There are many different nursing specialties, in fact, there are over three hundred specialties to choose from. Many nurses come to a point in their career when choosing a specialty make sense for many reasons.
Choosing to become specialized in one particular area is the way nurses gain the right to work in the area they have the most passion for. And although becoming specialized requires more advanced education (either in the form of a graduate program or advanced specialty classes), it also has the benefits of a higher salary and prestige. It opens many more doors of opportunity for the nurse who wants to further her career. In some cases you can start working in the department you wish to become specialized in first - not only to gain experience in the area, but also to make sure it's truly the position you desire. Once someone decides on a specialty, they can often take higher education courses in their spare time while still working to support themselves.
When choosing to specialize, it's important to ask yourself some questions. What age group do you prefer to work with? What types of facility do you want to work in? How flexible do you want your work schedule to be? Are you willing to move to get the position you desire? Thoughtfully answering these questions should help guide you towards the specialty that's right for you.
Choosing to become specialized can signal the beginning of a new career. Just as entry level nurses enter the field right after school and then work their way up, specialized nurses will have to do the same thing. Once you've earned your certificate and entered a new professional level, you'll have the opportunity to continue to grow in your career path. For example, instead of just working as a specialized pediatric nurse, why not work towards running the entire department? Or maybe you could work toward being the chief nurse for children in the intensive care unit. There is almost no path that you can't keep moving forward on within any level of nursing.
In fact, nurses can combine specialties and create their own niche within nursing. For instance, maybe you want to become specialized in pediatrics because you love working with children, but also have a passion for cancer patients. You can satisfy both passions by becoming a pediatric oncology nurse working only with cancer patients who are children.
Most specialties allow nurses to keep moving forward in their career paths after becoming specialized, and this ensures that nurses will continue to grow, learn and advance within the nursing field. Here's a look at some of the specialties you'll have to choose from.
Did You Know? According to a World Health Organization report, of the estimated 136 million women who give birth every year, around 58 million did so naturally with a midwife and little to no evasive medical assistance during childbirth.
Emergency Room Nurse
An emergency room or ER nurse is one who works in the fast-paced emergency room and has a wide range of patients and duties. From young to old, from broken toes to fatal accidents, ER nurses see it all and do it all.
Oncology is the study of cancer and an oncology nurse provides care and treatment to patients with cancer. While some choose to work with a specific type of cancer, other nurses work with all types in the general oncology department.
This type of nurse works with doctors (or dentists) to help with anesthesia before a procedure and or during a patient's surgery. They play a critical part in after care as well so they are with patients before, during and after surgical procedures.
Critical Care Nurse
Also known as ICU nurses, these specialists deal with trauma and life-threatening illness or events in critical care units. This work is intense but very rewarding. It also may require helping family members deal with the loss of a loved one.
Women's Health Nurse
A fast growing specialty, these nurses work in the area of women's health and all the issues related specifically to women and their bodies. The care covers any stage of a women's reproductive cycle from menstruation to menopause and everything in between.
These nurses work with patients who are experiencing some sort of mental illness and are under the care of a psychiatrist. They work with both inpatient and outpatients to provide quality care.
If you like working with children and young adults, this might be the specialty career for you. Pediatric nurses work with children of all ages, from 28 days old to 18 years old. They deal with anything from a common cold to broken bones.
These types of nurses help expectant mothers deliver their babies naturally. They work both in hospitals and at patient's homes, and provide the most natural birth possible for mother and child. The specialty is currently dominated by women, with only about 2 percent of men in the field.
These are just a few of the areas that nurses can specialize in. Can you imagine any other career where you can literally design your own path and create a job that is tailored just for you?
Did You Know? The top five paying nursing specialties are: certified registered nurse anesthetist, nurse researcher, psychiatric nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife and pediatric endocrinology nurse.
Now that we've touched on the basics of nursing and some of the career paths that you can take, let's look at some specifics. On the next few pages, we'll take an in-depth look at some nursing jobs and tell you what to expect in responsibilities, training and degrees, salary, benefits and more.