Types of Nursing Specialties

A quick overview of nursing specialities. Which nursing specialty will you pursue?

Acute Care: Acute care nurses offer care for patients who suffer from acute conditions such as shock or heart attack. Acute nurses may provide pre-op and post-op care as well as manage cases and lead teams.

Administrative: Nurse administrators and managers supervise nursing staffs, set up and enforce patient care standards and manage budgets.

Adult Care: Adult care nurses provide focused care for patients from early adulthood through the aging process. Services include preventative care as well as handling acute conditions.

Allergy/Immunology: Allergy and immunology specialists focus on the diagnosis and treatment of allergic conditions including respiratory disorders (asthma), hay fever and skin conditions. Nurses working in this field also include pediatric specialties.

Ambulatory Care: Ambulatory care involves surgical procedures that can be performed in an outpatient setting. These procedures are usually appointed in advance and do not require the patient to stay overnight.

Anesthetist: A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), offer equivalent anesthetic services as a full medical anesthesiologist upon the completion of extensive training and education. CRNAs may work alone or with anesthesiologists to provide care for patients before and after surgery.

Behavioral/Mental & Psychiatry: Behavioral, psychiatric and mental health nurses work in a variety of settings to provide care for patients suffering from mental illnesses, substance abuse and some medical conditions. Care can come in the form of prescribing medicines, detoxification procedures and/or counseling.

Burns/Burn ICU: Nurses working burn or intensive burn care units are specialized in the immediate and middle-term treatment of burn injuries.

C.N.A.: Critical Nurse Assistants work directly under the RN, LPN and Clinical Nurse Manager performing basic nursing functions in various units within a hospital.

Cardiology: Cardiac and cardiovascular nurses help provide care for patients with circulatory related conditions, primarily focusing on the heart and blood vessels.

Case Manager: Case managers work with individual patients in helping them move within the health care system in a cost-efficient manner while assuring the quality of care given.

Cath Lab: Catheterization laboratory nurses are specialists that assist in the invasive procedure of installing slender tubing through peripheral arteries, blood vessels and/or the heart.

CCU: Critical care nurses are specialists that focus on providing care for critically ill patients. These nurses practice in hospital critical care units and urgent care centers.

Circulator: Nurses that act as circulators perform safety checks on the hypo/hyperthermia machine before it is used in a surgical setting.

Clinical Nurse: A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an RN who has developed skills in a more specialized area of practice. The role of CNS goes beyond basic treatment and may extend into consultation and research.

Community Health: Community health nurses work outside of the hospital environment and within community based offices providing preventative and urgent care to populations of diverse culture.

Consultant: Nursing consultants advise individuals and groups to maintain health care programs to their benefit. They provide health care need assessments, evaluate the quality of health care provided, and educate.

Coordinator: Nursing coordinators can exist on multiple levels including Nursing Coordinator I and Nursing Coordinator II. Their jobs mainly comprise of the supervision of nursing staffs on a 24 hour basis. Nursing Coordinator II is there to assist Nursing Coordinator I and act as the relief administrator in his/her absence.

Correctional: Correctional nurses are providers of care for individuals residing in correctional facilities (prisons).

Dermatology: Nurses in dermatology focus on the treatment and prevention of skin-related conditions and diseases while educating patients on skin care and sanitation.

Diabetes: Nurses specialized in the diagnosis, treatment and education of all types of diabetes and diabetes related illnesses.

Dialysis: Dialysis is the process of cleansing the blood through the use of a machine when the patient's kidneys have failed to perform their natural cleansing functions.

Director: A nurse manager is in charge of a health care facility and its staff and may be on call 24 hours a day to serve this purpose. A nurse manager is also more specifically in charge of enforcing strict patient care guidelines and fiscal budgets.

Disabilities: A Certified Developmental Disabilities Nurse (CDDN) provides care, education and support for individuals with developmental physical and mental disabilities.

Disaster: Registered nurses who participate in disaster relief work as an integral member of organized medical rescue teams.

