RN Careers in Ohio: Becoming an RN

Ohio is a place of world-class hospitals and community-driven health organizations. Right now it is also a place of high need. Some parts of the state are struggling to meet their need for registered nurses.

RN Duties

Registered nurses are professional nurses who have a broad scope of practice.

RNs are more likely to work in settings where acute conditions are treated. They also carry out higher-level duties in settings where non-acute care is delivered. Skilled nursing facilities utilize RNs, even though nursing assistants are more frequently seen bedside.

Nurses with basic credentialing work under direction; this means they follow treatment plans created by others. RNs, though, create treatment plans. They carry out patient assessment; this is a process that involves taking a critical look at data, not just collecting it.

The Ohio Board issues interpretive guidelines about procedures that may fall under a nurse’s scope of practice; demonstrated competence is a term that comes up repeatedly. Among the topics are sharp wound debridement and care of patients who are going through cardiac stress testing. These technical duties represent a few of the many that an RN may potentially be called upon to do, depending on the employing unit.

Becoming a Registered Nurse

A prospective RN must complete an approved program (RN programs in Ohio) and pass a licensing exam. There are four types of Ohio registered nursing program: associate’s, diploma, bachelor’s, and direct entry graduate. All qualify grads to take the NCLEX-RN, but career paths vary. Many Ohio nurses complete additional nursing degrees, though, beyond the one that initially qualified them.

The Ohio RN Workforce

The state collects detailed information about the RN workforce at the time of renewal. The2016 report was based on 183,188 responses. It included some RNs who were not employed in the field. Most, though, reported a nursing position. The largest single category was inpatient nurse: 61,006. The next largest category — nursing home, extended care, and assisted living — comprised a much lower 11,077. Rounding out the top five were two more categories of hospital RN — emergency room and operating room/ perioperative – as well as home health RN. Just below this level (still 7,618) was hospital outpatient. Among the other frequently cited settings were ambulatory care, ambulatory surgical center, hospice, insurance setting, school health, academia, public or community health, hospice, physician partnership, and physician single setting specialty; the latter two represent different types of office or clinic setting. (Solo practice physicians’ offices were a little less common, ranking below occupational health and correctional facility.)

The data includes advanced practice nurses, a group more often employed in settings where health needs are below the level of emergency department or acute care hospital. However, their numbers are small. Masters and doctoral prepared advanced practice nurses in primary care settings carry out higher roles, ones more akin to that of a primary care physician.

The RNs surveyed reported many sometimes overlapping specialties; no specialty was reported by as many as 10%.The highest subset of RNs report medical/surgical (15,899); med/surg is a very common hospital classification. The next most common setting was one that is often seen in skilled nursing: geriatrics. The next highest were emergency, cardiology, and surgical. One will find a number of registered nurses citing populations or age groups as specialty (pediatrics, neonatal). Ohio, notably, has multiple very well-regarded children’s hospitals.

Many others cited a type of physical problem or treatment. Many nurses work specifically with oncology patients. Some work in gastroenterology, neurology, nephrology, or physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Ohio Hospitals

Ohio has many big hospitals with very specialized units. It also has more than 30 critical access hospitals providing needed services to people who aren’t near other facilities.

Magnet status is a high honor for hospitals and typically signifies a very attractive work environment for nurses as well. Fully 30 of the 471 hospitals with magnet designation are located in Ohio. Some large medical organization (for example, the Cleveland Clinic and Mercy Health) boast multiple magnet hospitals. The following are among Ohio’s magnets:

  • Akron General Medical Center
  • OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital
  • The MetroHealth System

It’s harder for a small facility to achieve magnet status. Some, though, have won other workplace- and care-related recognitions.

Public Health Nursing

Public health nurses are hired to work in a number of specific programs, including those that serve mothers and children. One well-known program is the Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps, or BCMH. BCMH nurses count the following among their duties:

  • Identifying children with special needs
  • Making referrals
  • Coordinating services
  • Making home visits

Other public health roles could include making newborn home visits, investigating lead exposure/ helping families reduce risk, carrying out other health surveillance activities, and providing screenings and information about healthcare conditions. Local health units may have special programs.

Meeting Workforce Needs

The number of RNs is highest in the Northeast part of the state; the Southwest is the second highest. Despite its higher numbers, though, the Northeast has struggled in recent times to meet staffing needs for registered nurses (http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20170128/NEWS/170129849/nursing-in-northeast-ohio-is-in-critical-condition). Use of travel nurses is high; travel nurses take in higher wages in return for their willingness to go where needed.

Overtime remains controversial. In 2018, there is a bill that, if passed, would restrict mandatory overtime for nurses.

Average Salary

Ohio registered nurses earned an average $30.75 an hour in 2016: $63,960 for a full year of work at 40 hours a week.

There is a little variance from one city or geographical area to the next. Salaries tend to be slightly higher in the big cities. RNs in the Cleveland-Elyria area, moreover, may earn, on an average, about $2,000 to $3,000 more than those in the greater Cincinnati and Columbus areas.

Salaries vary more within a single city, though, than they do from one to the next. Actual income may vary a good deal even within the same setting, based on things like shift differentials, overtime, and earned incentives.

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