What Can I Do with a BSN Degree? 16 Nursing Specialties in Demand

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Nurse giving child patient a band-aid

In recent years, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) has become the degree of choice for most nurses. Before you start earning your degree, though, you may want to know, “What can I do with a BSN degree?” Knowing these nursing specialties in demand for BSN-educated nurses will give clarity on your career choices after graduation.

As you’ll see, earning a BSN from a program like Northeastern University’s 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is a wise and worthwhile decision. When you have a BSN, the sky’s the limit for your nursing career. This post explores the diverse specialty areas that employ baccalaureate-level nurses.

How to Choose a Nursing Specialty

Having not gone through nursing school, it’s tough to know what type of nurse you want to be. Many students come into our 16-month ABSN program wanting to specialize in a specific area of practice — only to graduate and go on to pursue something else.

As a Northeastern ABSN student, you’ll experience what it’s like to work in busy hospitals and small suburban clinics caring for patients of all ages across the healthcare continuum. Your first clinical rotation will take place in the first semester of the program. By the time you graduate, you’ll have practiced in areas that involve adult health, pediatrics, mental health, acute and critical care, and public health.

Choosing a nursing specialty isn’t always easy — especially when nearly 100 exist — but your experiences in nursing school should give you some direction as to where you might want to practice.

Clinical Nursing Jobs in the Hospital

A majority of nurses choose to work with patients at the bedside, providing care within a clinical setting. With a BSN, you can decide to enter any number of patient care specialties. In the clinical setting, here are a few of the top nursing specialties in demand.

1. Cardiac Care Nurse

Working closely with cardiologists, these nurses provide cardiac care to patients of all ages in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. The patients they serve have heart disease or related conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. As a result, cardiac care nurses are in high demand. To specialize in this area of practice, you want a BSN, a registered nursing license, and relevant work experience.

nurse checking patient's heartbeat

2. Gastroenterology Nurse

These nurses help care for patients who have disorders or illnesses involving the gastrointestinal tract or digestive system. Working alongside nutritionists, they also teach their patients how to control digestive issues through diet. Gastroenterology nurses serve patients of all ages in settings that include hospitals, private practices, and surgery centers. Equipped with a BSN, an RN license, and relevant experience, these nurses can also receive certification in gastroenterology nursing.

3. Geriatric Nurse

Geriatric nurses assist doctors with the mental and physical care of elderly patients at high risk for injury and disease. To help their patients live the best life possible, these nurses work hard to keep them mobile and independent. Geriatric nurses work in settings that include nursing homes, retirement centers, outpatient care centers, and patient homes. Plan to first earn your BSN and RN license. Then you can receive certification in geriatric nursing after you’ve had some experience in the field.

4. Managed Care Nurse

Serving society’s most vulnerable, managed care nurses help elderly and underserved patients on government-funded healthcare plans stay as healthy as possible. These nurses are often the liaisons between patients and government agencies. Working in hospitals, telephone triage centers, and health insurance companies, these nurses keep tabs on the physical, emotional, and psychological state of their patients, ensuring they receive the right care. The first step to entering the field is earning a BSN and getting your RN license. Managed care nursing certification is available if desired, as well.

5. Missionary Nurse

Working through humanitarian groups or religious non-profit organizations, missionary nurses travel the world to care for patients in underdeveloped countries. They help people who have limited access to healthcare and resources such as medicine, vaccinations, and clean drinking water. Additionally, these nurses provide spiritual support to individuals in the communities they serve. To become one of these nurses, the first step is earning a BSN and getting your registered nurse license to practice. It’s also helpful to have life support certification from the Red Cross.

nurse helping child with band-aid

6. Nephrology Nurse

This type of nurse works with patients who have kidney problems, from kidney disease to abnormal kidney function. They carry out treatment plans such as dialysis and acute care. These nurses work in diverse settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician offices, and patient homes. They’re also placed in transplant units to care for patients who receive new kidneys. To become a nephrology nurse, first earn a BSN and get your registered nurse license. Then once you have experience, you can also pursue certification in nursing dialysis.

7. Obstetrics Nurse

OB/GYN nurses are in high demand. They care for women during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, as well as patients with reproductive health issues. These nurses also assist doctors in performing prenatal screenings and mammograms. Obstetric nurses work in settings that include hospitals, community clinics, private practices, and gynecology offices. The first step to becoming an obstetric nurse is earning your BSN and getting your RN license. Then you can pursue certification in obstetric nursing after you’ve had experience in the field.

