Nurses are the bedrock of the American healthcare system. Without trained and skilled nurses, illnesses would go untended, wrong medications would be administered, and long-term recovery would be unobtainable.
Nursing is a broad field, with many opportunities to specialize in different areas of medicine and patient care. For example, some nurses choose to work in hospitals, caring for patients on the floor or in the emergency room. Others may specialize in critical care units, providing care to patients undergoing surgery or receiving other critical medical treatments.
The good news is that each career path promises its fair share of rewards and satisfaction. Today, we’ll look at some of the most popular nursing specialties and what makes each so rewarding.
1. Forensic Nurse Consultant
Registered nurses with a specialty in servicing victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation are in high demand. These brave RNs work closely with law enforcement to gather forensic evidence, provide medical care and counseling for victims, and support victims through the legal process.
The role of forensic nurses is challenging but highly rewarding. They must balance compassion with the need for forensic evidence and maintain their composure in challenging and emotional situations.
Forensic nurses are primarily employed by law enforcement agencies, medical providers, and government organizations. However, they may also work in private practice or as independent consultants.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a forensic nurse makes an annual salary of $77,600. However, it can vary widely depending on experience, location, and the organization for which an RN works.
2. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Complex surgeries require administering pain medication and sedatives to patients. It is to keep them asleep or pain-free during the procedure. Since there’s a risk of stroke or death in case of the wrong administration, it’s vital that a professional lead the procedure. They will completely understand the patient’s condition and health history.
CRNAs are up to the challenge, and their skills and knowledge allow them to succeed in this rewarding career path.
In addition to administering medications, CRNAs are responsible for monitoring the patient’s vital signs during surgery. It ensures that the anesthesia is working properly and that no complications arise.
CRNAs can work in multiple medical environments, from critical care floors to surgical suites. They may also work in outpatient clinics, providing services to patients before and after surgery.
The average annual salary of a certified registered nurse anesthetist is $195,610.
3. Certified Nurse Midwife
Today, certified nurse midwives are in high demand. CNMs collaborate closely with obstetricians and gynecologists, providing regular care to women during all stages of pregnancy. They also provide medical care and education to childbearing women, delivering babies in the hospital or at home. The goal is to create a safe and supportive birth environment for mothers and their families.
Certified nurse midwives can work in hospitals, birthing centers, private practices, homes, and community health centers.
The average salary of a CNM is $116,253 per year. However, this amount can fluctuate depending on experience and location in the US.
4. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
Gerontological nursing is one of the fastest-growing career paths in the medical industry. There is a rising need for skilled RNs to care for the aging population. Gerontological NPs specialize in caring for the unique medical needs of patients over 65. It includes providing regular care, teaching preventative measures, and managing complex health conditions.
Gerontological NPs don’t necessarily have to work within the walls of a hospital or clinic. They can also work in senior living facilities, providing care and education to residents. There’s also a growing need for gerontological NPs in nursing homes.
According to BSL, gerontological nurse practitioners’ average salary is $114,510 annually. However, a nurse with certification in a sub-specialty of gerontological care can expect to earn more.
5. Nursing Informatics
Welcome to the future of healthcare! Nursing informatics is a rapidly growing career path that combines the latest technology with sound nursing practices to improve patient care and outcomes.
A nursing informatician is responsible for managing patient data and electronic health records. They also develop innovative software solutions to enhance patient care and hospital operations.
Some critical skills in this field include data analysis, system design, and collaboration with other health professionals. These can be applied in many nursing settings, including hospitals, clinics, and community health organizations.
Nursing informatics is an enriching career with tremendous growth potential in the healthcare industry. The top-paid informatics nurses make $185,500 annually.
6. Nurse Health Coach
Moving beyond traditional medical care, nurse health coaches are redefining the role of nurses in today’s healthcare landscape. They work to empower patients, helping them make healthy lifestyle changes that improve overall well-being.
A nurse health coach provides one-on-one support for patients with chronic health conditions, helping them develop self-management strategies to control their symptoms. They may also provide coaching for healthy eating and active living and help patients navigate the healthcare system.
The typical salary for a health coach is $64,445 per year.
7. Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Mental health is a fundamental part of overall well-being, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners play a crucial role in supporting patients with mental illness. These conditions may vary from mild depression or anxiety to more severe conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
PMHNPs are mental health and nursing experts with the skills and knowledge to provide a range of care for patients with mental illness. They work in various settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, and community health centers.
The benefit of a career as a PMHNP goes beyond just the salary, estimated to be about $120,000 per year. The satisfaction of making a real difference in patients’ lives and helping them manage their mental health conditions is one of the most rewarding aspects of this career.
Nursing graduates were once pigeonholed into long hospital shifts and wearing scrubs. But today’s nurses are branching out into exciting new career paths. This change in focus is driving the growth of careers like gerontological nursing and nurse informatics. However, what remains constant is the demanding educational background, strong work ethic, and compassionate nature required to succeed in the nursing field. Luckily, ticking those boxes can be highly rewarding, personally and financially. So, if you’re ready to take your nursing career to the next level, consider pursuing a career in one of the abovementioned roles.