Nursing Careers To Consider – ConsumersLocal
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Nursing Careers To Consider

One of the many benefits of being a Registered Nurse is the ability to shape your career to fit your interests. Your license allows you to develop your own path over time. As health care continues to change, so do exciting nursing opportunities, including choosing to specialize in a niche of medicine.

Experience in a specific area may be all you need to sit for a certification exam, while some nursing specialties require an advanced degree and more clinical time. If you decide to follow that route, you can often go at your own pace, without interrupting your job. If your employer offers tuition reimbursement, you’ll be able to climb the career ladder at little or no cost!

Even new RNs can choose to work in a specialty area

Here are ten specialties to consider as you begin your nursing career. No Master’s degree is necessary, just your interest in gaining experience in the area. In alphabetical order:

Cardiac Nurse

What you do: Provide care for clients with cardiac and pulmonary conditions, including assisting with diagnostic procedures, monitoring clients, and educating clients and families on prevention and managing their disease. Cardiac issues can occur any time during the lifespan, so you can choose to work with infants, children, or adults.

Why it’s a good specialty: Cardiac disease is responsible for 1 out of 4 deaths in the United States. The demand for cardiac nurses is expected to grow 16%, well above the average job growth rate. Work in hospitals, diagnostic centers, clinics, and rehabilitation.

Select it if: Cardiovascular medicine is constantly updating, so you’re working in a fast-paced area. Cardiac clients often face serious, life-threatening conditions that require precise treatment. Some clients will die from their illness, but you will have helped as much as possible. There are sub-specialties in this area, if you want to gain even more experience.

Critical Care Nurse

What you do: A critical care nurse is trained to monitor patients who need intensive 1:1 care. These patients are on life-support, with complex diagnoses. Depending on the hospital, there can be specific Intensive Care Units: burn, cardiac, neonatal, neuro, surgical, trauma, etc. Nurses work closely with physicians, reporting even slight changes in the patient’s condition. They perform skilled diagnostics and administer carefully-calculated medications.

Why it’s a good specialty: There is always a need for nurses who can give total care to the seriously ill or injured. Job growth is projected to be 19%.

Select it if: A critical care nurse must be organized and efficient. Attention to the tiniest detail is necessary; sometimes the nurse will sit at the bedside, giving minute-to-minute care. The work is challenging, but satisfying. Patients are transferred to step-down units when they stabilize, so there is limited opportunity to develop patient-nurse relationships.

Emergency Department/Trauma Nurse

What you do: Immediate care and triage of patients means the ED/Trauma nurse must respond quickly, often without full knowledge of the situation or the patient’s history. Evaluating and stabilizing a patient, as well as administering medication and treatment, in coordinated team work with other departments. All ages and types of admissions come through the ED.

Why it’s a good specialty: Hospitals and health care organizations are expanding emergency services and clinics. Free-standing 24/7 centers mean a growing need for nurses. Job growth is expected to be about 16%.

Select it if: High-pressure and constantly changing, the ED is for nurses who enjoy a fast-paced environment. Every shift is different, as is every patient. From fevers to every type of trauma to patients who have no chance of survival, the nurse provides care for a full range of patients.

Geriatric Nurse

What you do: Working with the aging population, a geriatric nurse provides a full range of care, from physical to psychosocial. Clients with chronic conditions, dementia, or Alzheimer’s require ongoing care; families are included in the treatment plans. Geriatric nurses work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, memory centers, and home health. They coordinate care with other providers: physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, physical therapy, etc.

Why it’s a good specialty: With baby boomers growing older, the demand for geriatric care is going to continue. Job growth is anticipated to be 15% or higher.

Select it if: Elderly people require careful attention and patience. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, in comfortable settings. Establishing relationships with clients and their families, and working to preserve health and independence, make this a rewarding specialty.

Hospice/Palliative Nurse

What you do: A hospice (also called palliative) nurse cares for terminally ill clients to ensure that death is dignified. Although hospitals can have a designated hospice unit, clients often choose to be at home, with their families. The goal of hospice is not to cure, but to support with proper pain management and supplemental care from the healthcare team, clerics, and others that are important to the client.

