How to choose the right nursing specialization for you

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When we think of nurses, we often picture them rushing around the hospital, assisting those in need. We may recall the kind school nurse from our childhood or the nurse who treats us at the doctor’s office during our annual exam. While many nurses work in these settings, the career opportunities extend far beyond the emergency room and medical office. Various types of nurses work in multiple locations, and all play an essential role in the larger healthcare field.

The level of care that a nurse provides is determined by their level of preparation. Nursing is classified into non-degree, degree, and advanced degree.

  • Advanced degree – Advanced-degree nurses must have completed master’s or doctoral-level coursework. Advanced practice nurses (APNs) with master’s degrees include nurse practitioners (NPs), clinical nurse leaders (CNLs), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs), and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). Doctors of Nursing Practice (DNPs) or nursing PhDs are doctoral-level nurses.
  • Degree – This category commonly refers to registered nurses (RNs). RNs can hold an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from a hospital-based particular program. RNs with bachelor’s degrees have more career options than those with associate’s degrees.
  • Non-degree – Certified nurse assistants (CNAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are examples of nurses in this category. While these professionals do not have nursing degrees, they must undergo training and receive certification to perform their duties. For example, a CNA typically requires eight weeks of training, whereas an LPN requires a year-long program.

Nursing in the 21st century is the glue that holds a patient’s healthcare journey together. Nurses work tirelessly to identify and protect the individual’s needs throughout the patient experience and wherever there is someone in need of care. A highly specialized profession is constantly evolving to meet society’s needs, in addition to its time-honored reputation for compassion and dedication. Nurses are essential in protecting public health because they ensure the most accurate diagnoses and continue to educate the public about critical health issues.

When you read about the exploits of famous caregivers such as Florence Nightingale, it’s easy to be inspired to become a nurse. A nursing career allows you to make a difference in the lives of people in need. Nurses are the first responders who play a vital role in the healing process in various healthcare settings.

There are many specialized nursing professions worldwide, making nursing one of the most rewarding and diverse careers available. Some nursing roles are well-known, such as RNs, but what are the other various types available to you? With so many options, new and experienced nurses may be unsure which specialty is best for them. To assist, we have compiled a list of some types of nurses that employers are looking to hire, along with salary information, growth potential, and required nursing degrees.

Types of nurses

Here is a list of the most in-demand types of nurses, along with descriptions of what they do, and what education is required to become one:

  • Licensed practical nurse – Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) collaborate with RNs and physicians to provide primary nursing care to patients. Many new nurses begin their careers as LPNs to gain nursing experience before advancing to an associate (ASN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN). LPNs and their duties in long-term care settings such as rehabilitation centers, residential treatment centers, and hospices are in high demand as the population ages. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for LPNs is expected to grow by up to 9% by 2030.
  • Dental nurse – A dental nurse is someone whose job is to assist dentists in providing care to patients. Preparing equipment for use is part of their role. To become a dental nurse, you can either become an apprentice and learn on the job or begin your career by earning a bachelor’s degree in dentistry.
  • Community nurse – A community nurse cares for patients who are not hospitalized. They work in various settings such as nursing homes or prisons. Those needing non-emergency or in-patient care can rely on community nurses to meet their needs. A community nurse typically worked as an RN before transitioning into this role.
  • Adult nurses – Adult nurses provide person-centered care to adults of all ages. They assess, plan, coordinate and manage their patients’ care while collaborating with other health and social care professionals. Adult nurses can work in various settings, including hospitals and community services such as GP practices or district nursing. There are also positions available across multiple specialist services and residential and care homes.
  • Learning disability nurse – Many learning disability nurses work in community services. Still, there are also opportunities to work in hospitals and residential, educational, and specialist settings. These nurses assist people with learning disabilities to maintain their health and well-being and live as fully and independently as possible. They provide assistance, support, and guidance to families, caregivers, and friends, and collaborate with other health, social work, and education professionals.
  • Procurement nurse – Patients who donate an organ for transplant through living or deceased donation are cared for by procurement nurses. Procurement nurses who work with living donors prepare them for surgery and monitor their postoperative recovery, educating them before and after the procedure. Procurement nurses who work with deceased donors offer bereavement support to families and manage the patient’s care in an intensive care setting, optimizing organ function, finding recipients, and coordinating the organ recovery procedure in the operating room.
  • Medical-surgical nurse – Adult patients are directly cared for by these nurses in various settings. Medical-surgical (MS) nursing is frequently regarded as the foundation of healthcare. These professionals must perform a wide range of tasks and have excellent assessment, organizational, technical, and prioritization skills. MS nurses treat a wide range of illnesses, so they must be adaptable and provide comprehensive care.
  • Intensive care unit nurse – These RNs work in hospitals’ intensive care units (ICUs), where they provide complex care to patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses or injuries. ICU nurses, also called critical care nurses, may work in specialized hospitals or with patients of a specific age group, such as children in the pediatric ICU. Because of the complexities of this position, most hospitals require training or continuing education before hiring an RN in the ICU.
  • Clinical nurse specialist – The clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who is a thought leader in their field. They may focus on a specific patient population, such as geriatrics, or a type of care, such as emergency room services. In addition, they use their clinical knowledge to mentor and educate staff and patients.
  • Travel nurse – A travel nurse is an RN who travels to hospitals with staffing shortages and works in healthcare facilities on a short-term contractual basis. Travel nurses, as opposed to nurses who may stay in one location for years, move to facilities in need of staff, often working with travel nursing agencies to secure housing and manage logistics. Travel nurses can be highly specialized, even though they are typically employed temporarily. Travel nurses must obtain licensure in the state in which they work. If the nurse decides to work outside the country, this applies to state-by-state and international regulatory standards.

