Nurses are hardworking individuals who are essential to their healthcare team. They provide comfort and support to patients and their loved ones as they go through treatment, as well as helping doctors, surgeons, and therapists to provide top-quality care. It is a role that comes with a lot of pressure, but also a lot of rewards, and it is easy to see why a lot of people are attracted to this role as a career. As well as having the satisfaction that you’re working in a job that is helping people and providing a service that the community needs, there are also a lot of options on where to take your career as a nurse. If you have been thinking about getting into nursing, here are a few of the specialist areas you can practice in if you want to get some more insight into the kind of work you can do in this role.
Love kids? If so, working as a pediatric nurse could be the perfect role for you. Helping the children on your ward feel comforted will certainly be rewarding, and you can have a lot of fun being silly to cheer them up. In this role, you will be observing how your patients are changing each day, whether they are responding positively to treatment or not. In addition, you’ll be liaising with doctors and other healthcare team members to help them deliver the best treatment plan for the patient, administering medication, and supporting parents and carers. However, it is important to remember that working with sick children can be very tough, especially if they are battling a life-threatening condition. Losing a patient at any age is difficult, of course, but it can be even more heartbreaking to see this happen to a child. Hopefully, this isn’t something that will often happen on the ward, but it is one of the more challenging aspects of the job that you will have to deal with from time to time.
Mental Health Nurse
If you are more interested in mental health issues, working in this field will make the most sense. As a mental health nurse, you will be responsible for helping patients during their recovery and learning how to manage their mental health issues constructively. You will be assessing them and their well-being, as well as making recommendations for talking therapies, support groups, helping with medication management, and encouraging them to do other activities that improve their overall mental health. In addition, a lot of mental health nurses work with those living with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and depression, anxiety, and trauma.
A Family Nurse Practitioner
Another option for you in your nursing career could be going on to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. Of course, you will need to get a specific qualification for this, but if you don’t mind dedicating some of your free time to studying, it could be a great move for you. As an FNP, you will be able to perform physical exams, diagnose patients, and write prescriptions for medication. In addition, you can develop treatment plans with your patients to make sure that they are getting the best care possible and offer them advice on what they can do at home to help their situation. You can work as an FNP in both hospital environments and smaller healthcare clinics if you prefer a quieter working environment.
Do you thrive in roles where you have a lot of responsibility and are in charge of a team of people? Then working your way up the career ladder to become a head nurse could be a good path for you to follow. In this role, you will be the one to organize shifts for your nursing team, liaise with the hospital’s management team regarding training, support, or complaints that your team members may have or even concerns patients have brought to your attention. In addition, you will carry out disciplinary action when the occasion calls for it and schedule regular staff meetings for your nursing team. You might find earning a master’s degree, or a DNP degree will help to put you in an ideal position for this type of job, as these courses can focus on leadership skills, clinical performance, and the improvement of patient care.
If working with kids and teenagers isn’t the right fit for you, working with senior citizens might be more suited to you. You could work as a geriatric nurse in hospitals, at nursing homes or assisted living facilities, or even become a private nurse to help care for patients in their homes. Typically, you will help them to manage any medication they might be taking, assisting with tasks such as getting dressed in the morning or helping them bathe safely. You might even be required to prepare their meals and help with household chores if you are visiting them at home. You will also be monitoring their cognitive functions, as well as whether or not they are struggling with things like mobility or signs of developing health issues.
At some point in your nursing career, you might want a change of pace and perhaps a different working environment altogether. If you do want to get out of the usual healthcare workplaces, you could always explore the option of teaching nursing to a new generation of healthcare professionals at a college, or even on other training courses for professional nurses. You can share your expertise and help to support future nurses on their journey into healthcare, strengthening their passion for caring for others.
Certified Midwife Nurse
Going through pregnancy and labor is a journey full of ups and downs, which is why those who are going through this experience need all the support they can get. As a nurse, you could choose to specialize as a certified nurse-midwife, helping expectant parents navigate the challenges of pregnancy and then being there to guide them through giving birth. You will also be helping patients with family planning, such as discussing contraception options, making referrals for infertility treatments, and counseling around topics relevant to birth and sexual health as just some examples of the responsibilities you can expect in this role.
Another option for a nurse who is looking to move into a specialist role is to work in orthopedics. Working in this position, you will focus on helping patients recover from an injury or surgery and regain their strength. You will fit casts, splints, and dressings for your patients, as well as give them advice on what they can at home to aid their recovery. As with any nursing role, there will be plenty of paperwork involved as you track your patient’s recovery process to make sure everything is going smoothly. However, it can be a less intensive nursing role rather than working in the emergency room, so if you want a more relaxed working environment this could provide that for you.
However, if you thrive in slightly more high-pressure working environments, perhaps assisting in surgeries as a theatre nurse will be the perfect fit for you? This job is certainly not for the faint of heart or squeamish (nor is nursing as a profession generally!), as you will be at the sides of surgeons as they perform operations and could be in the theatre for hours at a time. You will guide patients through pre-op procedures, which include assessing their health and fitness, explaining to them what is going to happen in the surgery, and discussing the risks involved with the procedure. You will also support the anesthetist, prepare equipment for the operation, and assist patients with their recovery.
As the name suggests, this specialty focuses on cardiovascular health, and you might recommend surgery or other treatment plans to patients who are struggling with their heart health. This includes telling them how they can change their diet and lifestyle to help their heart get stronger and improve their overall health more generally. You will monitor their progress and help patients during their recovery period if they have suffered from a heart attack or have recently come out of surgery. Speaking with their relatives to assist them with coping with these issues and supporting their loved ones through making these changes is also part of the job.
Being a nurse can be an incredibly rewarding, overwhelmingly challenging, and thrilling career. This is why those who choose to follow this path need to be resilient, compassionate, and patient if they want to succeed at it. If you have recently started your career as a nurse or are studying to be one, you might want to consider some of the specialty fields listed above to help you decide what your future steps might be in your healthcare career and which role you think you would be the happiest in. There will be time to figure this out at a later time too, but it’s always good to have some idea of where you’d like to end up.