following among the possibilities: transplant stepdown unit, hematology/ oncology, neonatal intensive care.

Some hospitals post positions for new grads at particular times of the year.

Travel Nurses

Just because there’s a vacancy, it doesn’t mean there’s no one on duty, and it’s not always overtime that facilities are relying on for staffing. There are also travel nurses.

Right now, facilities in Georgia are enticing nurses from states that have more. But a Georgia nurse, too, has that option. Why go from facility to facility, where need is highest? One reason is that they get a higher wage than the regular staffers.

Premier Georgia Institutions

Georgia now has seven magnet hospitals – the number has been growing. Several — Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory University Hospital, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, are under the banner of Emory Healthcare. The organization notes the following among the benefits and perks: a career lattice program with multiple opportunities for advancement, flexible childcare spending, wellness programs, shared decision making, and tuition assistance. The residency program for new graduates is open to those with degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s level.

Children’s Healthcare has won a number of workplace awards including placement on Becker Healthcare Review’s list of top places to work in healthcare. Here, too, nurses can pursue third party certification free of charge. The organization touts ‘My Nursing Career Path’: a flexible career development program with multiple ways to demonstrate excellence.

Average RN Salary in Georgia and Long-Term Career Outlook

Georgia registered nurses earned an average income of $31.13 in 2016; the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers this the equivalent of an annual salary of $64,750.

Georgia has been projected to see 20.1% RN occupational growth over the course of the 2014 to 2024 decade.

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