Education: Nurse educators provide instruction and support for nursing students on all levels as well as existing nursing staffs.

EMT: EMT professionals work within a team that responds to medical emergencies. EMTs are usually on call, 24 hours a day within specifically assigned time frames.

Endocrinology: Nurses who work within the field of endocrinology focus on the system of hormone-producing glands that control functions related to growth, sexual development and metabolism.

ER: ER nurses operate in emergency rooms to quickly respond to accidents and treat time-sensitive acute medical problems.

Family Care: Family care nurses provide short and long-term care for families and individuals within community settings and sometimes hospitals.

Flight: Flight nurses provide care aboard commercial and non-commercial flights. Care usually comes in the form of the treatment of travel related illnesses and response to emergency situations.

Forensic: Forensic nursing is an ever-evolving specialty that deals with victim care, evidence collecting and providing health care within the prison system.

Gastroenterology: Gastroenterological nurses assist in the treatment and prevention of diseases and conditions of the digestive systems including the stomach and intestines.

Genetics: Nurses working in genetics focus on the understanding of genetically related conditions and education of patients and their families. Genetics is on the cutting edge of preventative health technologies and can be applied to an array of situations including pregnancy and birth.

Geriatrics: Geriatric nurses provide care for the elderly population focusing on the treatment and prevention of chronic illnesses and to assist in terminal processes.

Gerontology: Gerontologists provide care for the aged population focusing on the treatment and prevention of chronic illnesses.

Health Care Administrator: Health care administrators are in charge of setting up and managing health care distribution systems and services.

Hematology: Nurses of hematology assist in the treatment, prevention and education of conditions related to blood and blood producing organs.

Hepatology: Nurses of hepatology assist in the treatment, prevention and education of the liver and related conditions such as hepatitis.

HIV/AIDS: Nurses specialized in the treatment, prevention and education of conditions and causes related to HIV/AIDS.

Holistic: A Holistic Nurse treats and prevents illnesses and disorders from an all inclusive perspective connecting the mind, body and spirit instead of just focusing on individual symptoms.

Home Health: Home health care nurses provide direct treatment and preventative care and support for individuals and families within home

Hospice: Hospice is the generalized care given to patients with terminally ill conditions and their families. Nurses function as an integral member of a full team of care givers in these situations to offer relief of physical suffering and transitional support for the family.

ICU: Intensive Care Units are involved in the provision of care for patients who require advanced intensive care and support of malfunctioning vital body systems. ICU nurses may be required to dedicate special attention to individual patients while units are at, or beyond, patient capacity.

Infectious Diseases: Infectious disease specialists are in charge of the control and treatment infections that often resist the effects of drugs.

Informatics: Nursing informatics is a broad discipline combining the skills of nursing with computer proficiency. Workers in this field help implement computer information systems that assist nurses and doctors perform health care functions.

IV Therapy: IV Therapy Nurses provide advanced level care for physically and mentally ill people through intravenous deliver of medication and health promoting fluids.

Labor and Delivery: Labor and Delivery Nurses assist during the process of birthing babies and provide support and care of female patients during the postpartum stage.

Laboratory Testing: Registered nurses who work in clinical testing laboratories are in charge of testing patient specimens and interpreting test results for the purpose of diagnosis of health anomalies and research.

Legal: Legal nurse consultants use their nursing knowledge and expertise to handle legal affairs between care providers and patients. In most cases legal consultants examine medical records and deal with professional negligence cases.

Long Term Care: Long term care nurses are responsible for the treatment of chronic and long-standing conditions over an extended period of time toward resolution or minimizing of suffering.

LPNs/LVNs: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), care for people who are sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. They provide basic bedside care, measure and record patients’ vital signs, or prepare and give injections and enemas, monitor catheters, dress wounds, and give alcohol rubs and massages. Experienced LPNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides.

Managed Care: A system of managing the cost and quality of health care for the benefit of the patients. Managed care may come in the form of an HMO, IPA or PPO.

