Different Types Of Nursing Careers And Specialties

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Nursing is not a career for the weak of heart. Nurses deal with life, death, and everything in between.

However, the job is also regarded as one of the most rewarding, in-demand, safe, and all-around best fields in healthcare.

Nurses help physicians deliver patient care by giving patients advice, educating them about different medical issues, and counseling both the patient and their family.

One can take advantage of rapidly expanding work options and maximize your prospects for career progression by pursuing a specialized nursing career. It’s crucial to understand that there are numerous distinct nursing career choices, from general practice to specialized fields like oncology.

In Canada there are 3 broad categories which nursing falls under:

1.      Registered Nurses (RNs)

RNs are nurses who have completed a University Nursing degree and have therefore qualified to become a General Registered Nurse. BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) prepared nurses are the most sought-after RNs in the job market and can advance to leadership and management roles more quickly than the ASN nurse (Associate of Science in Nursing).

2.      Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs)

RPNs are nurses who have completed a bachelors degree in psychiatric nursing or have a degree in general nursing and post-graduate degree or additional study in psychiatric nursing.

3.      Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)

LPNs are nurses who have completed a post-secondary diploma in nursing i.e., School of Nursing.

However, here is a list of various nursing careers and specialties with the highest demand: descriptions of who they are, what they do, and what you need for education to become one.

Travel Nurse

Travel nurses are registered nurses who help hospitals and healthcare organizations fill workforce gaps. For example, travel nurses might fill in for nurses who are on maternity or sick leave, or they could be called to another country to help deal with an emergency situation like a national disaster.

If you want to help others and see the world at the same time, then a career as a travel nurse could be right for you.

Education:      ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)

Certifications: RN

Med-Surgical Nurse

A med-surg nurse works on the medical/surgical floor of a hospital. Med-surg nurses must have strong time management and organizational skills, as they often care for multiple patients at a time.

They also need to be skilled communicators in order to work effectively with multiple healthcare team members, such as doctors and surgical staff.

If you like a fast-paced work environment where no two days are the same, then a career as a med-surg nurse might be a good fit for you.

Education:      ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)

Certifications: RN

Emergency Room (ER) Nurse

Emergency room nurses provide urgent care to patients in hospitals suffering from sometimes life-threatening injuries or illnesses. ER nurses often work alongside emergency medical staff and first responders, so they must have strong communication, critical thinking and collaboration skills to coordinate care and share information across these teams.

As an ER nurse, you can work in a variety of settings, from Level 1 trauma centers to rural hospitals or clinics, and across a range of nursing specialties, from trauma to pediatrics. ER nurses are registered nurses and must obtain at least an ASN.

Many ER nurses have a BSN and can go on to obtain additional certifications for specialized care, such as advanced cardiac, pediatric, and newborn life support.

Education:      ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)

Certifications: RN; some hospitals might also require Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) certification

Oncology Nurse

Oncology nurses are involved in many aspects of cancer diagnoses and treatment, from early detection to symptom management. They most often work in hospitals, but they can also be employed by home care organizations, specialty medical centers and ambulatory centers.

While cancer affects individuals of all ages, 69 percent of new cases are diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 55 and 84, according to the National Cancer Institute. As the baby boomer generation ages and the pool of older cancer patients increases, oncology nurses will become an even more important part of the healthcare workforce.

Education:      ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)

Certifications: RN and Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN®)

Nurse Informatics Specialist

Nursing informatics is a growing field that integrates nursing science with information technology to improve systems and processes for hospitals and large medical facilities. A nursing informatics specialist serves as a vital “technology liaison” for the hospital staff, while still performing typical nursing duties.

For example, their duties include analyzing data to identify and reduce risk of medical errors, or evaluating and implementing new workflow processes to improve patient care. As a nurse informatics specialist, you are a critical team member of a hospital’s nursing and IT staff.

Education:      BSN (required) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN – recommended for advanced roles)

Certifications: RN; some nurse informatics specialists also pursue advanced degrees in information technology or computer science.

Nurse Manager

Nurse managers are experienced nurse leaders who oversee a team of nurses and other healthcare staff. They help ensure positive patient outcomes and make it possible for an organization to achieve a higher standard of care.

Effective nurse managers must have a combination of strong leadership, critical thinking and communication skills to effectively manage teams and coordinate patient care. If you want to play a role in improving the standard of patient care, then a nurse manager might be the right position for you.

Education:      BSN (required), MSN or DNP (recommended for advanced roles)

Certifications: RN 

Nurse Educator

As more students seek entry to nursing degree programs, demand for skilled nurse educators is on the rise. In an academic setting, nurse educators design and implement continuing education programs for nursing students and practicing nurses.

In a hospital or other clinical setting, nurse educators help train nursing staff and other healthcare professionals. As experienced nursing professionals, nurse educators can identify opportunities to improve processes and mitigate risks to the patient, nurse and hospital.

Education:      Graduate-level Nursing Education Degree Program

Certifications: RN

Nurse Anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist is a special type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who is certified and trained in administering anesthesia to patients. They can provide care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, physician’s offices, rural and medically underserved areas and the military. They can also work in non-clinical settings as a teacher, researcher, or administrator.

Employment for nurse anesthetists is expected to grow in large numbers in years to come.

Education:      MSN, DNP

Certifications: Must pass the National Certification Exam (CNE) administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)

Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives are APRNs who provide prenatal, family planning and obstetric care. Often, they serve as primary caregivers for women and their newborns. They can also be involved in general wellness care for new mothers and babies, providing education on nutrition and disease prevention.

Education:      MSN

Certifications: Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) provide advanced care that includes health promotion, health prevention, wellness and disease management, as well as diagnosis and treating acute, chronic, and episodic illness. Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are a special type of NP that works with patients of all ages.

In some rural or medically underserved areas, NPs are increasingly becoming the front line for patient care

Education:      MSN – view our MSN programs for nurse practitioners

Certifications: State licensure requirements might vary

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