Nursing Specialties Available To Registered Nurses

If you are a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and are looking to advance your career, there is no better way than to choose a nursing specialty that you enjoy doing. You do not only have to choose one nursing specialty either, there are literally hundreds from which to choose, and you can elect to specialize in a few different fields.

The nursing specialties from which you can choose are: Ambulatory care nursing, Advanced practice nursing, Burn nursing, Camp nursing, Cardiac nursing, Cardiac catheter laboratory nursing, Medical case management, Community health nursing, Correctional nursing, Critical care nursing, Emergency and trauma nursing, Environmental health nursing, Faith community nursing, Flight nursing, Forensic nursing, Gastroenterology nursing, Genetics nursing, Geriatric nursing, Health visiting, Holistic nursing, Home health nursing, Hospice and palliative care nursing, Hyperbaric nursing, Immunology and allergy nursing, Intravenous therapy nursing, Infection control nursing, Infectious disease nursing, Legal nursing, Maternal-child nursing, Medical-surgical nursing, Mental health or psychiatric nursing, Midwifery, Military and uniformed services nursing, Neonatal nursing, Neurosurgical nursing, Nursing informatics, Nursing management, Nursing Research, Obstetrical nursing, Occupational Health nursing, Oncology nursing, Orthopedic nursing, Ostomy nursing, Pediatric nursing, Perianesthesia nursing, Perioperative nursing, Private duty nursing, Psychiatric or mental health nursing, Public health nursing, Pulmonary nursing, Quality improvement, Radiology nursing, Rehabilitation nursing, Renal nursing, School nursing, Space nursing, Sub-acute nursing, Substance abuse nursing, Surgical nursing, Telenursing, Telephone triage nursing, Transplantation nursing, Travel nursing, Urology nursing, Utilization management, Wound care.

Voluntary certification is issued by certifying boards and professional organizations for many of the above nursing specialties.

Nursing Specialties For Registered Nurses

Nursing is divided into various overlapping and highly technical specialty, professional, and discipline areas. It is important when electing a nursing specialty, that you know in which area and category that particular nursing specialty falls:Nursing Specialties

Below are just some of the nursing specialties available, with a short description:

Acute Care

In this nursing specialty, the nurse provides care to patients who suffer from acute conditions such as respiratory distress syndrome, heart attacks, or shock. Acute care nurses also care for pre- and post- operative patients, and may perform advanced, invasive diagnostic examinations, amongst other duties.

Acute Care NP

An Acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) helps to assess and manage acutely ill patients within an inpatient or hospital setting and across hospital-to-clinic settings, including intensive care units, specialty labs, emergency departments, and acute care wards.


Nurse Managers are responsible for the resources, personnel, and patient-care in a nursing unit. This nursing specialty calls for the individual to manage staff, including RNs, LPNs and nursing assistants. They oversee daily activities within their department to facilitate and deliver quality nursing, amongst other duties.

Adult NP

Adult nurse practitioners (ANPs) are advanced practice nurses; they diagnose and manage everyday primary-care problems for adults and their families. The emphasis in this nursing specialty is on illness prevention, health promotion, and management of acute and chronic illnesses.


Allergy and Immunology Nurses specialize in caring for patients that suffer from allergies and asthma. They assist with diagnosis, establishing nursing care targets, and providing treatment. They also help to determine the cause and treatment of allergic reactions, administer medication, amongst other duties.

Ambulatory Care

Ambulatory Care Nurses are also called Outpatient Nurses, and the primary objective of nurses in this nursing specialty is to treat patients with acute or chronic illnesses or injury on an occasional, outpatient basis in a various settings. The emphasis is on preventive care, pain management and patient education.

Antepartum/High Risk OB

An Antepartum Care or High-Risk OB Nurse provides care to pregnant women who have conditions such as preterm labor or other complications that require hospitalization and continuous monitoring.


An Apherisis Nurse cares for patients who receive apherisis blood separation procedures. These procedures are often used as part of a cancer treatment. This nursing specialty is vital in the fight against cancer, and individuals who decide on this specialty must learn about blood and the vascular system.

Burn ICU

A Burn ICU Nurse provides care to both pediatric and adult patients with chemical, thermal, and electrical burns, as well as hypothermic patients and individuals with soft tissue diseases, injuries or open wounds requiring special care.

Business/Entrepreneur Nurse

In this nursing specialty, the Business/Entrepreneur Nurse creates his or her own business venture. Entrepreneurship is a high-risk, high-reward profession, but it offers nurses autonomy and the ability to work in a variety of environments.


Cardiology Nursing is a nursing specialty in which the nurse assesses a patient’s health problems and needs. Once this is done the nurse develops and implements nursing-care plans and maintains medical records. They administer pulmonary therapy and medications, monitor vital signs through advanced telemetry and monitoring systems, and perform various other tasks.

Cardiovascular ICU

Nurses in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) care for post-operative cardiac patients. CVICU patients need to be monitored constantly, and require high-acuity nursing care and the use of specialized intensive care equipment.

Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) care for patients under the direct supervision of nursing and medical staff. They take patients’ vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, pulse, etc., and assist patients with daily living activities such as bathing, feeding, etcetera.

Community Health

This is the nursing specialty for those who would like to work in the community. Community Health or Public Health Nurses focus on whole populations, and work with individuals, groups and families to improve the overall health of community.

Critical Care / ICU

Critical Care Nurses work with acutely ill individuals and their families. They practice in settings where patients require complex assessment, continuous nursing vigilance, and high-intensity therapies and interventions.