Manager: A nurse manager is in charge of a health care facility and its staff and may be on call 24 hours a day to serve this purpose. A nurse manager is also more specifically in charge of enforcing strict patient care guidelines and fiscal budgets.

Men's Health: A nurse specializing in men's health focus on the treatment and prevention of diseases specifically related to males and their body structures.

Midwife (CNM): A certified nurse-midwife is a highly trained nurse in charge of the delivery of babies. The midwife also extends care toward the pre-natal and post-natal needs of women.

Neonatal/Newborn: Neonatal nurses focus on the care of healthy infants and infants with acute and life-threatening conditions. These nurses also provide support and education for patient's families and may also conduct research.

Nephrology: Nurses that specialize in nephrology focus on the treatment and prevention of kidney related diseases.

Neurology: Nurses of neurology assist with the diagnosis and care of conditions related to the brain and nervous system.

Neurosurgery: Neurosurgical nurses of assist surgical procedures involving the brain and nervous system.

NICU: Nurses who work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit help provide safe and healthy conditions and care for newborns.

Nurse Educator: Nurse educators provide instruction and support for nursing students on all levels as well as existing nursing staffs.

Nurse Practitioner: NPs are highly skilled professionals who provide custom tailored preventative and holistic care for individuals. This care may come in the form of prescription writing and interpreting lab test results.

Nursery : Nurses who work in the nurseries help provide safe and healthy conditions and care for newborns.

Nutrition: Nutritional nurses are responsible for developing and administering nutritional systems for groups and nutritional advising for individuals.

OB/GYN: OB/GYN practitioners focus on providing care and education to women from adolescence on through the aging process. They provide routine gynecological and perinatal care as well as the treatment of common illnesses, chronic conditions and victims of abuse.

Occupational Health: An occupational health NP is in charge of ensuring the health of working populations through education, prevention and treatment. These NPs may practice in government agencies, corporations and health care facilities.

Office/Clinic: Office or clinical nurses provide assistance toward the treatment, education and prevention of health-related disorders within a community-based office or clinic.

Oncology: Oncology nurses provide and supervise care for chronic and critical cancer patients and occasionally assist with tumor research. Oncology nurses mainly practice within hospital settings.

Ophthalmology: Nurses that assist in the treatment and prevention of conditions related to the eye.

OR: OR nurses assist surgical specialists during procedures performed in operating theaters.

Oral/Maxillofacial: Specialists that assist in the correction of mouth and facial structural anomalies and related conditions and disorders.

Orthopedics: Orthopedic nurses assist in the care, treatment and prevention of conditions related to the bones and joints.

Ostomy/Continence: Nurses who specialize in Ostomy focus on the assistance of excretory processes disabled by injury or disease. The most common procedure is to create an opening in the abdomen through which stool can be excreted.

Otolaryngology: Specialists who assist in the care and treatment of conditions relating to the ears, nose and throat.

Outpatient: Outpatient nurses help treat and assist in the operative procedures of patients who aren't required to stay in the facilities overnight.

PACU: PeriAnesthesia nurses assist with the administration and recovery of operative patients who require anesthesia.

Pain Management: Pain managers focus on the relief of chronic pain and treatment of its causes.

Parish Nursing: Parish nurses focus on providing care for specific communities like churches and their congregations.

Pathology: The study of the effects of disease and injury on tissues and organs. Nurses working in this field require an intensely high level of specialized training.

Pediatrics: Pediatric nurses work in a variety of settings, from community centers to hospitals, to provide care and education for patients whose ages range from birth to 21 years.

Perioperative: Perioperative nurses are RNs who are highly skilled in caring for patients before, during and after surgical procedures.

Physical Medication and Rehabilitation: The process of diagnosis and treatment of disorders and disabilities via mechanical and electrical devices and regulated physical exercise.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy nurses assist in the treatment of disorders, injuries and disabilities using regulated physical exercise, massage and mechanical devices.

PICU: Nurses who work in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit provides care and education for patients whose ages range from birth to 21 years.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Procedures based on the purpose of reconstruction and correction of physical deformities and the purpose of cosmetic enhancement.

