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5 Growing Specialties for Nurses

Home > 5 Growing Specialties for Nurses

Are you a nursing student trying to decide where you want to go in your career? Or an old pro looking for a new challenge in the field? The following specialties are poised to grow in coming years and can help you take your career to the next level.

1. Ambulatory care nursing

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 40 million uninsured Americans will be able to receive the care that they need -- including treatment in ambulatory care settings. If you're a nurse who wants to transition out of a hospital environment, ambulatory care nursing is a diverse specialty that can give you the opportunity to work in a number of settings such as primary care facilities, telehealth organizations, military bases, correctional facilities, dialysis centers and occupational health practices.

Unlike working in a hospital, where there is a revolving door of new patients, ambulatory care nurses have the chance to have long-term relationships with patients because they may treat them for several months or years. As a result of this increased intimacy, ambulatory care nurses can help make decisions about patient care and coordinate the services that patients need. In addition, they can educate patients about how to live a healthier lifestyle and help them make informed decisions about their course of care.

Education: In order to enter this specialty, you typically need to be a licensed RN and must complete a residency program, which generally lasts about one year if you're a recent nursing school graduate and six months if you have more nursing experience.

2. Forensic nursing

Are you a fan of shows like "Forensic Files," "CSI," and "Law & Order"? With the increased interest in forensic science that has been sparked by these types of shows, many nurses are interested in using their skills to contribute to the criminal justice system.

Forensic nurses use their health care expertise to treat the victims of crimes such as sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse. In addition to helping patients deal with the physical and emotional effects of these crimes, you may also collect evidence that could be used in a case and testify in court as needed. When you're not working with living victims, you may work on death investigations and assist coroners in determining what caused a death and whether or not a crime was committed.

Education: There are two ways to become a forensic nurse: In many cases, these nurses earn a master's or doctoral degree in nursing. Alternately, you may want to become certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner by taking a training course that includes 40 hours of classroom instruction and 40 hours of clinical training.

3. Holistic nursing

Studies show that more and more patients are interested in receiving complementary and alternative medical treatments -- and medical facilities are increasingly offering these services in response. As a result, holistic nursing has become a promising field for those who want to treat patients with a mind, body, spirit approach.

As a holistic nurse, you may work in a variety of settings including hospitals, palliative care facilities and research laboratories. If you're interested in starting your own business, you may also consider going into private practice where you may offer services to patients in a number of holistic modalities, such as reflexology, Reiki, aromatherapy, cognitive therapy, nutritional counseling and sound therapy.

Education: Holistic nurses can apply for certification from the American Holistic Nurse Certification Corporation. In order to qualify for certification, you must hold a current license as a registered nurse, have at least one year of experience in the field and have met continuing education requirements. Certifications are available for RNs with an associate degree in nursing, a bachelor's degree in nursing or an advanced nursing degree.

4. Nursing informatics

If you're interested in technology, nursing informatics may be the right specialty for you, since it allows you to wed nursing science with the computer and information sciences. In recent years, this specialty has become more visible thanks to evolving health care technologies and government requirements on the industry to increase the use of electronic health records systems.

In nursing informatics, you would play an instrumental part in enhancing the technology that nurses use by evaluating and working to improve data management, data mining and administration systems. In addition, your work would also help improve the patient experience and keep health care costs down.

Education: Nurses who want to pursue this field should earn a nursing informatics degree, preferably at the master's degree level, and become certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

5. Psychiatric-mental health nursing

Similar to ambulatory nursing, the Affordable Care Act is expected to increase the amount of patients looking for psychiatric care. Psychiatric-mental health nurses (PMHN) help treat patients with mental health problems by diagnosing them, creating patient care plans and periodically evaluating the treatment course to ensure its effectiveness. You may also advocate on behalf of mentally ill patients by educating the community, as well as legislators, about various mental health issues and how they should be treated.

Education: In order to become a PMHN, you must be registered in your state after completing an associate in nursing or BSN degree. If you want to advance in this specialty, you can become a Psychiatric-Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (PMH-APRN) by earning a master's or doctoral degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing. 


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