A Visual Guide to Nursing Specialties

A Visual Guide to Nursing Specialties
You’ve continued your education – you put in the time, work and funds into becoming an RN!  Although you probably liked your job as an LPN/LVN, the increase in pay and wider variety of jobs available were most likely a driving factor in your decision.   So the big question – now that you’ve got your RN degree, what the heck are you going to do with it?

The type of jobs now available to you are dependent on the type of degree that you hold.  Regardless of whether you attended school for an ADN degree or a BSN degree, you’ll be eligible for entry level nursing jobs such as a floor nurse, a clinic nurse or a nurse in a LTC facility.  However, with a little bit of time, experience and maybe a bit of luck, you’re also eligible for a job as a specialized RN.  You may be lucky and get one of these coveted specialized jobs right away, as you’ve already got experience as an LPN/LVN.  Often, employers may like to see that you’ve put in some time as an entry level RN.  Either way, knowing your options based on your degree will allow you to prepare for that specialized “dream” nursing job.

As a graduate from an ADN program, most of the jobs you’ll be eligible for are still in direct patient care.  The basis of the ADN education is to provide direct care to patients.  However, that doesn’t mean that you need to work your whole career as a Med-Surg RN.  Your education and subsequent on the job training have given you advanced nursing skills that prepare you for advanced positions in direct patient care.  For example, the skills that you learned in nursing school and providing care to patients after a cholecystectomy have set you up for a job as an operating room nurse.  Taking care of sick children in a pediatrician’s office has taught you how to interact and care for children, affording you the skills necessary to care for critically ill children on a pediatric nursing unit.  Learning how to care for a patient that has had a change in status has taught you the basic skills to segue into an emergency room position.  Once you’ve transitioned to these more advanced nursing specialties, there will still be a lot to learn but you’ll have made headway into your desired position.

As a graduate from a BSN program, you’ll also have leaned the skills necessary to provide direct patient care.  However, you’ll also have had training in education, management and research.  This extra education that you have received will make you eligible for positions that can take you away from the patient bedside.  For example, the nurse that enjoys being in charge will have the necessary skills and education in becoming a clinical nurse manager.  The nurse that also enjoys IT will be able to work in nursing informatics, using evidenced-based practice to make the EMR more efficient for nursing staff and improve patient outcomes.  For the nurse that likes to teach, you’ll be eligible for jobs in nursing and patient education, such as a nursing educator in the education department of a facility, or a certified diabetes educator, directly working with patients in improving their health.

Regardless of which type of nursing degree you hold, the above infographic illustrates a variety of nursing specialties.  In our selection of the Top Nursing Specialties for RNs and Top 10 Nursing Specialties for BSNs, you’ll find descriptions for ADN/BSN degrees.  These specialties were selected based on either a higher level of pay, a higher need for this type of nursing job, or a job that can prepare the nurse for an advanced nursing degree.

P. Shreffler

About P. Shreffler

P. Shreffler started her nursing career in 2010 as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). After working for almost five years she decided it was time to go back to college and further her education. In June of 2015 she passed her NCLEX on the first attempt and can finally put that RN behind her name! Her background has been in the long-term care setting for these past 5 years with a small amount of experience in acute care during RN school. I am excited at where my career may take me and I enjoy knowing that I may make the difference in many, many lives down the road!
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