Are you interested in starting a career in nursing? Even if you have never considered this career path before, it can be a surprisingly fulfilling field to get into. If you are already a nurse, you may be wondering how you can develop your career path and move into a more specialized nursing role. But what nursing specialties are there that are available for you to pursue? In this guide, we will explore the different nursing specialties that you can choose from to give you an idea of what your options are, whether you are new to the profession or are more experienced.
There is a huge number of different parts of the body, and a huge number of different health conditions that occur, so it makes sense that there are many different types of specializations within nursing. No individual nurse is an expert on everything!
Is Nursing the Right Career Path for You?
While there are many different types of nurse, there are some skills that are required across the entire profession of nursing. For example, you will have to be hard working, able to work well under pressure, and caring toward other people if you want to become any kind of nurse. If you have these skills, then the nursing profession may be the right career path for you.
How to Start Your Career in Nursing
Starting a career as a nurse is accessible to many different people from all walks of life. Although it typically takes a couple of years to become a Registered Nurse (otherwise known as an RN), the good news is that a lot of the work that goes into achieving this qualification is on-the-job training that you can be paid for. This means that you do not have to wait ages to be able to start working as a nurse.
If you are wondering where to find courses that offer nursing qualifications, institutions like Marymount University Online enable you to take these courses remotely, wherever you are in the world.
What Different Types of Nurse Are There?
So, what different nursing specialties are there? Here is a list of nursing positions that is extensive but by no means exhaustive—these are some of the most common nursing specialties, but there are also plenty of more specific roles that are not mentioned here.
Paramedics respond to emergency situations and often administer life-saving treatment to injured people. Paramedics often work in ambulances or at the site of accidents or incidents. To be a paramedic requires a higher ability to stay calm and effective under pressure than perhaps any other type of nurse does. The average salary of a paramedic nurse in the US is around $39,000 a year.
Also often known as a children’s nurse, a pediatric nurse focuses on treating patients who are under the age of 18. A pediatric nurse analyzes a patient’s individual development, medical history, and other factors including their family circumstances. This speciality can pose tricky situations that other nursing specialties do not, such as communication with parents and advocating for children’s needs. The average wage of a pediatric nurse in the US is around $35 a year.
A geriatric nurse focuses on treating elderly patients. This type of nurse often has to travel to different locations and work in different environments such as hospices, care homes, and emergency rooms. A geriatric nurse also tends to work alongside doctors and carers, so it is important for them to have good communication skills. A caring and patient nature and friendly demeanor are essential traits for a geriatric nurse. The average wage for a geriatric nurse in the US is around $48 an hour.
If you are interested in working in an educational environment, a school nurse may be the right nursing speciality for you. School nurses work in schools, from elementary schools to high schools, to provide urgent healthcare treatment to pupils. The average salary of a school nurse in the US is around $51,000 a year.
Community nurses specialize in providing healthcare assistance to people who are less able to attend a hospital or surgery, such as elderly or disabled people. Because of this, the role often involves traveling and working in different environments such as patients’ homes.
Military nurses work closely alongside the armed forces in order to provide potentially life-saving medical care to soldiers. Not all military nurses act as frontline medics treating wounded soldiers on the battlefield (although this is itself a speciality); most military nurses don’t work on the frontlines and instead treat military personnel who are suffering all kinds of health conditions. The average US Army nurse earns a salary of around $73,000 a year.
Care Home Nurse
While working as a nurse in a care home typically has a much lower bar of entry to clear than other healthcare professions, it also typically pays around minimum wage. Working as a care home nurse is best-suited to people who have a high level of empathy and people skills.
Like a care home nurse, working as a nurse in a hospice requires a high level of empathy, both with patients and with their family members who may visit, who you may be in regular communication with. A hospice nurse focuses more on end-of-life care than on emergency operations or medical procedures. While a hospice nurse is a highly emotionally demanding job, the salary is high, with a US average of around $84,000 a year.
Orthopedic nursing can be a particularly suitable speciality for those who want to avoid fast-paced, high-pressure working environments such as emergency rooms. Orthopedic nurses work alongside patients to help them recover from injuries or surgeries as quickly as possible so that they can return to normal life. As well as fitting casts and changing dressings, orthopedic nurses are often required to provide reassurance and personal motivation to patients during the healing process. The average salary of an orthopedic nurse in the US is around $96,000 a year.
It is not just physical health that requires the attention of nurses. Psychiatric nurses assist patients with mental health issues from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. This role can be extremely demanding, and requires a very high level of personal skills, as well as training. Psychiatric nurses often travel to the homes of patients, and also work on psychiatric wards. The average salary of a psychiatric nurse in the US is around $76,000 a year.
