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RN Career Paths in South Carolina

South Carolina healthcare facilities are concerned with meeting their workforce needs, now and into the future.

Fortunately, nursing is a diverse field that can attract many. Well-prepared RNs can opt for acute care or long-term. They may be facility-based or home-based. They may have responsibility for multiple patients or work one on one in clients’ homes. Some even work for organizations that improve health at the population level.

South Carolina Nursing Workforce

South Carolina is one of a minority of states that has been predicted to experience a shortfall of nurses over the long-term.

Large medical systems have many specialized nursing teams. Some roles require expertise – the kind that is developed after a few years. Others can be met by novice nurses, particularly if the organization has programs in place to orient them, mentor them, and prepare them to meet the challenges they will encounter on the unit for which they have been hired.

Needs change from year to year, as does the nursing workforce. South Carolina, like other states, has systems in place to monitor supply and demand. The South Carolina AHEC Office for Healthcare Workforce conducted a survey of the state's hospitals in late 2014 and early 2015 (https://www.scohw.org/reports/96).

The hospitals reported that it was more difficult to fill positions for experienced RNs. There is, in fact, a large discrepancy between the applicant pool for novice positions and the one for experienced nurses. This points to need to get off to a good start!

Beginning an RN Career

A future RN begins by completing an approved RN program in South Carolina. All approved programs cover skills and knowledge for a range of settings. The NCLEX-RN, required for licensing purposes, validates safe and competent entry-level practice.

Students can expect to gain clinical experience in multiple settings. They may seek out additional opportunities, such as externships at premier facilities.

Training doesn’t end at graduation. Nearly 3/4 of South Carolina hospitals reported having a training program in place specifically for hires who did not have previous acute care experience.

RNs have a scope of practice higher than that of LPNs. They can do more technical procedures. The Board has provided scope of practice advisory opinions regarding which invasive procedures each may be able to do – if they have had appropriate training and practice and their competency has been verified (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/Nursing/index.asp?file=AdvisoryOp/advisorysup.htm).

The higher license also signifies that a nurse has the competency to exercise greater judgment in areas like assessment and evaluation.

Well-educated nurses are involved in the management of complex cases. New roles are emerging and becoming more popular. Nurses can improve outcomes, reduce re-admissions, and keep costs down.

A majority of the hospitals surveyed in 2014-2015 noted some positions that they had either created very recently or that they intended to create in the coming year. Topping the list was care navigator/ patient navigator -- 55% of the hospitals that had created new positions responded in the affirmative on this one! Also popular were clinical documentation specialist, informaticist, and care coordinator. Hospitals mentioned other roles like population health nurse, educator, or care assurance nurse.

Some duties are best performed by nurses with specialized training. Sexual Abuse Nurse Examiner (SANE) is among them (http://www.heraldonline.com/latest-news/article162841233.html). There are, unfortunately, not enough nurses with the training. This is in part systemic. Experienced nurses can take a short program to qualify for the credential.

RNs in Home Care

RNs hired in home health may take on supervisory roles or work with complex cases and do difficult technical tasks.( There is a relationship between scope of practice decisions made by the state and what type of nursing professional that companies hire to provide different services.)

Nightingale's Home Nursing and Attendants has described divergent roles based on healthcare background. An LPN might perform some fairly technical tasks for an adult (for example, provide G-Tube medication or even care for someone with a ventilator). RNs, though, provide home care for juveniles with trachs and ventilators. They are needed to carry out invasive procedures, perform assessments, and manage more complex cases. Some RNs are hired to provide nursing supervision (http://nightingalesnursing.net/home-care-services/nursing-care).

Nurses as Educators

Professional nurses are often educators, whether it’s teaching patients how to manage acute or chronic conditions or teaching the nurses on their own unit about new evidence-based practices. A small group of well-educated nurses go on to become nursing faculty. This is a crucial role. RN positions will be increasing around the nation in the coming years, but many jurisdictions have the capacity to produce as many – more even – than they need. Those that don’t are looking hard at their educational infrastructure: How can they attract qualified faculty?

Tuskegee University recently profiled their new dean of nursing (https://www.tuskegee.edu/news/tuskegee-names-hendricks-as-new-dean-of-nursing-and-allied-health). Nursing was always her passion, she recounts, but she realized she could influence even more people by educating the new generation of nurses.

Average RN Salary in South Carolina

South Carolina registered nurses earned an average $30.51 an hour or $63,470 a year in 2016, according to data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The South Carolina registered nursing occupation has been projected to grow by 15.3% across the 2014 to 2024 decade.

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