What are the Different Nursing Specialties?


When you go into nursing, there are over 100 different nursing specialties that you can specialize in.  Some of these allow you to specialize by obtaining a certificate that is awarded based on either experience, an examination or both.  Some specialties will require additional education and clinical experience.  When you are advancing your nursing education, you want to decide what you want to specialize in right away to make the transition a bit easier and the path to get there much clearer.


What is a Forensic Nurse?

A forensic nurse is a registered nurse that has had additional training to investigate accidental death, physical assault and sexual assault.  In addition to nursing training, they also have training in the criminal justice system and medical evidence collection.  Most nurses in this specialty work in emergency rooms.  If they assist a victim, they usually have to also testify as an expert medical witness as to what their findings were.


What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who has at least a master’s of science in nursing and pursued a nurse practitioner degree track.  On the NP level, nurses can choose to further specialize in fields like pediatrics, acute care, geriatrics and obstetrics.  A nurse practitioner is able to diagnose, prescribe and act as a sole provider to patients.  Nurse practitioners can practice medicine independently in 26 states in the US.


What is a Nurse Midwife?

A certified nurse midwife is a type of advanced practice nurse.  He or she will provide patient care and counseling during all stages of pregnancy, include preconception and the postpartum period.  A nurse midwife can also provide regular gynecologic care, reproductive health services and menopausal care.  In a clinical setting, a nurse midwife can diagnose and treat patients, provide preventative care, and refer for additional specialty services when necessary.


What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

A nurse anesthetist is a type of advanced practice nurse.  They can work in any surgical setting to provide all types of anesthesia.  They work alongside a variety of other health professionals, such as surgeons, dentists and anesthesiologists.  In rural hospitals throughout the United States, about two thirds of them only have a nurse anesthetist and not a medical school prepared anesthesiologist.  This position provides great autonomy and nurses can work independently in administering anesthesia.


What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

A clinical nurse specialist chooses an area of expertise and becomes an expert in that area.  The primary specialty areas within this specialty include nurse management, patients and their families and administration.  This type of nurse will participate in clinical practice, research, management, teaching and consulting.


What is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

A psychiatric nurse practitioner is a type of advanced practice nurse that has responsibilities similar to that of a psychiatrist.  He or she is able to diagnose mental illness, manage care and prescribe the necessary medications.  This type of nurse can also provide counseling, teaching and therapy, and provide additional referrals when necessary.


What is a Nurse Researcher?

A nurse researcher is a type of scientist.  He or she strives to improve nursing through conducting research.  They design studies, report results and analyze data.  Nurses may also participate in other forms of research, such as clinical trials.  The type of research and where the research is being performed will ultimately determine the nurses duties.


What is Nursing Informatics?

Nursing informatics focuses on improving communication and information management in the field of nursing.  This is done to reduce costs, improve efficiency and improve the overall quality of patient care.  Nurses in this field use the nursing process to better improve the systems nurses use, as well as to develop new ones.  This field involves an education in nursing and additional training in information technology.



American Board of Nursing Specialties: ABSNC Accreditation

American Nurses Association: Nursing Specialties

American Nurses Credentialing Center: ANCC Certification Center




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