Why it’s a good specialty: As society recognizes that death should be supported as much as other life events, hospice has become a welcome way to end life. Because baby boomers are aging and approaching death, there will be a continued demand for hospice. Job growth is anticipated to be about 19%.

Select it if: If you are comfortable with the inevitability of end-of-life, you can provide support and comfort to those who are dying. Their families require the same. You will develop close ties and then lose them to death. Hospice nurses often feel they are “called” to do this work.

Oncology Nurse

What you do: Clients of all ages get cancer. Working with these clients and their families, an oncology nurse provides emotional support while administering chemotherapy, treating symptoms, and monitoring progress.

Why it’s a good specialty: Until a cure for cancer is discovered, there will be a demand for oncology nurses. The job growth outlook is about 20%. Nurses can find work wherever they choose and can specialize in an area of treatment: pediatric, chemotherapy, radiation, etc.

Select it if: Working in oncology is demanding, but satisfying, because of the emotional investment by the nurse. Nurses can develop close ties to clients and families. Depending on the cancer, clients can die, so you should be comfortable with end-of-life care. The nurse knows they have helped maintain the dignity and quality of life for that client.

Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse

What you do: Psychiatric nurses focus on the mental health of clients, their families, groups, and the community. Nursing diagnoses, care plans, assessments, therapeutic interventions, and contributing to the healthcare team are part of the responsibilities.

Why it’s a good specialty: As healthcare recognizes mental illness to be as significant as physical illness, the need for psychiatric nurses grows. You can work in hospitals, clinics, schools, long-term care facilities and in government positions. There are also sub-specialties to choose from: pediatric, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health.

Select it if: Although mental health nursing is not as physically challenging as other specialties, it is a demanding area of nursing. One in five Americans suffers from a mental illness. Helping clients learn to cope and function with their chronic condition can be rewarding.

Public Health Nurse

What you do: Public health nursing involves extensive teaching, providing resources for assistance, and working with communities, rather than individuals. Everything from putting (Examples: Vaccinations, obesity, STDs, and diabetes) programs in place, to identifying community risk factors, to disaster preparation can be part of the public nurse’s duties.

Why it’s a good specialty: As healthcare organizations continue to change models, the need for public health services grows. Projected need is 19%. Public health nurses can be employed by government agencies or local communities.

Select it if: Working with under-served populations is both challenging and satisfying. If you like looking at “the big picture” and can work independently, without direct supervision, this could be a good fit.

Surgical/Perioperative Nurse

What you do: Participating in all aspects of the surgical process, the nurse sets up the operating room, preps the patient, assists the surgeon with instruments and supplies, clears the room, and documents the procedure. The nurse may also provide pre-and post-care for the patient.

Why it’s a good specialty: Surgery and the operative process has expanded from the hospital setting to outpatient surgi-centers. According to AORN, perioperative nurses are the 6th highest specialty in demand, and post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurses are the 9th highest.

Select it if: Meticulous attention to details and the ability to remain calm under stress are key for a surgical nurse. Surgery has become high-tech, and is always changing, so flexibility and willingness to learn are important. There can be limited contact with patients; nurses work more closely with the surgeons and other team members.

Travel Nurse

What you do: Going from one hospital (or clinic, private practice, or outpatient facility) to another, travel nurses work with an agency to secure a contract for a set amount of time. The nurse can work in a specialized area or as a generalist. They receive an hourly rate, plus a living stipend for the duration of the contract.

Why it’s a good specialty: Hospitals and other health care settings are experiencing constant gaps in staffing. With so many other options for nurses, plus the number of retiring baby boomer nurses, the demand is expected to grow by 15%.

Select it if: Working in different cities and healthcare settings can build your career. If you like the idea of living in a new place, are flexible and willing to “start over” with every contract, and like to explore your surroundings, becoming a travel nurse can be perfect. Note: A year of hospital experience is usually required before applying to be a travel nurse.

As you begin your nursing career, take time to consider what specialty interests you. There are hundreds of areas of practice, including some that don’t have direct care: Informatics, Risk Management, and Health Policy. Search for the related organizations to help you learn more. And remember that nursing allows you to change your path, so if your initial choice isn’t a good fit, keep looking.



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