The United States is experiencing a shortage of nurses while simultaneously experiencing a crisis due to the aging baby boomer population, an onslaught of patients suffering from Covid-19 fatigue, as well as a high rate of retirement in most states. To counter the falling numbers of nurses, there has been a push to recruit more young people into the nursing profession, give them more education, and improve their salaries and working conditions.
This article will explore some of the most popular specializations in nursing and how you can begin your journey toward specializing and helping the community.
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
After completing the necessary competencies and bachelor’s degree, nurses can specialize in whatever area of medicine interests them, and there are many nurse practitioner specialties to choose from. Those who choose to specialize in mental health issues should enroll in an online BSN to MSN-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track from a good university, such as Spring Arbor University, to gain the necessary skills.
The courses at Spring Arbor University cover topics such as neurobiology and psychopathology, psychopharmacology, which focuses on all age groups, and advanced psychiatric mental health nursing, which focuses on children, adolescents, young adults, and adults. Once students have finished their degree, they will know how to diagnose dysfunctional and psychiatric disorders and understand the role of epidemiology, age, socioeconomic background, and cultural norms in managing mental illness.
This is just one specialty that is popular among nursing students; several others are popular because of the high demand for their skills.
Critical care nursing
The number of Americans suffering from chronic illness continues to rise, and all these people need to be cared for. Many are admitted into hospital wards, while some opt to receive care at home. Whether they are at home or in hospitals, chronically ill patients need nursing care. This has increased the demand for professionals trained in critical care.
Many specialize in areas like cardiology, oncology, diabetes management, pediatrics, and even elder care. Some nurses choose to focus on critical care nursing for a particular age group, which narrows their scope but makes them more marketable.
This is one of the most lucrative nursing specializations, and it is easy to see why. Approximately 10,000 babies are born in American hospitals every day, and because it is cheaper to pay nurses rather than doctors, the burden of caring for mothers and infants has shifted to the nurse.
Apart from delivering babies, a certified nurse midwife can provide gynecological care before and during pregnancy, offer family planning services, and provide post-natal care and advice.
Certified dialysis nursing
This is a nurse who is trained in diseases of the kidney, and contrary to what the title suggests, they do more than help patients through dialysis.
These nurses are trained to diagnose kidney disease, work with other kidney treatment professionals to deliver personalized care to nephrology patients, and even educate patients on nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, and how to prevent other diseases that are common in kidney disease patients.
In case you are wondering about the demand for dialysis nurses, it is quite high because the number of Americans diagnosed with kidney disease has increased. According to a recent CDC report, 1 in 7 adult Americans suffers from kidney disease, and nearly 40% of all patients are elderly, which means they need more care than the average kidney disease patient.
Operating room nurses have always been in demand, and their role is to care for patients before, during, and after surgery. An OR nurse makes sure that patients are properly prepped before they go into the theater, explains the procedure, and deals with any issues that may come up before the surgeon steps in.
They are also present within the operating room during procedures to provide whatever assistance the surgeon and the anesthetist may need.
OR nurses are highly trained professionals and they are also quite versatile. They are required to know how to care for patients with different conditions and ensure a smooth and quick recovery.
They are well-versed in pain management and pharmacology, and they also know how to dress and care for wounds and how to provide psychological and emotional support so that patients can heal faster.
Nurse case management
A nurse case manager is a type of nurse who is involved in developing long-term care plans for patients. They work with other professionals both inside and outside the facility to make sure that every patient under their care gets all they need to aid recovery—or at the very least, live as comfortably as possible.
A nurse case manager assesses the special needs of each patient under their care and develops a customized care plan to manage illness or injury. They may choose a particular specialty like oncology or pediatrics, or they may be generalists, working with patients of all ages suffering from different conditions.
The need for nurse care managers has increased dramatically in recent years as patient-centered care has become the focus of many healthcare facilities. Patient-centered care means that the patient is involved in every step of their treatment, and their opinions and ideas are taken into account as their treatment plans are formulated. The benefits of this kind of care include faster recovery times for patients, a better-managed treatment process, and easier access to healthcare resources when they are needed.
How easy is it to get into any of these five nursing specialties?
Becoming a critical care nurse, a nurse midwife, a dialysis nurse, an OR nurse, or a nurse case manager isn’t difficult at all. Students need to get an initial degree in nursing and then a higher education credential that qualifies them to work in these particular areas.
Nursing students can opt for in-person classes, where they attend their training on-campus, or they can pursue online degrees, which are more flexible and tend to be cheaper.
What you choose depends on how much time you have on your hands, whether you would like to commute to campus for every single lesson, and how fast you would like to finish your course.
Many trainee nurses opt for online courses because of the flexibility they offer, and also because they can complete their training faster. If you are already working, you will find that these courses allow you to do your job and study at the same time.
However, it is important not to underestimate the demands that online courses place on students. They have a high dropout rate because many students go in without a clear understanding of what is required of them.
Successful online students are disciplined and diligent. They attend every lecture and complete every assignment. They also participate in group discussions and engage their trainers to get the most out of their course.
What are the employment prospects for these professions?
In a nutshell, those who train in any of the five nursing specialties discussed here can expect to do well in their careers. As for how much these specialties pay, it isn’t possible to put down an exact figure because many factors affect individual salaries. How much one makes, for example, depends on where one practices. Different states pay differently depending on the demand for the jobs in question.
Where one works also determines how well they are paid. Nurses who care for private patients at home, for example, often make more than those who work in government facilities. Similarly, nurses who work in private hospitals have better salaries and benefits than those who work in state hospitals.
These are all important considerations to take into account as you plan your career. However dedicated you are, you will do a better job if you feel you are paid well for the services you deliver.
As you consider employment opportunities, think about the benefits that each job brings. Key among your considerations should be how much time you get to rest each year and whether you get paid leave days.
Lastly, whatever specialty you choose, you must remember that nursing is a demanding profession. Nurses are required to be constantly on the move and sometimes work double or triple shifts without a break.
As such, every nurse who wants to excel in their career must learn how to take care of their mental and physical health. They should eat a balanced diet, avoid processed foods, and find ways to decompress after many hours on shift. Good nurses understand that if they are not healthy, they cannot help restore others to good health.
Some nursing specialties are more popular than others because they afford more opportunities for those who qualify and because they pay better. However, don’t choose a nursing specialty just because others are doing it. Choose a focus area that you are passionate about and that you feel will be rewarding both psychologically and financially.
Remember, the more education you get for your particular specialty, the higher up the ladder you go. If you enroll for postgraduate studies, you will be able to get better jobs that pay more and that are more rewarding.