Developmental Disability

Developmental Disability Nurses provide nursing care to patients who have physical or mental disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, epilepsy, and other neurologically handicapping conditions.


Dialysis nursing is a subspecialty of nephrology nursing, and nurses who follow this nursing specialty care for patients who are undergoing dialysis procedures. They provide nursing care to patients and education to them and their families.


This nursing specialty involves the Disaster Nurse providing effective response and preparedness for man-made or natural events that affect an entire community or communities.


Emergency Nurses care for patients suffering from various illnesses or trauma that requires emergency attention. They must be experienced in rapid assessment and must be able to recognize and effectively treat life-threatening conditions.


Endocrine Nurses are nurse specialists who care for patients with diseases of the endocrine system, including hypertension, diabetes, and pancreatic diseases. They also care for disorders of the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands amongst others.


Gastroenterology (GI) Nurses, or Endoscopy Nurses, care for patients undergoing procedures and interventions that are used to diagnose and treat gastrointestinal problems. Nurses following this nursing specialty diagnose, plan, implement, supervise and evaluate care for gastrointestinal patients.


Geriatric nursing is a popular nursing specialty, and the branch of medicine concerned with the pathological, physiological, and psychological healthcare needs of the aged. Geriatric nurses assess patient health problems and needs, and develop and implement healthcare plans.


Nurses in this specialty educate individuals on how to prevent the spread of HIV. They also help those who are infected to cope with the social, emotional, physical, and psychological aspects of the disease, and teach them how to minimize pain and maximize independence.


Neurosurgical Nurses care for patients who are in need of neurosurgery, which helps patients with dysfunctions of the nervous system; some dysfunctions include problems with consciousness, communication, cognition, mobility and sensation.


Oncology Nurses work with patients suffering from cancer in all stages of their disease. They help patients manage their disease and treatment effectively and some oncology nurses may also administer chemotherapy. They practice in hospitals, outpatient facilities or provide home care for cancer patients.


Parish Nurses combine community and healthcare through their religious affiliation. Nurses in this nursing specialty act as educator, liaison, facilitator and administrator to a church community. They provide the congregation with public healthcare information that may affect them and perform various other tasks.

10 Highest Paying Nursing Specialties

It is difficult to choose a nursing specialty once you have finished your studies, and the fact that virtually every nursing specialty requires a period of on-the-job training and a series of exams to be passed makes time of the essence. Although pay should not be the most important consideration when choosing a nursing specialty, how much one gets paid does enter into the equation, as it is important to many nurses to consider whether the time and money they have to spend on studies will be worth it.

There is generally no difference in pay-scales for male and female nurses, as the belief is that a nurse should be paid for qualifications and performance, not according to gender.
The top paying nursing specialties in the United States are:

1. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: Average Salary $135,000
A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist collaborates with anesthesiologists, dentists, surgeons, and podiatrists to safely administer anesthesia to patients

2. Nurse Researcher: Average Salary $95,000
Nurse Researchers do research and perform analysis; they work for health policy nonprofits or private companies. They publish studies based on data collected on specific medical, pharmaceutical, and nursing products and practices.

3. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner: Average Salary $95,000
The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who provides consultation and care to patients suffering from mental health and psychiatric disorders.

4. Certified Nurse Midwife: Average Salary $84,000
A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) provides primary care to women, including family planning advice, prenatal care, gynecological exams, assistance in labor and delivery, and neonatal care. CNMs work in clinics, health departments, hospitals, private practices and homes. They often have to work unpredictable hours, as the nature of childbirth is unpredictable. CNMs should have good communications skills and must be willing to commit to a holistic approach to patient care.

5. Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse: Average Salary $81,000
A Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse provides care to young children who suffer from diseases and disorders of the endocrine system. This often necessitates educating both children and parents on the physical and sexual development issues that could arise from endocrinology disorders.

6. Orthopedic Nurse: Average Salary $81,000
An Orthopedic Nurse provides care to patients who suffer from musculoskeletal ailments such as arthritis, joint replacement and diabetes. Orthopedic nurses are responsible for educating patients on their disorders and on all available support systems and self-care routines.

7. Nurse Practitioner: Average Salary $78,000
A Nurse Practitioner is responsible for providing basic preventive healthcare to patients. They increasingly serve as both the primary and specialty care provider in many medically underserved areas. The most common areas of specialty for nurse practitioners are acute care, adult practice, pediatrics, women’s health, family practice, and gerontology. There are many other specialties, though.

8. Clinical Nurse Specialist: Average Salary $76,000
A Clinical Nurse Specialist develops homogenous standards for quality care. They work with staff nurses to ensure that those standards are being met. Clinical nurse specialists must possess an ability to anticipate potential conflicts between patients and staff, and strong managerial skills.

9. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner: Average Annual Salary $75,000
Gerontological Nurse Practitioners (GNPs) are in possession of advanced degrees specializing in geriatrics. GNPs diagnose and manage their patients who often have long-term and debilitating conditions; they also provide regular assessments to the patient’s family members. GNPs must have a holistic approach to nursing, and must pay special attention to sustaining a reassuring bedside manner for their elderly patients.

10. Neonatal Nurse: Average Salary $74,000
Neonatal Nurses care for sick and/or premature newborn babies, and also provide consultations to the newborn’s family during what could be an emotionally draining period for the new parents.

As can be seen from the list at the beginning of this article, there are many more nursing specialties than can be discussed in this short article, so if you are interested in specializing, so some research on the Internet into all of the specialties so that you can make an informed decision as to which nursing specialty would be best for you.

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