Nursing is one of the most trusted healthcare professions. The role of nurses is as important, if not more, than that of doctors. The American Nursing Association (ANA) calls nursing the glue that holds a patient’s healthcare experience together. The two-faceted role of medical assistant and caregiver played by nurses is demanding and rigorous, with extended hours, difficult working conditions, and a high risk of infection. Regardless, nurses uphold the honor of their profession and work day and night to help and take care of patients.
Becoming a nurse is a grueling process, not much easier than becoming a doctor. Due to the sensitive nature of the work, a nurse’s job is highly specialized, and nurses are trained extensively in medicine and healthcare. However, the inner dedication of nurses pushes them to keep soldiering on in the face of adversity. The best example is the COVID-19 pandemic, when all frontline health workers, including nurses, stood firm and treated infected patients without fear for their own lives.
Nurses also have a prominent role to play outside the hospital, where they work as private caregivers or spread awareness regarding healthcare. Today, nurses can choose from several career pathways by specializing in their area of interest. With that said, let’s look at some specialty career choices for nurses interested in taking the next step in their careers.
- Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
One of the most important specialties in nursing is critical care. Critical care nurses are highly trained professionals responsible for handling sensitive and high-risk cases and independently undertake tasks such as wound cleaning, blood infusions, medicine administration, etc. If this area interests you, you can opt to work as a critical care nurse practitioner after completing an MSN degree with a specialization in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. The job includes dealing with critical patients, i.e., those with a life-threatening disease or injury.
- Family Nurse Practitioner
The family nurse practitioner is one of practicing nurses’ most commonly chosen specialties. A family nurse practitioner’s primary responsibilities include performing diagnostic tests, examining symptoms in patients, developing personalized care plans, and treating patients with acute and chronic illnesses. The minimum education requirement is an MSN degree to pursue a career as a family nurse practitioner.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is a highly specialized nursing practice responsible for administering anesthesia to patients before surgery. A CRNA also provides special care to patients recovering from anesthesia and is responsible for monitoring their progress. To become a CRNA, you must work for a minimum of 2 years as a critical care nurse and then pass the CRNA national certification exam.
- Certified Nurse Midwife
A certified nurse midwife’s job role includes providing prenatal and postnatal care to women and assisting in delivery. Also, their responsibility includes monitoring newborns. In recent years, there has been a rise in demand for nurse midwives as women now prefer natural delivery outside of a hospital setting. Certified nurse midwives must earn a graduate degree specializing in midwifery and obtain a certificate from the American Midwifery Certification Board. There is a high demand for certified nurse midwives in birthing centers and public health clinics.
- Military Nurse
There is always a need for healthcare professionals in the military, including nurses. Those who are passionate about serving their country can pursue a career as a military nurse. Although a difficult and high-risk role, the job of a military nurse comes with all military benefits, as well as the fulfilling feeling of playing a part in protecting your country. Military nurses can be posted in on-field or off-field settings, depending on the requirement, where they treat and care for military personnel and their families in military healthcare facilities.
- Geriatric Nurse
Geriatric nurses are specialized nurses who care for and treat old-age patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Geriatric nurses are trained to work with diseases that commonly affect the elderly such as Dementia, Alzheimers, Arthritis, etc. In addition, geriatric nurses are responsible for looking after their patients’ mental and emotional health as the risks of mental illness increase substantially with age. The minimum requirement to pursue the role of a Geratic nurse is RN licensure and a BSN degree.
- Home Healthcare Nurse
As the name implies, a home healthcare nurse provides care and treatment outside the usual clinical environment at patients’ homes. They oversee patients’ treatment and medications, conduct tests and monitor their vital signs, administer IVs, change bandages, clean wounds, and provide primary care.
- School Nurse
The National Association of School Nurses recommends that all schools should have a primary healthcare unit and a school nurse. Hence, pursuing a career as a school nurse can be a lucrative pathway to choose. School nurses can work in private and public educational institutions at all levels and provide primary treatment and care to students. The job responsibilities of a school nurse include treating minor injuries such as bruises and ailments such as headaches, period cramps, etc. To become a school nurse, you need to hold an RN license or an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in nursing.
- Forensic Nurse
Forensic nurses work with survivors and victims of crime and abuse. They work closely with law enforcement as they identify signs of violence and abuse on a victim’s body in rape, murder, assault, etc. Also, they are responsible for delivering medical evidence in criminal cases. In addition, forensic nurses provide care and treatment (if required) to victims during their recovery period.
- Nurse Administrator
If you have a nursing degree but wish to work in a more administrative capacity, you can become a nurse administrator. Nurse administrators look after the facility’s management and administration of nursing staff. Their work is akin to an office administrator responsible for looking after the staff, managing shifts, hiring, recruiting, training staff, and all other administrative tasks within healthcare organizations.
Nursing is a highly rewarding and noble profession that is no longer confined within the hospital’s boundaries. Nurses today provide and promote healthcare from various other settings, such as schools, offices, and homes. If you are a nurse looking for your specific calling, make your decision solely based on your interests and priorities. Whichever specialization you pick, it will be a service to humanity.