What Type of Nurse Should I Be?

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After deciding to become a nurse, the next question to ask yourself is, “What kind of nurse should I be?” There is a nursing specialty for almost every condition and age population, ensuring you can find a specialty that fits your unique qualities and skills.

nurse smiling at patient in wheelchair

If you are considering a nursing career, you may wonder, “What type of nurse should I be?” There are many types of nursing specialties, each focused on specific conditions or populations, potentially making it difficult to choose the one that’s right for you.

In the University of the Incarnate Word’s (UIW) Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track, you can explore the different fields of nursing during clinical rotations, offering a window into what it’s like to work as a nurse.

Below is a list of different nursing specialties to help you decide which suits you.

Different Types of Nurses

You should first consider your skills and interests to choose from the different kinds of nurses. Many qualities can prove to be advantageous in certain specialties. Consider any strengths you may have as you review the specialties below.

UIW nursing student smiling in front of manikin

1. Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal nurses, also known as NICU nurses, care for newborn infants and treat various conditions, such as congenital disabilities, infection and prematurity. Neonatal nurses must have strong empathy and communication skills, as their patients are often highly vulnerable, and educating the parents is critical.

2. Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses work in the Intensive Care Unit, caring for patients experiencing severe illnesses or injuries. They provide basic care and work alongside physicians and other healthcare staff to treat and monitor critically ill patients.

Critical care nurses must be quick to adapt and exercise their clinical judgment while working under high-pressure circumstances. They must also be highly detail-oriented as they closely monitor patients and assess their condition.

3. Travel Nurse

Travel nurses are registered nurses who fill temporary positions at healthcare facilities nationwide. They typically work with an agency that fills the position and provides housing arrangements or a stipend. These nurses must have a passion for nursing and travel, as moving can be difficult after each contract ends.

person's hand holding handle of travel luggage

Travel nursing lets you make a meaningful impact on people’s lives while allowing you to explore the country. Learn more about travel nursing here.

4. Oncology Registered Nurse

Oncology nurses have similar responsibilities as other nurses — carrying out treatment plans and administering medication, for example — except they work specifically with cancer patients. Oncology nurses must be highly empathetic and resilient as they provide patient-focused care and interact with the patient’s families.

5. Community Health Nurse

Community health nurses provide medical care, rehabilitation, health education, and advocacy resources to underserved communities. They work in various environments, such as schools, government agencies, hospitals, and outpatient centers, to provide care and education to those in need.

Community health nurses must possess the qualities all nurses need to excel — compassion, critical thinking, patient advocacy — and be committed to uplifting underserved communities.

6. Population Health Nurse

Population health nurses seek to reduce and mitigate population health risks through education. They take a proactive approach by researching public health trends, performing public outreach programs, participating as subject matter experts in public health programs, and more.

These nursing professionals must possess a strong sense of community in addition to analytical, communication, and critical thinking skills.

7. Occupational Health Nurse

Occupational health nurses assess workers’ health in relation to their job’s tasks and potential hazards. They can work in hospitals, with private contractors, government agencies, and more. They must assume many roles at any given moment, such as clinical provider, educator, advisor, consultant, and case manager.

UIW nursing student in red scrubs checking the time

Occupational health nurses must be empathetic, have a compassionate bedside manner and have strong communication and analytical skills.

8. Medical Surgical Nurse

Medical surgical nurses primarily work in hospital surgical units alongside surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other clinicians. They are responsible for preparing patients for surgery, monitoring patients' condition, and assisting patients through recovery.

Med-Surg nurses must be compassionate, strong communicators, and have a sharp eye for detail as they educate and monitor patients through the procedure and recovery.

Are you ready to start your nursing journey? Read more to learn how to get into nursing school.

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Discover Which Type of Nurse to Become at UIW

If you feel called to become a nurse and have asked yourself, “What type of nurse should I be?” nursing school is the first step toward discovering an answer. In UIW’s ABSN track, you can explore the types of nursing specialties in clinical rotations while receiving a high-quality nursing education.

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits, the ABSN may be right for you. The nursing track prepares you for different nursing careers and makes earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing possible in as few as 16 months. Contact an admissions counselor today to learn more.