Are you considering a new career in nursing? If you want to become a nurse, you’ve got quite a career ahead of you. With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, you’ll be able to choose from myriad nursing specialties in demand. We’ll cover some of the top nursing career options available after earning a BSN.
No matter what specialty you enter, the first step is to earn a BSN. This degree will allow you to advance your career. Fortunately, you do not have to start from scratch with a four-year degree to become a nurse. At the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track allows you to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months by leveraging your prior college experience.
As you begin your path to becoming a registered nurse (RN), compare the many types of registered nurses and see which one piques your interest the most.
Nursing Career Options with a BSN
Because a BSN education prepares nurses to care for the general population, many entry-level nurses take positions on generalized medical surgical units. However, other nurses prefer to take a position specializing in a particular area of nursing, such as obstetrics and gynecology or emergency nursing.
Some of the more complex nursing specialties in demand require a few years’ of experience in a general nursing department before you can get hired. With a BSN, you’ll be eligible to work in a variety of specialties, so you can find a job aligned with your interests and personality.
Here are a few of the many nursing specialty options you can choose from after earning a BSN.
1. Critical Care Nurse
Critical care or ICU nurses work in a hospital’s intensive or critical care unit, caring for patients who have complicated and often life-threatening illnesses. They use medical equipment to maintain life support, administer medications and blood, care for wounds, take vital signs and assess bloodwork.
Because of the complex nature of critical care nursing, these jobs often require significant prior nursing experience before you can specialize, including time working in acute care or telemetry nursing. Desired traits of a critical care nurse include strong critical thinking skills and the ability to work well under pressure and collaborate with other healthcare practitioners.
2. Community Health Nurse
Community health nurses focus on population health and often work in public or private agencies that serve the whole community. They work to prevent health problems from the beginning, often focusing on preventative care and overall health maintenance. Their clients include individuals and families across the life span.
3. Nephrology Nurse
Nephrology nurses operate dialysis machines for patients who require filtering of their blood due to end-stage kidney disease or kidney failure. They also monitor vital signs, administer blood and medications during dialysis and provide education and care for kidney transplant patients. These nurses are often highly compassionate, detail-oriented and attentive to their patients.
4. Travel Nurse
Travel nurses work temporary assignments — from a few weeks to six months or more. They act as temporary staff for healthcare facilities that need additional nurses, such as when a nurse retires or the number of patients increases.
Travel nurses are hired through agencies, and they receive stipends and bonuses above and beyond their base pay. Some in-demand travel nursing specialties include: intensive/critical care, perioperative, telemetry and labor and delivery. Duties of a travel nurse vary by specialty.
5. Trauma Nurse
Trauma nurses assess patients, take vital signs, administer IVs, medication and blood products and help with wound care. If you work well in a fast-paced environment, have strong assessment and clinical skills and exhibit resilience, you might be a good fit for trauma nursing. Generally, nurses who have spent at least two years in emergency or critical care are well-positioned to become trauma nurses.
6. Oncology Nurse
Oncology nurses work with oncologists and other cancer care specialists to provide care for patients and their families. They also work with patients on the prevention and detection of cancer and provide care for survivors of the disease. Oncology requires a special kind of nurse who is comfortable giving patient care at a most emotionally challenging and life-altering time.
7. Pediatric Nurse
Pediatric nurses conduct physical exams, take vital signs and administer medications to children. They also provide education to both children and their loved ones. These nurses need to be skilled at comforting patients as well as parents in often stressful situations.
Pediatric nurses can work in a variety of areas, such as the children’s hospital, pediatric clinic or pediatric intensive care unit. To work in the pediatric or neonatal intensive care unit, you’ll need additional specialty training.
Nursing Career Options with an Advanced Practice Degree
Nurses with a BSN can choose to continue their education by pursuing an advanced degree and earning specialty certification. These advanced practice nurses (APRNs) perform high-level duties and often supervise nursing staff. APRNs can also be primary caregivers and have more independence with their practice compared to RNs. This requires earning a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing.
If you have a passion for nursing leadership and want to advance your career, consider going back to school to pursue one of these advanced nursing specialties in demand.
8. Nurse Practitioner (NP)
NPs are advanced practice registered nurses who provide diagnoses and treatment and perform procedures. They can also offer preventive health education and write prescriptions. Their patient care is comprehensive and holistic, meaning they not only assess physical symptoms, but they also evaluate a patient’s psychosocial and environmental factors. In some states, NPs can practice without the oversight of a physician.
NPs can lower the cost of healthcare, as research studies show patients who see NPs as primary care providers have fewer trips to the emergency room and shortened hospital stays. NPs also help alleviate the primary-care doctor shortage in the U.S.
9. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
These are advanced practice registered nurses who specialize in childbirth and women’s reproductive health. They not only help women throughout pregnancy, during childbirth and postpartum — they also work to maintain women’s health on a preventive basis.
10. Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Certified registered nurse anesthetists are advanced practice nurses certified in anesthesia. They work in a variety of settings to provide anesthesia and pain management, including:
- Hospitals (operating room and obstetrics)
- Outpatient surgery centers
- Plastic surgery centers
- Dental offices
- Pain management centers
- Public health centers
In many states, CRNAs can practice without a supervising physician.
11. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
These are graduate-level registered nurses who are certified in the specialty of their choice from adult to gerontology to pediatrics. Earning specialty certification means demonstrating a higher level of knowledge as well as advanced clinical skills in a particular area of nursing. A CNS focuses on education, research and consulting. They are leaders in ensuring evidence-based care is optimally provided to patients.
12. Nursing Administrator or Leader
Nurses who hold advanced degrees in nursing leadership or administration are prepared to lead change and direct care across a continuum of specialty areas. They address policy and lead change at the highest levels of healthcare organizations. Their insight helps improve patient care and can also better the working conditions for nurses and other healthcare personnel.
Earn your BSN Sooner with the ABSN Track
While it is exciting to think about advanced specialization as a nurse, every specialist starts with a BSN. The University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio allows you to achieve a BSN in as few as 16 months through the ABSN track.
For eligible students we offer three start dates per year — in January, May and August — so you may be able to start your nursing journey soon. The ABSN program combines online classes, skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations to equip you for professional clinical nursing.
If you are looking to enroll in our ABSN track, don’t hesitate. Contact us today to start your journey toward becoming a registered nurse! We will connect you with a dedicated admissions counselor who will answer any questions you have and guide you through the entire application process.