The United States is facing a nursing shortage. A debate has been raging in recent years about what should be done to deal with this issue and many hospitals have gone as far as to push for implementing nurse-to-patient ratios on the front lines of the hospital.
While it’s true that having more nurses can be beneficial, there are certain positions that make an even bigger difference for patients.
If a hospital hires nurses with these specialties, they’re getting huge dividends in return from both the patient perspective and from their reputation as employers.
So how exactly do hospitals get their best nurses?
Nurses with critical care skills such as critical care nursing and intensive care nursing are crucial for a hospital’s staff. Having the right nurse in these roles will save lives.
Which Nursing Specialty is the Right Fit for You?
If you’re at the beginning of your nurse studies, you may not have considered all of the various paths your career could take or which specialty is right for you? As with any career choice, there are many varying paths to consider.
Here is an introduction to a few different nursing specialties and how they make a difference in the lives of their patients.
1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
A nurse anesthetist is an important role in hospital nursing. Directly helping a patient is a crucial service that this role provides.
The CRNA works with a nurse anesthetist, surgeon, nurse, and other medical professionals to stimulate patients while they are under anesthesia. It’s also the anesthesia provider of choice for pediatric surgery or non-cardiac surgery.
Nurses working in this field are paid well and the demand for CRNAs is expected to grow in the next decade.
2. Registered Nurse (RN)
A registered nurse is a position that provides direct care to patients 24 hours a day and offers a wide range of skills to give the best possible care while monitoring patient health. RNs can also supervise other nurses or healthcare professionals.
Depending on the organization they work in, their job duties can vary greatly but they will all focus on the health of their patients.
They may help patients with chemotherapy treatments, administer IVs or work with end-of-life patients in hospice facilities, for example.
3. Geriatric Nurse
Geriatric nursing is one of the specialties that makes a difference in the lives of both patients and the healthcare workers who treat them.
A Geriatric Nurse Practitioner (GNP) has a wide range of skills to provide direct care or care management to older adults. Because older adults are typically frail, having a nurse with the right expertise and experience is crucial to helping them overcome health problems often associated with aging.
This role is specialized in geriatrics, meaning it provides care for patients with long-term health issues like arthritis, dementia, and cancer.
Geriatric nurses can also help patients with rehabilitation and medication management.
4. Critical Care Nurses (CCN)
Critical care nurses play an important role in providing critical care to many patients. When a person is critically ill (meaning they are going through severe critical illness), their situation has become totally different from the person who was well before the critical illness occurred.
Critical care nurses work with doctors on the front lines to provide emergency treatment when a patient could die at any moment without emergency treatment.
A doctor might order a CT scan to help determine the problem, and the nurse takes care of getting that scan. Critical care nurses are also experts at using machines such as ventilators or providing life support to patients.
5. Oncology Nurse Specialist (ONS)
This specialty is for someone who loves helping people with cancer. Sometimes, having a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming for some people, especially those who are young or have never experienced a serious illness before.
An oncology nurse is an expert in caring for cancer patients and their unique needs. They have a keen understanding of the different types of cancer diagnoses, different stages of treatment, and what specific symptoms each stage can cause.
They communicate with patients throughout their treatment and make sure they understand every step along the way.
6. Neonatal Nurse (NN)
Neonatal nurses care for babies at the beginning of their lives when they are in the intensive care unit (ICU). Premature newborns are generally very small which means that they need very specialized medical attention to survive outside of the womb.
In fact, most babies who are born prematurely will be given neonatal intensive care treatment before going home so having a skilled nurse is critical for their survival.
This is a very stressful field and NICU nurses are constantly working with sick infants who may not survive.
Support systems must exist for these nurses because they can face many challenges every day as they work with very tiny babies who may or may not survive depending on their health problems.
7. Public Health Nurse
Public health nurses can help patients in many ways and they typically work in public settings such as schools, clinics, and prisons. Their main goal is to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, educate the public about health issues or help people understand how to best live with a certain disease.
If someone has a heart condition, their nurse might give them information on how to lead a healthy lifestyle or eat right to support their heart health while they’re recovering at home.
8. Pediatric Nurse (PN)
A pediatric nurse will specialize in caring for children from birth until 16 years old. They have a special skill for dealing with infants and children who don’t speak maturely yet. Pediatric nurses are trained to work with children in different age groups, including babies, young children, and teens.
They also have the ability to make a difference in the lives of their patients by helping parents understand the best way to care for their children.
9. Mental Health Nurse
The mental health nurse is an essential member of the healthcare team because they provide support to their patients while they’re dealing with mental illness. Mental health nurses are trained to recognize signs of depression and anxiety and treat patients with medication as well as talk therapy.
This is a challenging field because patients with severe mental illness often behave differently than other people, making it difficult for them to communicate what they need from their nurse.
10. Women’s Health Nurse
This nurse is trained to care for women’s health issues, including menopause and breast cancer. It takes years of experience to fully understand how best to manage a patient’s health concerns.
For many women, menopause is a scary time in their life when their health can be affected in many ways.
The first few months of life as a mother can be very challenging for everyone involved, but it can be especially tough for pregnant mothers who are trying to figure out how to care for their children without harming themselves.
There’s No Such Thing as a “One Size Fits All” when it Comes to Nurses
The nursing profession is so broad and diverse that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” nurse. Nurses can work at hospitals, doctor’s offices, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. They provide 24/7 care to a wide range of patients who might be older adults, babies, or people who are dealing with addiction.
Their jobs take them to so many different places and provide them with so much hands-on experience, that they can become experts in their fields by the time they reach retirement age.
As long as their interest in helping people doesn’t fade, there is no limit to how much a nurse can learn about the human body and how to treat it.
If you haven’t explored the wide variety of nursing jobs that exist, take some time to learn more about them by searching online and asking other nurses.
It can be difficult to find out what you want to do before you start your training and that’s okay, you can always change your mind later and decide on a different specialty because nursing is never boring, and there’s always something new to learn!
Conclusion: Why Is it Important to Choose Your Nursing Specialty Carefully?
Choosing a nursing career is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. There are so many options available when it comes to your specialty and you want to choose one that fits your interests, values, and personality in order to find a satisfying career.
Choosing the right nursing specialty can be overwhelming because there are so many options, but as long as you start by asking yourself the right questions about your career goals, you’ll be on the right track to being a successful nurse.
If you are already a nurse, you understand why it’s so important to choose your career with care. It’s so important to love what you do for a living because you’re going to spend 8 hours every day doing the exact same thing, and that can be draining if you’re in a frustrating setting.
This is why it’s so important to consider certain factors when choosing your nursing specialties such as the level of education, demand for nurses in the field, and expected salary.