8. Urology Nurse

These nurses care for patients with health conditions and diseases related to the urinary system, including kidney stones and bladder infections. They also spend time guiding their patients on topics such as preventive care and proper hygiene. Urology nurses work in settings that include hospitals, physician offices, and outpatient care centers. After earning a BSN, getting your RN license, and gaining work experience, you can pursue certification in urology nursing.

9. Family Nurse Practitioner

One of several specialty areas available to nurse practitioners, FNPs are advanced practiced nurses who provide comprehensive and continuous primary care to individuals and families across the lifespan. These nurses are some of the most compassionate and connected providers in healthcare. After all, many of these nurses have the opportunity to care for a patient from early childhood through adulthood.

FNPs typically work in physician offices, clinics, and community centers. To become an FNP, you need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) — which you can earn through Northeastern — a license to practice, relevant work experience, and the proper NP certification.

10. Nurse Midwife

These advanced practice nurses specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. And with many women with low-risk pregnancies preferring at-home births, nurse midwives are in high demand. These nurses guide these women through their prenatal visits, labor and delivery, and postpartum counseling. To become a nurse midwife, you need a master’s level nursing education that includes relevant courses, a license to practice, and certification in nursing midwifery.

Unconventional Nursing Jobs Outside the Hospital

While most nursing employment surrounds direct patient care, many people wonder, what can you do with a nursing degree besides nursing in the hospital? There are several alternative jobs for BSN-educated nurses who prefer nursing outside the traditional clinical environment.

11. Informatics Nurse

These nurses help design, test, and implement information and communication technologies that use medical data to improve patient outcomes. Managing various technology-based projects, informatics nurses rely on their analytical skills and critical thinking to solve problems innovatively. They work in settings that include hospitals, healthcare consulting firms, IT companies, and nursing schools. Informatics nurses need a BSN, an RN license, relevant work experience, and certification as an informatics nurse.

12. Flight Nurse

Working with paramedics and other healthcare professionals, flight nurses care for critically ill or injured patients in transit to a trauma center by aircraft. With most every flight being an emergency, these nurses must think fast and work well under pressure. To become a flight nurse, first earn your BSN and receive your nursing license. Then it’s ideal to gain experience in critical care and get certified in emergency nursing.

nurse helping give patient blanket on airplane

13. Forensic Nurse

Working as part of the criminal justice system, forensic nurses care for victims of sexual abuse, violence, and assault. These nurses gather evidence and testify on behalf of patients in court. Many times, these nurses are the go-betweens for patients, families, social services, and law enforcement. To become a forensic nurse, first earn a BSN and get your RN license, and then gain relevant work experience and get certified as a sexual assault nurse examiner.

14. Legal Nurse Consultant

These nurses work as medical experts in legal cases, helping lawyers understand healthcare-related issues, medical technology, and medical terminology. Working as a legal nurse consultant allows for schedule flexibility and varied work environments, such as insurance agencies and hospitals. If you’re interested in this career path, plan to earn a BSN and an RN license, gain relevant work experience, and become certified as a legal nurse consultant.

15. Nurse Educator

Readying the next generation of nurses, these educators work at teaching hospitals and higher learning institutions. They teach, mentor, and evaluate nursing students, which includes overseeing them as they apply their skills in lab and clinical settings. Also, nurse educators often speak at nursing conferences. To teach nursing, you need an MSN — which you can earn at Northeastern — a license to practice, and work experience.

16. Telehealth Nurse

In the age of technology, telehealth nursing is an emerging field with plenty of opportunity for growth. As a telehealth nurse, you can monitor patients and keep them stable from afar. These nurses may work within a large healthcare organization or consult with remote, rural healthcare facilities across the country. If you enjoy patient care, but you prefer working in a telecommuting environment, consider a job in telehealth nursing. Nurses with a BSN and an RN license plus relevant work experience are eligible for these roles.

Ready to Earn a BSN Degree?

Now that you can confidently answer, “What can I do with a BSN degree?” it’s time to take the next step. With a BSN from Northeastern University, you’ll be ready to choose from myriad nursing specialties in demand.

Whether you enroll for Northeastern’s accredited ABSN program near Boston, MA, or in Charlotte, NC, you can expect to receive the same quality nursing education taught by experienced, highly supportive instructors. Best of all, both of our ABSN program locations have three start dates a year, in January, May, and September.

If you meet the admissions requirements for the ABSN program, it’s possible to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months. Our nursing curriculum follows a blended format that combines online coursework with hands-on nursing skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations.

If you have questions about or want to apply to our ABSN program in North Carolina or Massachusetts, contact our admissions team today! And remember, we make it possible for you to earn a respected BSN degree in as few as 16 months — a degree that opens the door to countless nursing career opportunities.

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