What are the Different Types of Nurses?


When it comes to researching what the different types of nurses are, you have hundreds of choices in terms of specialties.   All of these types have different levels of education and required experience.  It is important to evaluate your goals so that you start off right.  Following the correct path will get you to your chosen specialty faster.


What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) works under a registered nurse (RN).  They are able to do things like take vital signs, give injections and administer medications.  You can also perform CPR and keep medical histories and medical records.  You will be able to administer basic nursing care, but cannot do everything a registered nurse can do.  For example, in some states, LPNs are not able to administer intravenous medications.


What is a Registered Nurse?

A registered nurse (RN) will assess patients, prevent disease, provide disease management, and promote health through intervention.  He or she administers all types of medications, creates nursing care plans and assists the doctor with certain procedures.  RNs can also get involved in clinical research, become nurse managers, teach as a clinical nursing instructor and work in patient advocacy.  There are many options for nurses who are licensed RNs.


What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are a type of advanced practice nurse who works with people of all ages.  They are able to diagnose patients and provide treatment within their scope of practice.  They can prescribe medications and order diagnostic testing like X-rays, EKGs and other necessary testing.  Nurse practitioners can practice independently in 26 states throughout the country.  You will need at least a master’s of science in nursing and this degree will need to focus on the nurse practitioner track.


What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

A nurse anesthetist is certified and is a type of advanced practice nurse.  They can work independently or along with anesthesiologists.  Every type of anesthetic can be administered by them and they can work in any surgical setting from gallbladder removals to open heart surgery.  This type of nurse will need extensive training and clinical time in a nurse anesthetist program.  This type of nurse may also work in obstetrics to administer things like epidurals or in a trauma setting.


What is a Nurse Midwife?

Nurse midwives are advanced practice nurses who are certified in nurse midwifery.  Nurse midwives can provide almost all types of care to women from gynecologic services, to pregnancy care to care for woman during and after menopause.  They can deliver babies and assist with fertility issues.  This type of nurse will complete a master of science in nursing with focus on midwifery.  They work directly with physicians, and while they cannot perform cesarean sections, they can perform most other duties during childbirth.




American Board of Nursing Specialties: ABSNC Accreditation

American Nurses Association: Nursing Specialties

American Nurses Credentialing Center: ANCC Certification Center

Colorado Christian University: Different Types of Nursing – Thinking Through Your Nursing Education


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