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Home > Articles > Office Nurse: Job Duties, Training, and Employment Outlook

Office Nurse: Job Duties, Training, and Employment Outlook

Published on December 18, 2009.

Job Duties

Office nurses are registered nurses who work in outpatient facilities such as physicians' offices, clinics, surgical centers, community clinics, workplaces, and emergency medical centers. Office nurses have a range of responsibilities which they carry out under the direction of a physician. Their work involves helping patients during examinations, giving shots or pharmaceuticals when necessary, helping with routine procedures, and managing patient discharge. Office nurses provide patients with educational material and information about pain management or treatment plans. In some settings, they are also responsible for administrative tasks such as record keeping and office management.

Job Skills

Office nurses work closely with patients, often during intense and stressful times for the patients, so a calm nature and empathy are important attributes. Communication skills are important, both for effective communication with patients and with the physician on whose instructions office nurses act. Accurate observations skills and the ability to make decisions based on those observations are also important.


In May 2008, median annual wages for registered nurses were $62,450. The highest 10 percent of earners took home over $92,240 while the lowest 10 percent earned under $43,410. Nurses working in physician's offices earned a mean annual salary of $65,070.

Training and Education

Office nurses must earn a nursing license to practice as a registered nurse, To qualify for a nursing license, you must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination. Three different programs are currently recognized for aspiring nurses: a 4-year bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) from a college or university, a 2-3 year associate's degree from a junior or community college, or a 3-year diploma program run by a hospital. You can get specialized certification as an office nurse through the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN). A BSN provides you with the greatest scope for advancement within the nursing profession, so many nurses certified through associate's degree or diploma programs go on to enter bachelor's programs. All of these certifications and degrees can be earned from a variety of online schools as well.


Registered nurses held approximately 2.5 million jobs in 2008. Of these, 8 percent were in offices of physicians and 3 percent in outpatient care facilities. The majority of registered nurses work in hospitals.

Job Outlook

Employment growth for registered nurses in the decade 2006-2016 is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations at 23 percent, with the highest rates of employment being in the offices of physicians (39 percent), home healthcare services (39 percent) and outpatient care centers (34 percent).

Growth in employment of office nurses is driven in part by the pressure on physicians to treat more patients in less time, which increases the need for office nurses to handle more responsibility. The growth in employment of registered nurses as a whole is due to the need to replace nurses leaving the profession, plus a growing elderly population, the growth of the healthcare industry, increased emphasis on preventative treatment, the rising median age of registered nurses, and technological advances that make a growing number of health problems treatable. As a result of all of these factors, office nurses are in high demand.

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