So You Want to Be a Nurse — But What Type?

Nurses provide focused and highly personalized care in a wide range of professional positions. From entry-level practitioners to doctoral-level researchers, professionals in this field are in high demand since they promote health, prevent disease and help patients cope with illness. It’s clear why you would want to go into this field of health care, but what you might not know yet is which specialization you should choose.

Addressing the Nursing Shortage

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted an 800,000 nurse shortage by the year 2020. To address this shortage, most places of employment are eager to sign on and keep nurses through offering bonuses and incentives. The BLS has the median wage for nurses at $50,000, and with the demand for nurses it goes up dramatically when factoring in holiday and weekend shifts.

For those who don’t want to work full-time, nursing is a great option because of the job flexibility it offers. You could work as a temporary hire, part time or full time. You can move from place to place and work longer shifts to have more days off.

The promise of career advancement makes nursing an attractive option as well. Nurses can work anywhere — in hospitals or doctor’s offices from urban to rural areas, even overseas with medical organizations. And there are many options for advancement, from consulting with the legal system to become a researcher.

Choose Your Nursing Specialization

Once you are a professional nurse, you might choose to focus in on a specialty. There are over 200 options for nurses to earn an additional certification, which can increase salary and demand. Some options include:

Registered Nurse (RN) – Taking care of patients is a primary duty for all nurses, but RNs also work in other areas. They help establish nursing practices, develop quality assurance protocols and conduct clinical research. RNs can have a specialty option, which requires additional education.

Clinical Nurse Specialist – Many nurses will go back to school and earn a master’s or doctoral degree in a specialized area. A few examples of those may be pediatric, critical care, oncology or even psychiatric. Clinical nurse specialists who work with patients provide direct patient care and serve as consultants for nursing staffs, with a focus on improving the system.

Nurse Educator – For those who enjoy teaching, a career as a nurse educator would be a great fit. These registered nurses have advanced degrees and then take on the task of training future nurses. They may teach general or specialized nursing courses and stay up to date on all the latest methods and technologies.

Nurse Midwife – Nurse midwives provide care throughout the entire prenatal and postpartum experience. They also provide gynecological services to women of all ages, can write prescriptions and are key in patient education.

Nurse Practitioner – As a nurse practitioner, your responsibilities would include overall health for your patients, throughout their entire lifespan. Some of the associated tasks would be to perform physical examinations, provide immunizations and prescribe medications and therapies.

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