Types of Nursing Careers and Specialties

Treyvon Kurr
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Nursing specialties allow you to develop a career that matches your personality, goals, and passions. Some nurses excel when working with a wide range of patients while others prefer to work with children, older adults, or those with a specific type of medical need.  

If you haven’t selected a specialty, now is the time to think about moving from a generalist to a specialist. There is a long and growing list of specialties available, and this list will highlight some of the most popular options. Specializing could help you get the best nursing pay rate while making your job more rewarding.  

The following list will introduce you to some of the leading nursing careers and specializations. If you’re ready to go back to school and elevate your career, specializing is an option to consider.  

Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) 

Chief Nursing Officer is a nursing career path for those interested in administrative or leadership positions. CNOs are responsible for coordinating and managing nurses at hospitals, rehab facilities, medical clinics, and other facilities. They often speak up on behalf of the nursing staff when there is an issue and are first in line to handle complex problems with nursing staff members.  

This nursing career path doesn’t involve much direct patient care. The role is more administrative and typically requires a master’s degree in nursing.   

Nurse Educator  

This is another nursing career option for those interested in helping other nurses more than providing direct care to patients. It doesn’t provide as much education as a CNO position and allows nurses to work in an academic rather than a medical setting. Nurse educators train and guide other nurses, so they often work at universities, community colleges, and nursing schools.  

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)  

Family nurse practitioners provide primary care to patients of all ages and with a wide range of medical needs. They work alongside primary care physicians to diagnose, treat, prevent, and monitor every patient’s overall health condition. They may also perform physical examinations and prescribe medication. Jobs are available in doctor’s offices and hospitals.  

Pediatric Nurse  

Pediatric nurses work with children of varying ages with a wide range of medical needs. Jobs are available in hospitals, pediatric doctor offices, and other medical facilities that serve children. This nursing specialty requires interaction with kids as well as their parents, guardians, siblings, and other caregivers.  

Critical Care Nurse  

Critical care nurses are trained to work with patients in emergency situations. The best nurses for this career path are those able to remain calm in intense situations. They commonly handle severe burns and injuries as well as open wounds. Operating life support systems is a job requirement in many facilities.  

Jobs are available in hospitals and some doctor’s offices. ER nursing is a similar nursing specialty, but nurses selecting that path will work specifically in an emergency room.  

Perioperative or Surgical Nurse  

Perioperative nurses work with patients before and after surgery. They are also known as operating room nurses in some facilities. The job includes setting up surgical rooms for upcoming procedures and managing surgical tools as well as caring for pre-op and post-op patients. Jobs are available in surgical centers, hospitals, and outpatient surgery facilities.  

Cardiac Care Nurse  

Cardiac nurses serve patients diagnosed with heart-related conditions. They often assist surgeons during bypass surgery and other procedures like pacemaker insertions. Jobs are available in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and with in-home care services. Some nurses may also work directly with surgeons, splitting their time between the hospital and clinical setting.  

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)  

CRNAs are among the highest-paid nurses in the country. They’re trained to help treat patients with anesthesia during medical procedures. As of August 29, 2022, the pay range was between $187,075 and $217,726 annually. Chief Nurse Anesthetists top that with an annual salary range between $220,301 and $257,068. Most jobs are available in hospitals and surgical facilities.  

Geriatric Nurse  

Geriatric nurses treat older adults and have specialized knowledge of health conditions that impact the elderly. They may focus more on quality of life than diagnosis and treatment of disease and illness, but long-term disease management is important as well. Many geriatric nurses work in nursing homes, but jobs are also available at hospitals, doctor offices, and in-home care services.  

Mental Health Nurse  

A mental health nurse specializes in patients with mental health needs. They understand how patients with complex mental illnesses may behave and can provide safe, effective treatment that keeps the patient as comfortable as possible in a variety of medical situations. Jobs are available in psychiatric facilities as well as hospitals and some rehabilitation centers.  

Nurse Midwife 

Nurse midwives work with pregnant women and often help during labor and delivery. They may see patients in a clinical setting for prenatal appointments and then assist at the hospital when it’s time to give birth. Minimal education is required for these nursing roles, making them excellent options for RNs entering the workforce with an interest in women’s health. Jobs are available in hospitals as well as doctor offices that cater to pregnant women.  

Get Your Nursing Career Started with MLee Healthcare  

Regardless of your chosen nursing career or specialty, MLee Healthcare can help you find nursing jobs with competitive pay and benefits. Start searching today or contact us with any questions.  

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