7 Specialist Nursing Areas Worth Working In

Charlotte Miller

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Healthcare careers are offering unprecedented opportunities and growth. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an expected fifteen percent increase in healthcare job openings before 2029. The high demand for healthcare professionals includes a growing demand for specialist nursing career options for both registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses. Within the nursing career path, there are various different specialty areas available providing a fulfilling and rewarding work experience and competitive salaries. Specialty areas allow nurses to focus on a certain area of healthcare or work with a certain patient population. Some of the best nursing specialty areas that are worth considering right now include:

Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal nurses are in very high demand. This role is an advanced registered nurse role with specialist training to work with newborn babies in neonatal intensive care units. These infants often need highly specialist care for the first few days, weeks, or months of their life. Neonatal nurses care for babies who have been born prematurely or with problems like birth defects, genetic conditions, or drug dependency that need immediate and specialist care and attention after birth. Registered nurses who hold a BSN qualification can work as a neonatal nurse by getting the Neonatal Resuscitation Program certification. 

Trauma or Acute Care Nurse

Trauma and acute care nurses work in emergency rooms, critical care units, or are parts of emergency medical response teams to provide patients with care. They primarily work with patients who are in critical or life-threatening conditions in ICUs and other settings. To work in this role, you will need to receive specialist training to prepare for the work that you will be doing alongside physicians and other medical professionals to provide treatment to and stabilize patients whose lives may be hanging in the balance. Trauma and acute care nurses have a range of responsibilities including administering emergency medications, caring for life-threatening wounds, administering IV fluids and blood transfusions, monitoring vital signs, and operating life-saving equipment. Two years’ experience working as a registered nurse is required to work in this role, along with a Certified Trauma Nurse certificate, which you can gain from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. 

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Nurse Anesthetist

This role involves administering anesthesia and pain medication to patients. These specialist nurses monitor and observe patient vital signs and make adjustments when necessary. They are responsible for the care of patients before surgery, during a surgical procedure, and during the recovery period. They work with patients of all ages to administer anesthesia and pain medication for both emergency and scheduled surgical procedures. Since this is a highly specialist area of nursing, an MSN degree is usually required. You may want to study a degree program with a specialization in anesthesiology or complete a separate nurse anesthetist training program. You will also need to get a specialist certification and an advanced practice registered nurse license from your state. 

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse

A psychiatric mental health nurse is another advanced practice registered nursing role where you will be working with patients to assess, diagnose, and treat mental illness and disorders. Psychiatric mental health nurses work with patients who are suffering from conditions such as depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and dementia. Along with this, they will usually also play a vital role in treating and supporting patients who are struggling with substance abuse and addictions. This is an advanced practice nursing role that will usually require you to have gained a relevant MSN degree, along with an advanced practice registered nursing license for your state. 

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses that work with patients of all ages in general practice and other clinical settings. It is the most popular role for advanced practice registered nurses, especially as the demand for these professionals is rising due to the shortage of primary care physicians. A family nurse practitioner is trained to examine, diagnose, and treat their patients. In twenty-two states, they have full practice authority which gives them permission to do this without the supervision of a medical doctor, allowing them to start and run their own clinical practice. A minimum of an MSN is usually required to become a family nurse practitioner. An advanced family nurse practitioner training program from Baylor University and other specialist degree programs are worth considering to prepare yourself for this high-responsibility role. 

Oncology Nurse

Oncology nurses are responsible for the care of patients who are suffering from cancer. This career path will usually provide oncology nurses with the option to be specialists in a certain oncology subfield. This will usually involve looking after patients who have a certain type of cancer such as breast cancer or colon cancer, or a sub-category of patients such as pediatric cancer. Oncology nurses are responsible for identifying symptoms, administering chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, and monitoring the progress of their patients. It is also their responsibility to ensure that patients are comfortable and supported throughout their treatments.  A BSN and an RN license will permit you to get work as an oncology nurse. Some states require nurses to gain an Oncological Certified Nurse certificate. 

Pediatric Nurse

With many nurses finding that being able to make a difference in the lives of the youngest patients even more rewarding, pediatric nursing is a popular field to get into. This area of nursing focuses on meeting the healthcare needs of infants and children from birth up to young adulthood. Pediatric nurses often work in children’s hospitals, children’s departments in general hospitals, children’s outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices, and schools. You can become a pediatric nurse with a BSN and RN license, or work as an advanced practice pediatric nurse by getting a master’s degree in nursing, with many programs that specialize in pediatric nursing available. 

Nursing gives healthcare professionals the opportunity to work in a variety of specialty areas, with roles to choose from based on what you are passionate about or interested in the most. For many nurses, specialty areas give them the chance to learn new things and further their careers by working with a certain population of patients or a specific type of nursing that they have always had an interest in. 

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