Podiatry: Podiatric nurses assist in the treatment and prevention of conditions related to the feet.

Postpartum: Nurses specialized in the support and care of female patients upon birthing a new child.

Prenatal: Nurses specialized in the support and care of female patients from conception to birth.

Primary Care: Primary care nurses primarily work in doctor's offices and walk-in clinics to diagnose and prescribe medications for common illnesses.

Proctology: Nurses specialized in assisting in the treatment and prevention of disorders relating to the anus, colon and rectum.

Psychiatry/Mental Health: Psychiatric nurses work in a variety of settings to provide care for patients suffering from mental illnesses, substance abuse and some medical conditions. Care can come in the form of prescribing medicines, detoxification procedures and/or counseling.

Pulmonary: Nurses specialized in assisting in the treatment and prevention of disorders relating to the lungs and respiration.

Radiology: Nurses specialized in assisting the treatment and prevention of disorders and conditions through radiant energy in the form of x-rays, CAT scans, ultrasound and other methods.

Radiology/Mammography: Nurses specialized in assisting the early detection of breast tumors and related conditions through radiant energy in the form of specialized x-ray procedures.

Registered Nurse: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses (RN), regardless of specialty or work setting, treat patients, educate patients and the public about various medical conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients’ family members. RNs record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

Respiratory Medicine: The practice of treatment and prevention of disorders relating to the lungs and respiration.

Rheumatology: Rheumatologic nurses are specialized in the assisting the treatment of conditions related to arthritis and rheumatism.

Risk Management: Risk managers focus on minimizing risks and dangers inherent in health facilities, treatment programs and operative procedures through assessment, system implementation and quick response.

Rural Nurse: Rural nurses focus on providing care for rural populations within community-based facilities and occasionally at the patient's home.

School Nurse: School nurses provide health care and health education to students within schools and school communities.

Speech Therapy: Speech therapists are specialists that focus on the prevention, identification and treatment of speech-related disorders and dysfunctions. Treatment may include exercises in articulation and physical exercise of the vocal chords.

Sports Medicine: Nurses specializing in sports medicine practice in both pediatric and adult fields to help treat and prevent sports-related injuries.

Step-down/Telemetry/DOU/IMO: Nurses who work in telemetry focus on the monitoring of heart functions through the use of highly sensitive mechanical testing devices.

Sub-Acute: Sub acute nurses are specialized in the comprehensive care for patients who require short-term services due to acute illnesses or injuries. Sub acute care is usually offered as a transitional phase after immediate acute care.

Substance Abuse: A subspecialty of psychiatry and mental health services, substance abuse professionals help treat patients who abuse and are dependent on alcohol and controlled substances.

Surgical: Surgical nurses assist in the preparation of patients and the operative procedures used to correct their physical defects and to treat injuries and disease.

Thoracic Surgery: Thoracic nurses specialize in assisting operational procedures that aim to correct disorders and diseases within and about the chest.

Transplantation: Transplantation nurses specialize in the treatment disease and injury through the transplantation of disabled or harmful organs or limbs with healthy alternatives.

Triage: Triage is the method of assessing and prioritizing the needs of patients and proceeding with treatment in a hierarchal fashion.

Urgent Care: Urgent care nurses specialize in delivering care and treatment of patients with immediate needs as a result of injury or disease.

Urology: Nurses specializing in urology focus on the care of the urinary tract, bladder, prostate gland and kidneys and their related conditions.

Vascular Surgery: Vascular nurses are specialized in assisting procedures that offer diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to blood vessels.

Women's Health: Women's health practitioners focus on providing care and education to women from adolescence on through the aging process. They provide routine gynecological and perinatal care as well as the treatment of common illnesses, chronic conditions and victims of abuse.

Wound Care: Specialized care focusing on the repair and treatment of wounds suffered as a result of injury and disease through the application ointments, dressings and prescription of medications such as antibiotics.

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