One of the many benefits of a career in nursing is that there are many different paths you can choose from. You can select a nursing education that fits into your time frame and your busy life, and after you have graduated you can choose from many different settings where you can use your nursing degree. You can work in one of the many nursing jobs outside of the hospital, or you can find work in one of the various types of nursing jobs in a hospital. No matter which of these two options you choose, there are many opportunities within both arenas.
Most recent nursing grads choose to start off by working in a hospital environment. Some nurses love this route and continue working in a specific hospital unit throughout their careers. However, others decide they want to try one of the many nursing specialties outside the hospital. There is no right or wrong answer here; it is strictly about preference.
Here are some of the common types of nursing jobs in a hospital:
1. Medical-Surgical Nurses
Medical-surgical nursing is one of the most common types of nursing. Not so long ago, all nursing grads started out as a medical-surgical nurse. However, today the nursing specialty path is not so straight forward. A medical-surgical nurse typically manages a patient load of five to seven patients throughout their shift. They create treatment plans, administer medications, provide care, and document everything. This line of work is very demanding and can be challenging. However, the rewards are great. As a medical-surgical nurse, you get day-to-day, direct patient interaction with patients of all ages, from all backgrounds.
2. Critical Care Nurse
A critical care nurse works with critically ill patients, typically in the intensive care unit (ICU). A critically ill patient refers to someone with a life-threatening problem. These nurses work with their patients and act as an advocate for them. You are not required to get an advanced nursing degree or additional certification, so long as your a licensed registered nurse. However, many nurses who want to stay in this field long term do get certified with the CCRN certification. This is one of the nursing fields where the nursing shortage has hit the hardest, so critical care nurses are in high demand.
3. Post Anesthesia Care Nursing
A post-anesthesia care nurse works in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), where patients recover from previously-administered anesthesia. They help ensure that the patient wakes up without complications and are responsible for things such as airway management, life support operations, pain management, draining catheters, and managing wounds from surgery.
4 & 5. NICU or PICU Nursing
The NICU stands for neonatal intensive care unit, and PICU stands for pediatric intensive care unit. Both units are used to care for critically ill children. The difference between the two is that a NICU deals with newborns, whereas the PICU patients are infants and children up to the age of 17. If you enjoy working with and caring for ill children, this may be a good career path for you.
6. Oncology Nurse
An oncology nurse works with cancer patients and provides all of the necessary day-to-day care. An oncology nurse also educates the patients and their families, consults both the doctor and the patients, and coordinates the treatment. A basic nursing degree (preferably a BSN) is all that is needed for this field. There are many different specialties a nurse can have within oncology, many of which may require, or at least encourage, an advanced certification. Some of the specialties include chemotherapy, breast oncology, radiation, GYN oncology, palliative care, and early detection and prevention.
7. Neuroscience Nurse
A neuroscience nurse, sometimes called a neuro nurse for short, deals with conditions that involve the nervous system- the system that the whole body uses to function. These nurses typically deal with patients who suffer from neurological problems such as trauma to the spine due to injury or illness. Some of the diseases that cause injury to the spine include Parkinson’s disease, encephalitis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis (MS). A neuro nurse provides daily care, rehabilitation care, treatment plans, education, and so much more for their patients.
8. Labor and Delivery Nurse
A labor and delivery nurse, often known as an L&D nurse, is responsible for bringing life into the world on a daily basis. They coach mothers through the birthing process during active labor and prepare the new parents to take their children home. This can include educating new parents on topics such as breastfeeding, holding and swaddling a baby, and so much more. An L&D nurse is also responsible for monitoring the health of the new baby. This is a fast-paced, client-facing area, but many who choose the field love it very much.
9. Pain Management Nurse
A pain management nurse works with patients to alleviate pain – both acute and chronic pain. They work with the patient to identify the pain and work with doctors to come up with a treatment plan. There are advanced certifications for these positions, although one is not always required to obtain a position as a pain management nurse.
10. Rheumatology Nurse
A rheumatology nurse works with patients that have a rheumatology disease. A rheumatology disease is one that is caused by inflammation of the joints or muscles. These diseases include lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, myositis, spondylitis, Lyme disease, and fibromyalgia. These nurses deal a lot with blood analysis, education of patients, and pain management.
Many internal hospital nursing positions involve working directly with patients on a day-to-day basis, as well as working with physicians, nurses, and other hospital personnel. Working as a nurse means you should be fast-thinking, patient, caring, and content to work closely with people on a daily basis.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the different types of nursing specialties that can be found within a hospital. There are so many options out there for nurses, both inside and outside the hospital.
If you are interested in becoming a nurse, be sure to reach out and let us know! We would love for you to talk to an admissions counselor, who can help you chart your path to becoming a nurse. You can become a nurse in as little as 16 months with Northeastern’s Bouve College of Health Sciences ABSN program in Boston.