The field of medicine is one of the most diverse industries out there. As some of the most critical healthcare workers in that industry, nurses play a critical role in the world of medicine. Due to all the different jobs that need fulfilling in healthcare, nurses have a variety of career paths available to them. Some of these positions require a specific amount of experience for a nurse to be qualified enough to pursue, but most tracks involve nurses to earn advanced degrees. This is mainly due to how specialized individual tracks can be.
If you are currently a qualified registered nurse (RN) who is looking to explore what the options are for your future career, here are four different nursing specialties that you can pursue.
A nurse-midwife is a nurse practitioner that is trained in providing healthcare to expectant mothers. Not only that, but they assist in the delivery of babies as well as provide care to mothers post-delivery. Every pregnancy is unique as is every mother and baby that a nurse-midwife works with. Due to the diversity of the vulnerable patients and the required care that is catered to their specific needs, the job of a nurse-midwife is complicated and demands patience, empathy, and compassion, not to mention the ability to effectively communicate.
Probably the most relevant job that a nurse-midwife has is to help mothers through the labor and delivery of their babies. Such a process is often emotional and can turn from a routine situation to an emergency one without much warning. Nurse-midwives must be prepared to handle anything that can occur during a labor and delivery.
To become a nurse-midwife, an RN must earn a doctorate in nursing. These are challenging programs and for a good reason. While it might seem daunting to consider earning a doctorate while continuing to work as a nurse, there are plenty of excellent online DNP programs that are designed to help you do just that.
2. ICU Nurse
Intensive care units in hospitals across the country require experienced and qualified ICU nurses to care for patients in critical situations. Often fast-paced, no two days working in the ICU are the same. Trauma and critical care patients need constant care, so the nurses working in such environments must be prepared for anything. The hours that ICU nurses must work are long and generally spent on one’s feet.
While an advanced degree is not necessary to pursue a career as an ICU nurse, an RN wishing to work in critical care will need a year or two of experience working with critical care patients. Furthermore, you will need to earn an appropriate certification from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
If you do wish to advance in your career as an ICU nurse, later, there are several different options available for master’s degrees. There are even doctoral programs available for those who wish to take their careers even further. With the ability to specialize in pediatric, neonatal, or adult critical care, ICU nurses have many choices that they can choose from, depending on their preference for specialty.
3. Nurse Anesthetist
One of the best paying specialties that an RN can pursue is that of becoming a nurse anesthetist. Nurses who can obtain the right amount of experience and education in this specialty can stand to earn a salary of around $160,000 per year. Because this is a tempting number, many nurses aspire to follow this career track.
It is not an easy track to follow, though. Not only will you need to gain years of experience in the field, but you will also need to earn a master’s degree. Once you have fulfilled these requirements, you will need to gain certification as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). This certification is obtained through an exam offered by the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. Only RNs who gain this certification can practice this specialty.
The job of a nurse anesthetist involves the administering of anesthesia to patients to prepare them for a procedure or for surgery. This isn’t all that these nurses must do, however. In addition to knowing how to administer this powerful medication, they must also monitor their patients before, during, and after their procedures to make sure that there are no adverse reactions occurring. This can be a delicate process, which is why the path to becoming a nurse anesthetist is a difficult one to follow.
4. Home Health Nurse
While home health nurses tend to earn less than the average salary of practicing RNs, their job is not an easy one. It is comprised mainly of providing healthcare to patients who are confined to their homes for some reason or another. These patients might be pediatric, adult, or geriatric patients depending upon what specifically the nurse is trained to do.
While a lot of the healthcare that home health nurses provide is standard care, such as the administering of medications or the tending to injuries, they must also be trained and comfortable in overseeing the mental health of their patients. This can be challenging, depending on what the specific cases may be. Still, the ability to cater to patients who are unable to leave their homes is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling job for a nurse.
You do not have to obtain an advanced degree at the level of a master’s or doctorate to become a home health nurse. Any RN with either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree can do this job. The only requirement is that you need to have the right amount of training for the types of cases that you will be handling. Those who wish to do so can pursue a master’s degree to become a clinical nurse specialist. Such a step would allow for the opportunity to become more of a leader in this specialty, something that can increase one’s earning potential as well as their career trajectory.