By Yolanda Smith, BPharm
The nursing profession has evolved considerably over the last century, including the introduction of specializations for nurses, with specific knowledge and experience to practice in certain fields. There are now many possible areas that a nurse may choose to specialize in, and these continue to grow.
Some of these are covered in more detail below, although there are more beyond this list.
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Advanced Practice Registered Nursing
Advanced practice registered nurses have acquired more advanced skills and knowledge through a master’s degree program, in addition to the undergraduate degree to become a registered nurse.
This extended training distinguishes them from other nurses and they often go on to work as a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), nurse practitioner (NP), nurse anesthetist (CNA), or certified nurse-midwife.
Ambulatory Care Nursing
Ambulatory care nurses provide health services to patients directly in an environment outside of a hospital, wherever it is required. They are responsible for following treatment plans for acute conditions, monitoring signs, communicating with the patient and their family, and promoting overall patient health.
Cardiac nurses care for patients with cardiovascular disease or health problems related to the heart and have specialized knowledge in this area. They are responsible for monitoring signs, treating symptoms, addressing clinical needs, and providing relevant support and education to the patient and their family.
Case Management Nurse
Case management nurse care for patients who require ongoing support and work to develop and implement a treatment plan that aims to stabilize health and minimize hospitalization.
Critical Care Nursing
Critical care nurses work with patients who are critically ill or injured and require close monitoring and care. They are responsible for looking after patients with potentially fatal conditions and following the treatment care plan for the best outcomes.
Dialysis nurses care for patients who require dialysis as part of their treatment plan, such as those with kidney disease. They are responsible for monitoring signs and progress, administering medications, and providing support and advice to patients throughout the process. They may work in a hospital, clinic, or provide in-home care.
Genetic nurses care for patients with a genetic disease and have in-depth knowledge about the role of genetic in the pathology of these conditions. They are responsible for conducting family risk assessments, analyzing genetic data, researching genetic diseases, and providing support to affected individuals and families.
Geriatric nurses care for elderly patients and have a thorough understanding of the health and treatment of conditions that commonly affect the elderly. Geriatric nurses often specialize further, to care for elderly patients with a specific health condition.
Mental Health Nursing
Mental health nurses, also known as psychiatric nurses, care for patients with mental health, psychiatric, or behavioral disorders. They help to provide support to these patients and their families while they recover.
Neonatal nurses care for young infants in the first few weeks of their life and have specialized knowledge about how to take care of infants and the conditions that may affect them.
Oncology nurses care for patients who have cancer. They help in the treatment and monitoring of the disease, in addition to providing support and education to patients and their families.
Pediatric nurses care for young children and their families. They have specialized knowledge about the function of young bodies and the health conditions that may affect them and assist in the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of these patients.
There are many possible fields that a nurse may choose to specialize in, including:
- Gastroenterology nursing
- Holistic nursing
- Medical-surgical nursing
- Midwifery nursing
- Neuroscience nursing
- Obstetrical nursing
- Occupational health nursing
- Orthopedic nursing
- Ostomy nursing
Reviewed by Susha Cheriyedath, MSc
Last Updated: Aug 19, 2016