We've always tried hard to define what an RGN does for a job. We look at the acronym, what it means and why it's so hard to pin down what an RGN does for a job. About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

The term RGN is both straight-forward and yet still a bit of a funny old term in the way it's used. It stands for Registered General Nurse and can broadly mean any nurse that has completed their degree or diploma and is then accredited by the Royal College of Nursing.

Nowadays, we've actually started to phase out the term and replace it with a different set of acronyms. What was once RGN (Registered General Nurse), RMHN (Registered Nurse for the Mentally Handicapped), RSCN (Registered Sick Children Nurse) and RMN (Registered Mental Nurse) are now officially called RNA (Registered Nurse Adult), RNMH (Registered Nurse Mental Health), RNLD (Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities) and RNC (Registered Nurse Child).

However, many jobs are still posted as 'RGN jobs' so to help you understand the kinds of jobs you might find available, we're producing a guide to just what RGN jobs are.

What are the specifications to being an RGN?

To become an RGN, you need to have completed a nursing degree or, pre-1990s, a diploma. The Nursing and Midwifery Council have a list of accredited programs at appropriate institutes that you can use to find a good course.

In the mid-nineties, and after Project 2000, nurses are now expected to hold modern academic degree qualifications.

Courses are three to four years long with the first year learning basic nursing and the others specialising in adult, child, mental health or learning disability. After this, you can continue to specialise in a variety of ways.

It used to be that one year of nurse training made you an SRN (State Registered Nurse) and then a further 12 months allowed you to become an RGN.

To practice lawfully now, you study to become a pre-registered nurse and then you apply for current and valid registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Before registration, you may work as an HCA, care assistant, clinical support worker or nursing assistant.

What do RGNs do?

RGN jobs consist of all kinds of work and it will vary depending on your specialisation. Broadly, you may work in hospitals or out in the community. In hospitals, you could work in all kinds of inpatient and outpatient settings such as A&E, wards or an area like Oncology. In the community, you'll work in areas like schools, prisons or GP surgeries.

After working in front-line jobs, you may wish to further you education or move into education and managerial work. To do so, you will need to study further.

How do I become an RGN?

There are a few routes into nursing but these all involve university. You cannot become a nurse in the UK without completing a nursing degree. There are many ways of accessing your degree:

5 A-C GCSEs including English and a science and at least 2 A Levels

Access to nursing courses

BTEC National Diplomas

International Baccalaureates

If you haven't the time to study full-time, there are part-time courses and you may also be able to secure a nursing secondment. This route involves working as a senior health care assistant/assistant practitioner whilst studying part-time too. A secondment may reduce your chances for NHS bursary help, however.

If you have previous experience or study, you may also be able to take the degree course more quickly than others.

Moving forwards

The best way to assess the kind of jobs out there is ultimately to look through them. Now you have an idea of the kinds of things you might be expected to do as an RGN and how you're able to do them, have a nose through our database and familiarise yourself.