Most RNs work in well-lit, comfortable health care facilities. Home health and public health nurses travel to patients' homes, schools, community centers and other sites. RNs may spend considerable time walking, bending, stretching and standing. Patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities require 24-hour care; consequently, nurses in these institutions may work nights, weekends and holidays. RNs also may be on call ? available to work on short notice. Nurses who work in offices, schools and other settings that do not provide 24-hour care are more likely to work regular business hours. About 20 percent of RNs worked part-time in 2008.
RNs may be in close contact with individuals who have infectious diseases and with toxic, harmful or potentially hazardous compounds, solutions and medications. RNs must observe rigid, standardized guidelines to guard against disease and other dangers, such as those posed by radiation, accidental needle sticks, chemicals used to sterilize instruments and anesthetics. In addition, they are vulnerable to back injury when moving patients.