RN Paths in Nevada
Nevada RNs take on many varied roles. You see them just about everywhere, from hospitals to academic and community settings, though sometimes there aren’t quite enough. This is a situation that the state’s healthcare leaders are attempting to change.
Beginning an RN Career
There are typically two (or more) stages to becoming a proficient nurse. Nevada, like other states, sets minimum education and examination requirements for licensure. When a person has completed an approved diploma or degree program (RN programs in Nevada) and passed the licensing examination, he or she is eligible for licensure (provided there are no disqualifiers).
Expertise, though takes more. With some specialties, it is critical. In a tight market, health organizations are challenged to fill specialized positions. Some medical systems offer residencies to help novice nurses move up the skill continuum more quickly and to prepare them for situations they may see on that particular unit. Residency has the added benefit of aiding retention; it isn’t likely to go away when market conditions change.
Nevada’s Office of Science, Innovation & Technology announced that a STEM grant would allow the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada to offer a residency that included an evidence-based practice project (http://osit.nv.gov/Grants/STEM_Workforce_Challenge_Grant_Round_4/).
RN Work Settings
Registered Nurse Workforce in Nevada (May 2014), a survey-based workforce report with data presented by the Nevada State Board of Nursing, provides some detail about Nevada’s RN population. 61% of respondents reported the hospital as their work setting; this is higher than the then reported 56.5% national average. Other relatively common settings were as follows:
- Ambulatory care
- Home health
- Academic settings
- School health services
- Nursing home, extended care, and assisted living facilities
- Public health
- Correctional facilities
Nevada had significantly smaller percentage of registered nurses employed in nursing home, extended care, and assisted living facilities than the nation as a whole (2.5% as opposed to 6.5%).
Some differences in hiring patterns existed within the state. Rural and frontier areas were even more skewed toward hospital settings over ambulatory care settings. Frontier and rural areas were also higher, percentage-wise, with regard to home health, public health, and school health service RNs.
64.3% of Nevada survey respondents reported their role as staff nurse, a rate very near the national average. Staff nurses provide direct patient care below the advanced practice level.
The segment reporting that they were nurse manager was 11%, exactly the national average.
Advanced practice, a graduate role, was included in the general RN statistics. Here Nevada was below the national average, even figured as a percentage of RNs (as opposed to per capita).
Other roles included nurse faculty, nurse executive, and consultant. Nearly 10% of Nevada RNs, though, selected ‘other health-related’. They considered their role to be something other than staff nurse, manager, executive, faculty, advanced practitioner, or consultant.
What do nurses actually do? Many things. An early 2018 job search turns up the following:
- Telephonic Nurse Case Manager
- Wound Care Supervisor
- RN Care Manager I (Office Based)
- RN Community Program
- Hemodialysis RN – Manager
- RN – Oncology Clinical Trials & Outreach Nurse
- Occupational Health Nurse
- RN-Behavioral Health
Early 2018 found multiple long-term or extended care facilities seeking to fill Director of Nursing and Assistant Director of Nursing positions. State code mandates that skilled nursing facilities have an RN in the role of Director of Nursing. (This is an opportunity to progress to high levels within an organization — and, potentially, an opportunity to influence long-term care in a positive way.)
Care management, care coordination, and case management roles have become increasingly important. Nurses in these roles may count, among their duties, determining the appropriate level of care, helping patients transition from one setting to another, and providing needed support so that patients need less in the way of emergency or inpatient care.
This isn’t the type of role one typically graduates prepared for, but there’s need. The Renown Annual Report included the information that Renown Regional Medical Center had added a transitional care residency program to its existing tracks, Maternal-Child, Medical-Surgical and Telemetry.
A new Las Vegas program has put registered nurses in the dispatch center providing triage for non-emergency calls. Often these are people who don’t know what non-emergency services are available. Reno’s REMSA has a heath line to give community members access to a registered nurse.
Campaign for Action, meanwhile, describes the strides two Nevada nurses have made to create healthier communities (https://campaignforaction.org/roots-success-take-hold-nevada/).
Nationally Recognized Nursing Care
Nevada boasts two Pathway-designated organizations, Renown Regional Medical Center and Renown South Meadows Medical Center, both in Reno. ‘Pathway’ is an ANCC designation that signals a nurse-friendly environment.
The Renown annual report includes descriptions of nurses doing what, for many, makes the career rewarding: human level caring (https://www.renown.org/). Sometimes the ways that they’re helping can go outside the usual job description. This was the case with an RN who provided dinner to the indoor/ outdoor cat of a very worried patient and then called to let the nurse on duty know that the patient needn’t worry – she’d seen the cat and it was fine.
The annual report notes many awards and recognitions. Monetary benefits are popular, but so is recognition.
Direct care hospital positions can feel very different, based on the unit. Nevada’s Level I trauma center was in the news following the Las Vegas shootings. The types of injury as well as the volume of patients made for an unprecedented situation, but trauma nurses do see gunshot victims as well as accident victims on a regular basis.
Sometimes the pace is slower, but stakes are still high. The Las Vegas Review-Journal describes two nurses at the University of Nevada Medical Center Las Vegas administering a calming treatment, Healing Touch, which is designed to assist the body’s energy fields. On this particular day, the nurses were administering therapy to a woman in her 40s suffering from metastatic cancer (https://www.reviewjournal.com/life/health/the-power-of-touch-helps-las-vegas-woman-deal-with-illness). The hospital has endorsed Healing Touch. A trauma surgeon is quoted as saying that he has witnessed the positive effects the treatment produces.
Career Outlook and Average Salary
Nevada RNs earn a mean hourly wage of $38.87, or an annual mean salary of $80,840 as of May, 2020. 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for Registered Nurses is based on state data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2021.
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