The nursing profession offers a diverse range of career options. Many of these paths enable professionals to work outside of traditional workplace settings such as hospitals and private practices. Toxicology nurses, prison nurses, and nutrition and fitness nurses are examples of non-traditional positions.

Which specialization is for you?

For some aspiring nurses, the answer is obvious. As they expressed an interest in nursing, they have known that they want to work in a specific facility or with particular types of patients. Others are only drawn to the broad concept of nursing. However, as the profession progresses, nurses are requiring more specialized skills and knowledge. As a result, specialty selection may become necessary, especially for those hoping to advance up the career ladder.

There are advantages and disadvantages within every sector of nursing. There are pros and cons of travel nursing, and benefits and drawbacks of procurement nursing. Consider your personality and why you want to be a nurse. The best nursing career for you is one that matches your personality. Do you enjoy working with children? If this is the case, then pediatrics is a no-brainer. Do you want to help patients throughout their lives? If so, then you could work in senior care. If you enjoy traveling and experiencing new things, then becoming a travel nurse could be a fun and rewarding option. Those who thrive in a fast-paced environment may choose a career in emergency services. Whatever you choose, if you enjoy helping people and getting a rush from restoring their health, then nursing is a promising career for you – regardless of specialty.

However, remember that no one personality type is ideal for nursing. Many nurses are naturally bubbly and cheerful, but others are calm, collected, or even stoic. These differences result in different ways of interacting with patients or dealing with stress. When the going gets tough, your natural personality style will bring out the best of your professional abilities, thanks to the ideal nursing niche. Nursing, in general, necessitates a high level of compassion. This is especially important for nurses who frequently deliver distressing news to patients and their families. Determine whether you can provide warm, empathetic care in those challenging moments before entering a high-emotion area such as oncology.

Nurses are usually well-organized and rational. In an emergency, they must remain calm and provide care as needed. In all its forms, nursing is not for the faint of heart. Compassion for others can help you become a nurse. You’ll be looking after people when they’re at their most vulnerable. Your empathy and positive attitude are frequently called upon.

Another thing to consider: shift work is quite common in nursing, particularly in hospital settings. Hospitals may also require weekend work. This is offset, however, by days off during the week. If you’re not used to it, then the schedule can be strange.

Final thoughts

Nursing is a vital profession that offers numerous opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare is the fastest-growing industry in the US today, with more job openings than any other occupation. Nursing accounts for the majority of healthcare workers in this field, and the number of RNs is expected to grow. Nurses are in high demand because they are needed in nearly every healthcare industry sector. That is one of the most appealing aspects of becoming a nurse. Not only will you have many job opportunities, but you will also have many different paths to take with your nursing career.

The wonderful thing about nursing is that you can change your specialty whenever you want. Some positions do necessitate specific experience, but this is easily obtained. It’s also important to remember that even if you don’t get the job in the specialty you want, you can always switch later. There is a vast world of nursing out there. It is not limited to hospital wards. Follow your heart, your dreams, and what you want to do.

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