Perhaps no field is as professionally diverse as nursing. A career that seemingly caters to every medical interest, nursing offers practitioners the opportunity to specialize in a variety of healthcare needs, interventions and work environments. For those considering a specialized nursing field, here are a few of the many opportunities available.
A Place for Every Professional
The following areas are a sample of the career paths available to nurses who want a specialized career.
Ambulatory Care Nursing
Those in ambulatory care nursing help patients in their homes, in travel situations or other non-hospital environments. The field is defined by its rapid and focused level of care for a large number of patients. Ambulatory care nurses may help patients with wellness and prevention, emergency care, palliative services, long-term care support or a variety of other services. They work with patients across the age spectrum, from neonatal to end-of-life. Employers for ambulatory care nurses might include clinics, medical practices, military and veteran clinics, colleges or care coordination associations.
Burn Care Nursing
Burn care nursing focuses specifically on patients who have been burned by a variety of substances, including fire, chemicals, electricity or hot water. Because burns are a uniquely difficult injury, they require a specialized understanding of how to stabilize patients and care for their wounds and related medical needs. Those who work as burn care nurses often find employment in burn care units, emergency rooms, ICUs and trauma centers.
Cardiac Care Nursing
Cardiac care nursing involves helping patients with medical issues of the heart. Patients are often managing issues related to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, bypass surgery or heart failure. Nurses in this field may be responsible for examining patients, testing heart activity, teaching patients and their families about heart diseases and wellness, providing pain treatment and a host of other duties. Cardiac care nurses are often employed by cardiovascular clinics, nursing homes, hospitals or home health agencies.
Forensic nurses specialize in caring for patients who have been victims of violence, assault or sexual abuse. Their work combines medical care with the criminal justice system and requires them to serve as experts in criminal cases. Nurses in this field are required to gather evidence, interview and examine patients and serve as a liaison between patients, law enforcement and social services. Forensic nursing professionals work in hospitals, laboratories, emergency rooms and courts of law.
In holistic nursing, professionals treat patients with a combination of western and complementary medicine. Those in this field use medical knowledge, as well as alternative healing approaches such as massage, acupuncture or aromatherapy to help improve patients’ wellbeing, mood and environment in addition to their physical health. Holistic nurses often work in hospitals, private practices, birthing centers or even the homes of their patients.
Hospice nursing is the practice of caring for terminal patients. Whether injured or ill, these patients most often require pain management, final treatment plans and emotional support. Nurses in this field must be extraordinarily compassionate and must be good at working with others, including patient families and members of the clergy. Hospice nurses often work in specialized care centers, nursing homes, in private residences or in hospitals.
Informatics nursing combines medical knowledge with information technology. Those in this field are responsible for assessing the technology needs of medical staff, designing and implementing computer systems that meet these needs, researching improved methods of data management and teaching staff to improve these systems. Nurses in this field often find employment in hospitals, IT companies, healthcare consulting firms and long-term care centers.
Obstetrics nurses specialize in working with women who are in various stages of pregnancy and childbirth. They are responsible for providing care during labor and delivery, teaching women about reproductive and sexual health, monitoring the health status of fetuses and newborns and improving health outcomes of both mother and child. Obstetrics nurses are employed by a variety of organizations, such as community clinics, doctors’ offices, maternity wards, urgent care clinics and midwife practices.
Taking the Next Step in Your Nursing Career
As a professional nurse, choosing a specialization is just one way to get ahead in your career. Earning an advanced degree is another. At Illinois College, the online RN to BSN program is a way for licensed nurses to improve their understanding of healthcare, increase earning potential and finish a four-year degree. Because the program is offered fully online, it allows you the flexibility you need to attend school while managing work and personal commitments.