A respiratory nurse is a nurse that focuses on the lungs and breathing-related functions of patients. Because many respiratory conditions are chronic, working as a respiratory nurse can mean providing regular care for each patient over a very long period of time. This entails building rapport and understanding with each patient and monitoring their health closely in order to develop a treatment plan. A respiratory nurse is one of the highest-paid nursing roles, with an average US salary of around $102,000 a year.
Theater nurses assist patients before, during, and after operations. They assess patients and make sure that they are informed about the procedure, they administer anesthetics, prepare the equipment needed to carry out surgery, and finally assist the patient during their recovery. The average salary of a theater nurse in the US is around $79,000 a year.
Sexual Health Nurse
A sexual health nurse advises and treats patients on all aspects of sexual health, from safe sex to reproductive and pregnancy-related issues. Due to the potentially embarrassing nature of this field, a sexual health nurse must have plenty of people skills and make patients feel comfortable to share information. The average salary of a sexual health nurse in the US is around $60,000 a year.
Midwifery is one of the most popular specialties of nursing. Midwives are responsible not only for delivering babies, but for providing care, support, and advice for mothers and babies during pregnancy, labor, and immediately after the birth. This role requires a high level of empathy and the ability to offer emotional support. The average salary of a midwife nurse in the US is around $10,000 a year.
A neonatal nurse specializes in looking after newborn babies. This can include looking after and administering medication and treatment to babies who have been born prematurely or who are suffering from conditions that require them to spend time in a neonatal ward. Of course, this role requires not only expertise in treating newborn babies, but also the ability to reassure parents who are worried about the health of their babies. The average salary of a neonatal nurse in the US is around $64,000 a year.
A cardiology nurse specializes in treating cardiovascular (heart-related) issues such as heart attacks. This can entail medication, surgery, and/or lifestyle advice such as nutrition plans. Aftercare is a huge factor when it comes to cardiology, so people skills and the provision of support to patients are essential. The average salary of a cardiology nurse in the US is around $58,000 a year.
Critical Care Nurse
Critical care nurses work on ICU (Intensive Care Unit) wards in order to treat patients with life-threatening conditions. This role requires constant monitoring of patients, so attention to detail and the ability to multitask are essential. The average salary of a critical care nurse in the US is around $77,000 a year.
A research nurse is more likely to work in a laboratory than on a hospital ward, as they are trained to assist with the development and testing of new medications and treatments. A highly specialized skill, this role is ideal for those interested in the more scientific and theoretical side of healthcare. The average salary of a research nurse in the US is around $80,000 a year.
How to Find the Nursing Speciality That Suits You
With so many different nursing specialties available for you to consider, it can be very difficult to know how to come to a conclusion! To help you to find the best nursing speciality for you, there are a few different factors that you should consider.
Consider Your Skills and Qualifications
Of course, the specific skills and qualifications that you have will affect what kind of nursing role you will be able to pursue. Some roles require minimal experience, while others (typically the higher-paying nursing roles) may require many years of study and work in order to get.
Thankfully, nursing degree courses typically feature on-the-job training, which often allows you to earn an income while studying for the qualification.
Consider Your Required Income
Of course, when considering the ideal nursing role for you, it is important to consider what kind of income you require. If you want to make more money for luxuries, a highly specific role that requires a high level of expertise and experience is what you will want to aim for. If, on the other hand, you do not have many expenses to cover, you may be able to be more flexible with your choices.
Consider Your Ideal Work-Life Balance
One of the main potential downsides of a career in nursing is the long working hours that almost all nursing positions involve. If you are looking for a career that gives you lots of free time and requires not too much of your life, nursing is most likely not the ideal field for you to forge a career path in.
Consider If You Are Willing to Relocate
Depending on the nursing role, you may need to relocate somewhere else. You may need to move closer to the hospital that you work at, for example. If you are working in a highly specialized field, the number of institutions that offer the service that relates to your job role may be low, prompting you to travel long distances! When choosing a role, consider whether you are willing to relocate for the job, or if your own commitments make a workplace that is closer to home more ideal.
Nursing is not an easy profession, whatever specific role you choose within the field. It typically requires long hours and hard work. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding vocations out there. The feeling of really making a direct positive difference to people’s lives is the main factor that drives people to become nurses.
If you want to become a nurse but are not yet sure what speciality to pursue, do not worry—there are plenty of opportunities to get into nursing, and plenty of room for career progression and refinement once you are in the job. Starting as a general RN can also help you to work out which aspects of the job you enjoy and are drawn to pursue further, and which aspects are not ideal for you.