Seven nursing fields you can specialize in

Working as a nurse is a greatly rewarding role: there are few jobs out there that give the satisfaction you can when working in such positions. Not only do you make a difference to many people’s lives, but you are there for some of their life-changing moments, too. You can build connections with patients and families and get to know their stories and interesting life events. How many jobs can you do that in?

Nursing is not just looking after a patient’s basic needs, either. You can choose to work in many different environments and departments, both inside and outside of hospital institutions. There is such great variety within this sector, so you can choose to specialize in a field if that is what you are most passionate about.

Which should you practice in, though? There are hundreds of different nursing roles and fields in which you can work within and, although these are just seven of those listed here, you can be sure there is a nursing position out there for you.

Neonatal nursing

This is a subspecialty of nursing that means you’ll be working with newborn infants that may have been born with a variety of problems. These may include, for example:

  • Birth defects
  • Cardiac malformations
  • Infection
  • Prematurity
  • Surgical problems

The first month of life is defined as the neonatal period, yet these newborns may be sick for months. So neonatal nursing involves working with babies who have problems shortly after their birth, as well as those with long-term problems associated with prematurity or post-birth illness.

Many neonatal nurses will care for infants from birth until they have been discharged from the hospital. However, there will be a few neonatal nurses who will care for children up to around their second birthday.

Psychiatry

Psychiatric nurse practitioners offer care and consultation to patients with mental health and psychiatric disorders. They can treat those who have been diagnosed with conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia. Such nursing practitioners will also have had training in behavioral therapy, meaning you can treat patients – and those close to them – on how to deal with challenges associated with their psychiatric disorders. You may wish to specialize in working with older people or children, for instance, or in specific areas, e.g. eating disorders.

You will often be part of multidisciplinary teams if you become a mental health nurse. This means you will work alongside other health professionals such as GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and occupational therapists.

Clinical nurse specialist

A CNS will develop and establish standards affecting the quality of care for patients and will liaise with staff to make sure these guidelines are met. Those within this role will be Advanced Practice nurses with a master’s or doctoral degree in an area. These can be care type, health problem type, setting, or a disease or medical subspecialty. So you may wish to complete one of the DNP leadership programs available online if you’re looking to become a clinical nurse specialist during your career.

Alongside nursing responsibilities that focus on preventing or resolving illnesses for your patients, you will also be required to diagnose and treat injuries, diseases and/or disabilities within your area of expertise. You will still provide direct care to people, as well as becoming an expert consultant for your nursing staff and actively improve how to deliver healthcare.

Nurse management

A chief nursing officer (CNO) or chief nurse executive (CNE) is at the top of nursing management positions in a healthcare organization. This can be a complex role, so you will need to have several years of nursing behind you and have leadership experience. You will be responsible for coordinating and supervising daily activities in your nursing department and speak on behalf of nurses while planning and organizing overall operations of services for nursing and patient care.

There are several facilities you can work in as a CNO. These may include hospitals, clinics, outpatient centers, healthcare system corporate offices, rehabilitation facilities or government agencies.

You will need to have a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited nursing school, although receiving a Master of Science in nursing (MSN) specializing in nursing administration or leadership in healthcare systems is becoming the standard for such roles. A Doctor of Nursing practice (DNP) in executive administration is preferred by some large healthcare organizations.

Midwifery

Being a certified nurse-midwife – or a CNM – means that you care for patients through their pregnancy, and then labor and birth. A nurse in this role will work closely with obstetricians through a patient’s pregnancy and will often become the primary healthcare provider with delivery.

You will need to have more education than you may require with some other areas of nursing – remember, you will be responsible for bringing new lives into our world as a CNM. Nurses within this area will get high salaries, too.

Family nurse practitioner

As an FNP, you will be giving nursing care within family medicine and will often work with a patient’s primary care physician. Because of how close you will end up working with patients, you may become the most familiar face in a healthcare facility to people.

An FNP will have a high level of autonomy within some states, meaning you may be able to run your own practice and even prescribe medication. You will be giving assessments to patients, and work with other healthcare providers for consultations – so you may find you are in high demand if you move into this area.

Emergency and trauma nursing

Registered nurses with an interest in trauma and emergency treatment can take specialized training to prepare themselves for handling chaotic situations with calm professionalism and compassion. You may wish to get additional certifications in emergency care for areas, too, such as life-flight care, pediatric nursing or diving medicine.

It is crucial to have the correct personality as an emergency and trauma nurse. This is because you will need to be able to deal with high-stress situations and make critical decisions for you to succeed in this fast-paced field.

 

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