What Are The Different Specialties in Nursing?

Are you considering becoming a nurse, investigating the range of RN to NP programs? It’s such a noble calling; you can’t get much more altruistic in your work than nursing people back to health. While some people work to make stacks of money, as a nurse, your focus is on caring for people. You will literally nurse people back from the brink of death in some cases.

In addition to being a noble pursuit of a career, nurses are respected and valued in society. You won’t be ashamed to mention your profession at a dinner party or other social engagement. 

Once you’re qualified as a nurse, consider embarking on a specialized nursing trajectory. But if you’re new to this topic, you might not know all the different specialties in nursing. Lucky for you, this helpful article will share them so you can be fully informed as you prepare for your studies and beyond. We’ll also share the pathways to obtaining these specialized nursing qualifications. Continue reading to learn more.

Oncology Nursing 

Oncology is the medical term given to care provided for cancer patients. There are a wide range of different cancers, from skin to bone to brain and more. This specialization is a nurse who provides bespoke nursing care to those with cancer. You will treat those undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy and care for patients receiving palliative care for a terminal cancer diagnosis. This is a challenging specialization, as cancer diagnoses are dire, and people require intensive medical treatment. 

To become an oncology nurse, the minimum degree you will need is an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, shortened to ADN. But if you want to stand out in the job market, a Bachelor’s Degree in the Science of Nursing (BSN) is the superior qualification. 

After either of these degrees, you’ll need to obtain your registration as a nurse and then gain around 1,000 hours of clinical patient contact experience in a hospital – with some of these hours clocked up in an oncology setting. After this, you can then specialize to become an oncology nurse if this is the career pathway you want. 

surgeon preparing for operation
Nurse in an operation room.

Surgical Nursing Specialization

A specialist surgical nurse assists surgeons with all kinds of surgical procedures, including routine procedures such as colonoscopies, gastroscopy and biopsies. They can also provide nursing care during emergency surgery, like brain surgery or open heart surgery. A surgical nurse will support patients through all stages of surgery, from preoperative care such as dispensing medicine, during operations, and they can provide postoperative care as well. They also work in specialized units, such as intensive and critical care, for people who have had emergency surgery after significant accidents or injuries. 

To become a specialized surgical nurse, you have to put in significant time and effort. To give you an idea of the level of training and preparation involved, even before getting a medical-surgical nursing certification, you need to complete a staggering 26 weeks of operating room experience. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can work well under pressure, as well as being responsive and efficient,

The first thing is to follow the above-listed steps to obtain your nursing registration. After two years of working as a nurse and racking up 2,000 hours of clinical experience, you can obtain the specialized surgical nursing credential. You’ll need to keep working in this role to retain your certification. 

Neonatal Nursing 

Another nursing specialization is becoming a neonatal nurse; neonatal intensive care, or NICU nurses, play a significant role in caring for newborns and their families. They care for both healthy newborns and those with severe health complications, as well as caring for mothers and children with birthing trauma or other neonatal health issues.

Most neonatal nurses tend to work in specialized intensive care units specifically designed to treat newborns who require specialized medical care. These nurses will provide care and tend to the first month of a newborn’s life or longer for premature babies. The level of care a neonatal nurse provides to their patients depends on the infant’s needs, and it will also vary depending on the hospital and local settings. For instance, some hospitals are better equipped to provide neonatal care, and often, patients will be transferred to the best setting for them. 

The first step to becoming a neonatal nurse is to acquire an undergraduate degree in nursing, which takes three to four years. The degrees mentioned prior in this article are suitable, too. From there, you obtain your RN registration. After that, you’ll need to gain some firsthand clinical hours of experience, as described above. After this process, you can obtain a specialized NICU certification to become a neonatal nurse. 

Geriatric Nursing 

Geriatric nursing is the final specialization we’ll discuss here. It is a field of nursing that specializes in providing nursing care to older people who tend to have unique healthcare needs. As people age, they will often require more intensive healthcare treatment and may end up in hospital more often due to illness, falls, and routine procedures.

Unlike the other specializations listed here, there is no specific qualification for geriatric nursing, so the usual nursing qualification pathways will enable you to work in this field. However, you can become a board-certified geriatric nurse. To achieve this, you need an RN license and a minimum of two years of experience. After that, you need to complete at least 2,000 hours of clinical gerontology nursing within three years and 30 hours of professional development to get to this level. 

A Specialized Summary

This helpful article has shared the main nursing specializations, and how to progress them as a nurse. By now, you’re fully informed as you prepare for your nursing education journey. 

Last Updated on by kalidaspandian

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Icy Health Editorial Team

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