The US has over 3 million practicing registered nurses, making it a vast sector. This is because nurses play a pivotal role in the healthcare sector, from caring for patients to ensuring all patient-related work gets carried out as accurately as possible. Furthermore, nurses are a crucial support system for doctors, from being their companions in handling cases to shouldering the responsibility of advocating for patients.
As a nurse, you have the opportunity to build on your expertise and access new paths that take you up the hierarchical ladder. Nursing specializations help you access more senior and diverse positions for better job satisfaction. So to achieve this status, here are some fields worth your consideration:
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
As an FNP, you'll work with all kinds of patients, from babies to the elderly. Therefore you will be able to diagnose conditions, devise treatment routes, and present an overview of the patient's health. You will also be at liberty to conduct tests and assessments and advise the patient to get imaging scans done to know more about what they're going through. You also have to keep tabs on your patient's family history, allergies, past treatments, and medications they use.
Some patients may also approach you to get vaccines, learn about mandatory shots, and a written prescription for a pill refill. Since this is a diverse field, apart from being merely a registered nurse, you need a master's degree. You can look into online MSN FNP programs to acquire the qualifications you need to expand your role, enhance your skills and gain the clinical knowledge you need.
There are 24 states, along with the District of Columbia, where you can freely practice without needing a physician to back you up. This is a people-intensive field, so you will need solid and soft skills to develop strong bonds with your patient. Furthermore, according to the BLS, the demand for FNPs is also rapidly growing, with a 16% growth rate in employment till 2030.
- Pediatric Nurse
Children need a healthcare professional in their corner who can help them manage and maintain their well-being. This can be you as a pediatric nurse. Your patients will range from infants to teenagers who need your consultation or may have a common health problem. Your primary role is to treat, educate and work with children who have illnesses that can be genetic or environmental, like the seasonal flu, or may have specific disabilities that need proper management.
However, you must know when you need the alarm parents and when it is okay to let symptoms slide. For instance, if the baby is showing significant regression in development, such as being unable to speak after a year in therapy, having trouble walking, or not following simple instructions, this is when you have to intervene. Treating the baby determines their condition's trajectory and guides parents in caring for them. You may also need to administer specific tests and refer them to an occupational therapist. Part of your job involves educating parents about their children. You will need to discuss and explain lab diagnosis and what the analysis shows.
You must also instruct parents on proper home care, such as wound cleaning after surgery and administering the appropriate medications on time. Your educational qualifications should hold at least a bachelor's degree and a valid license to start your work right. As the population booms, this sector is expected to grow by 26% till the next decade, making it far promising and a vital career choice if you want stability.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
As a CRNA, you will be responsible for administering a certain amount of anesthesia to your patients before they get wheeled in for surgery. Once the effects of the anesthesia hit, it is your job to monitor the patient's condition and ensure all vitals are in harmony. Once the patient comes out of anesthesia, it is your job to ensure the procedure goes smoothly and that the patient is recovering without any unusual side effects.
Depending on the kind of anesthesia you used and the quantity, some patients may take longer to shake off the aftermath. So guide the patient on caring for their health after a strong dose, which can include resting and recovering to their total capacity. Patients may also need you to help them deal with pain and help them manage each medication so they consume them slowly instead of swallowing them all in one go.
Since this is a high-risk field, you'll have to jump through many hoops before you're ready as a professional CRNA. You need at least a master's degree with training in an acute care setting for one year. This is to prepare you for handling anesthesia and ensure you don't mess up the dosage, which can be fatal for the patient. According to the BLS, this sector will go through a 16% growth rate, making it another career that is expanding faster than average.
- ER Nurse
If you enjoy working in highly pressurized environments with patients rolling in continuously, you will be suitable as an ER nurse. The emergency room can get some severe cases of injuries that need immediate attention. These can include wheeling an unconscious patient bleeding heavily, helping another one remove a foreign object, and trying to stem the bleeding as carefully as possible. In some, you may also need to fill out the relevant patient paperwork, review their medication, and prepare them for the doctor for further consultation.
You may also be needed for small-scale stitches, simple wound cleaning, and checking for symptoms that suggest an underlying illness. Your education requirements are relatively relaxed, but you will need a bachelor's degree to work as an ER nurse. The growth rate of this field is about 16% making it another blossoming area.
Nursing is a rewarding field, but you can add to your profession by going for a specialization. Opting for advanced degrees gives you more liberty in building your career. Common examples include becoming a family nurse practitioner and managing entire families and loved ones in one go. However, if you feel happier with children, you are much better as a pediatric nurse. Other promising careers include becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Your role in ensuring a patient's comfort in surgery and recovery smoothly afterward is vital for their health and safety. Finally, if you like working in pressurized environments catering to multiple patients dealing with serious ailments, try your luck as an ER nurse.