If you’ve decided to become a nurse, the next thing you need to decide is what kind of nursing career you want to pursue.
Current nurses who are considering expanding their careers also have various opportunities in the wide range of specialty areas available in nursing.
If you are interested in becoming a nurse, you will be pleased to know that there are different types of registered nursing jobs that you can potentially pursue. This highly respected profession requires specific education and training, and the level of care that a registered nurse provides depends on the academic achievement, preparation and certifications they have attained.
While it may seem overwhelming to do so, it would be best to have an idea of what types of nursing role may best fit you or interest you before you invest a large amount of your time and money to obtain a nursing degree and license. The reason for this is because your educational attainment, certifications and experience combined will determine the nursing career path that you should take.
Benefits of Becoming a Nurse
A nursing career offers unlimited personal and professional growth and satisfaction. You are not only working at a job to support yourself and your loved ones, you are also choosing to spend your time helping others. In addition, one of the best things about becoming a registered nurse is that it is one of the most flexible professions, and one of the most in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.
Nursing Career Paths
There are hundreds of types of nurses, and it is important to remember that there are varying educational requirements, and often certifications, to achieve in order to pursue a particular career path in the field of nursing. All registered nurses are required to obtain licensure from the state where they plan to practice after they have completed an approved nursing program.
Below are some of the common nursing specialties:
- Ambulatory Care Nurse – These registered nurses provide preventive care and treatment to patients with a wide variety of illnesses and injuries, and whose stay in the hospital or other healthcare facility lasts for less than 24 hours. They also educate patients on how to manage their injury or illness at home. Ambulatory care nurses can work in ambulances, physicians offices, schools, workplaces, and in clinics, among others. You must be a qualified RN with a minimum of two years of experience in order to become an ambulatory care nurse. While there is no additional training required, certification is available and often preferred.
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – These are registered nurses and nurse practitioners with advanced training in pediatrics. A pediatric nurse practitioner provides healthcare to infants, children and adolescents. Some of their main duties include conducting physical exams; diagnosing common injuries and illnesses; administering treatment to patients; immunizing children; working closely with other healthcare professionals such as pediatricians or family doctors; recommending patients to other healthcare professionals when needed; and, educating and counseling to the families of their patients, among others. In order to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, you must be a qualified RN with several years of experience, preferably with experience working with children. Pediatric nurse practitioner programs take two years to complete, and after successful completion, students graduate with a Master’s Degree in Nursing. They must apply for the PNP certification exam and licensure in the state in which they intend to work.
- Critical Care Nurse – These registered nurses working in Intensive Care Units (ICU) in hospitals, providing care to those who have life-threatening injuries or illnesses. Critical care nurses are responsible for the close monitoring of patients and must be skilled in neonatal, adult and pediatric nursing practices. Critical care nurses working in a hospital may be assigned to work in such departments as ICUs, Pediatric/Neonatal ICUs, Emergency Rooms, or Cardiac Care Units. Their main duties include providing optimal care for critically ill patients and support for their families; constant monitoring of patients’ vital signs; constantly evaluating patients with life threatening illnesses; keeping emergency resuscitation skills up-to-date; and, performing high intensity therapies and interventions for the critically injured or ill. Only registered nurses can qualify to become critical care nurses, and although not required, most critical care nurses complete a critical care training course. Critical care training programs include extensive continuing education, clinical experience and a written examination. Most employers prefer to hire a Certified Critical Care Nurse due to the intensity of the skills required.
These are only some of the different types of nursing career paths which you can take as a registered nurse. Make sure to do your research well before you start your education and training in nursing school so you will have an idea of the existing career paths available to you.