5 Top Nursing Specialties

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Top nursing specialties include palliative nursing, cardiac nursing, geriatric nursing, and mental health nursing. These roles have different certification requirements; however, they all start with earning a BSN. During the clinical portion of your BSN program, you’ll get to “try on” these roles and see which is a good fit.

nurse checking child patient's heartbeat

At Madonna University, we empower our students to choose a path in nursing that interests them most by exposing them to a wide variety of nursing specialties during their clinical rotations. Our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in metro Detroit works with top healthcare facilities in Michigan to help students discover what they love about nursing and which areas they can excel in.

Not only is finding your path in nursing exciting, but it’s also needed. With nursing shortages across the nation, the International Council of Nurses projects that 13 million nurses are needed to fulfill future hiring goals.

As a nurse, you can work in a variety of different specialties, ranging from pediatric care to mental health nursing — and many more in between. While a BSN will be required for many of these specialties, some may also require an advanced degree and supplemental certifications.

nursing student checking child patient's pulse

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Let’s take a look at five top nursing specialties:

1. Palliative Care Nursing

Palliative care nurses (also called hospice nurses) are equipped with a BSN or an MSN, depending on their role and responsibilities. They also may hold several certifications including:

  • Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator (CHPCA)
  • Certified Hospice and Palliative Pediatric Nurse (CHPPN)
  • Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN)

Generally speaking, these nurses care for patients coping with severe illness, chronic diseases, or terminal conditions. They help give care with the goal of managing pain and keeping patients comfortable. Palliative care nurses report to physicians and advanced practice registered nurses and can work in a clinical setting or even in patient’s homes.

2. Cardiac Care Nursing

While all nurses are known for having heart, cardiac nurses are specialists in heart health. These RNs work with patients who are managing chronic and acute conditions. In addition to treating patients, cardiac nurses are also able to educate and advise them on preventive methods and plans going forward.

Cardiac care nurses are prepared with a BSN, and they may hold additional certifications including:

  • Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification
  • Cardiac Surgery Certification
  • Cardiac Medicine Certification

Cardiac nurses work in both inpatient and outpatient roles and can help prepare patients for cardiac surgery, as well as help them through recovery.

3. Geriatric Nursing

Geriatric nurses typically hold an ADN or BSN and a Gerontological Nursing Certification. These nurses work with senior patients, treating everything from sicknesses to more complex issues such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. They also help patient manage physical ailments like osteoporosis and arthritis. These nurses provide a great source of social interaction and promote a high quality of life full of activity for aging patients.

nurse sitting with elderly patient holding their hand

4. Gynecology/Obstetric Nursing

Gynecology nurses or obstetric nurses (OB/GYN nurses) are experts in women's health. These BSN-prepared nurses hold a National Certification Corporation Credential in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing and usually work in hospitals or at clinics.

They play a crucial role in healthcare by caring for women throughout pregnancy and after delivery. They also educate people about pregnancy and childbirth, and they frequently act as a point of contact between patients and doctors.

5. Mental Health Nursing

In order to become a mental health nurse, or psychiatric nurse, you’ll need to earn a BSN. Then you can take the next steps in your nursing education to earn an MSN, followed by a Post-Master’s Certificate. Mental health nurses treat people suffering from a mental illness or people who are experiencing crisis.

These nurses determine the medical and emotional needs of patients and work as a team with psychiatrists and behavioral health staff to create a comprehensive treatment plan for the patient.

Which Nursing Specialty Is Right for You?

When considering your path in nursing, you’ll want to think back to your ABSN coursework and what areas stood out to you most. You’ll want to assess your skills and determine what capabilities you have that would best serve the specialization. During clinicals, you’ll want to be involved and focus on each area of care to see which feels like a good fit. It may surprise you to find out the areas you excel at when you put your nursing knowledge into practice!

two Madonna ABSN students working with sim manikin

Why Does Specialization Matter?

Not only does specialization as a nurse help you enter a career that interests you, but it also helps fill gaps where nurses with specialized skills are desperately needed to help patients get the specific care they need.

Plus, as a specialized nurse, you’ll have more marketability to fill those positions where you have the education or certification that other candidates do not. Madonna University is ready to help you find out which nursing specializations may be right for you.

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Get Started Today!

At Madonna University, we want to help you become the most prepared registered nurse you can be. To learn more about how our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can help turn your existing college credits or non-nursing degree into a BSN degree in as few as 16 months, reach out to us today.