The healthcare industry provides a wealth of opportunity for nursing specialization, which can help registered nurses earn more money and achieve greater job security.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 2.7 million people worked as a nurse in 2014. That number is expected to reach 3.1 million by 2024.
While more people are entering the profession, somewhat reducing the nursing shortage that had gripped many parts of the country, the demand for nurses still is expected to grow. That’s partly because while the need for more registered nurses remains, nurses also are needed in wide variety of areas of nursing specialization.
That’s one advantage of the profession that often gets overlooked. Nurses have hundreds of choices for the discipline they want to enter within the nursing profession. They also can choose a variety of facilities and locales to work, including:
- Physician offices
- Community health care centers
- Nursing homes
- A patient’s home (a home health nurse)
- Research facilities
- Universities and colleges (as a nurse educator)
- Diagnostic laboratories
- Schools (as a school nurses)
- Various locations for those who work for set periods of time at healthcare operations across the country and around the world
Those are some of the main choices, though certainly not all of them. Below is a detailed list of nursing specialties.
One of the main areas that attracts RNs looking to both advance their career and work in an area they enjoy is becoming a nurse practitioner. Those in this specialty must first become a licensed RN, then earn a master’s degree in their field of choice.
Two of the most popular choices for nurse practitioners are nurse midwife and nurse anesthetist. The former works with women before, during and after child birth. The latter works with patients before, during and after surgery and medical procedures that require the use of anesthesia.
But that’s just scratching the surface. Nurse practitioners can also specialize in pediatrics, neonatal care, geriatrics, women’s health, occupational health and family medicine, among other areas.
Specialties for RNs
Earning a master’s degree clearly opens the door to many opportunities. However, many nurses do not have the time or inclination to go to graduate school.
For those thinking of building on a successful RN career, consider some of the following specialty areas you can enter with a bachelor’s degree:
Burn Care. Working in emergency units, particularly in hospitals, that provide care for burn victims.
Cardiac Care. Working with patients who are dealing with heart disease or have suffered a heart attack.
Dermatology. Working with patients who suffer from skin conditions caused by illness, chronic medical conditions or wounds and injuries.
Emergency. The source of the typical picture of a nurse, in part because almost every medical television drama focuses on this area of nursing. Here, nurses work in hospital emergency rooms, treating patients who show up every day with a wide variety of injuries and conditions.
Health Informatics. Working with patient health records and other electronic data within a healthcare organization, ensuring it remains secure and that information is shared accurately across various medical departments and with insurance companies.
Medical-Surgical Nurse. Working with patients in a variety of settings, this area actually has the most nurses within the profession.
Nurse Advocate. Working as a communicator between patients and doctors, nurse advocates resolve any conflicts between the two and work with patients to ensure they understand every aspect of their treatment.
Those are just some of the literally hundreds of nursing specialization opportunities. But most of those are in hospitals or clinics. Other choices are available outside of these traditional settings.
Specialties Outside of Hospitals
Another area of opportunity for nursing specialization is outside of the traditional hospital setting. They include the following popular career choices:
- Ambulatory Care. Working typically in a community care center with patients in such areas as pain management and living with chronic conditions and illnesses.
- School Nurse. Providing healthcare treatment and education to students in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and college campuses.
- Nurse Educator. Teaching other nurses at the university level or in community clinics, medical instrument and device manufacturers, research facilities and in government agencies.
- Forensic Nurse. Working with attorneys and law enforcement agencies to help solve criminal and civil cases, usually those involving physical abuse or violent behavior.
- Nurse Life Care Planner. Working with those who have a terminal disease or chronic medical condition to develop a long-term healthcare plan.
Nurses truly do have a world of nursing specialization choices within their profession. While already plentiful, these opportunities should only grow as healthcare organizations continue to improve and personalize medical care.