10 Nursing Specialties in Demand

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There are many nursing specialties in demand, including labor and delivery nurses, critical care nurses, travel nurses and more. Exploring nursing traits and contacting nursing professionals can help you learn more about each. In addition, learn how to decide which specialty is the right fit for you.

nurse taking notes while talking to child patient

Nursing is a dynamic field offering the opportunity to help and serve patients daily. The diversity of the career in terms of specialization is another reason many pursue nursing. With data demonstrating increasing concerns surrounding the national nursing shortage, nursing specialties (as well as generalist RNs) are more in demand than ever. After earning your bachelor’s degree, passing the NCLEX-RN to gain licensure, and practicing as a nurse, you can work toward certification in a specialty practice area.

Utica University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program provides a pathway if you want to enter the nursing career faster. Through the ABSN program, you can graduate with your Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as 16 months without sacrificing the quality of education or flexibility.

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Below, we explore ten of the best nursing specialties you can pursue on this exciting career path.

1. Labor and Delivery Nurse

Labor and delivery nurses, or L&D nurses, care for pregnant women and their children before, during, and immediately after birth. They work alongside midwives and physicians, providing nursing care throughout the labor and delivery process and beyond.

L&D nurses can eventually earn their Registered Nurse in Obstetrics (RNC-OB) certification.

2. Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal nurses care for newborn babies who have conditions or complications after birth. They usually work in a hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Neonatal nurses provide nursing care for premature or high-risk babies, intervene in emergencies, and communicate with the parents.

Neonatal nurses can pursue an RNC-NIC certification after working in the NICU for two years and fulfilling other requirements.

3. Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses work with children receiving medical treatment, building rapport with patients and families while delivering care to those who are medically complex. They also collaborate and communicate with parents throughout a child’s medical care. They may work in a hospital, a pediatric care facility, or other medical center.

Pediatric nurses can earn their PED-BC certification after gaining experience working in this practice area.

nurse listening to child patient's heartbeat

4. Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses work across various healthcare environments to assess and care for patients requiring intensive medical care. They respond to emergencies, administer medication, and monitor unstable patients closely. The critical care environment is fast-paced and requires decision-making under pressure while caring for patients in critical condition. Critical care nurses are trained to think on their feet and adapt to change quickly, as these situations can evolve minute to minute.

Critical care and emergency nurses must gain critical care experience before pursuing their CCRN certification.

5. Travel Nurse

With a growing need for nurses nationwide, travel nursing has become an increasingly large industry. Travel nurses typically work short-term contracts, anywhere from three to six months at a time, filling needs in various hospitals and clinics. These nurses work in many specialties but must be flexible and willing to help wherever needed. They typically find job placements through travel nursing agencies rather than hospitals.

Most agencies require at least 1–2 years of experience after graduation, if not more, before you can fill a travel nursing assignment.

nurse on roadside holding phone

6. Operating Room/Surgical Nurse

Operating room or surgical nurses work primarily with surgeons during procedures and provide preoperative and postoperative care. They help ensure the best possible outcome for patients. Surgical nurses also communicate with families, giving updates and postoperative instructions to patients and their caregivers.

Bachelor’s-prepared operating room or surgical nurses are associated with improved patient outcomes in surgical studies. After gaining experience, you may choose to pursue CNOR certification. Research all certification options to determine what is best for you.

7. Flight Nurse

Flight nurses are a vital part of the healthcare system, triaging care while patients are emergency-transported to hospitals by helicopter or plane. Flight nursing can be challenging since these nurses work exclusively with patients in emergencies until they reach their destination.

To become a flight nurse, you must become a registered nurse (RN) and gain experience working in a critical care nursing unit such as the ICU. The certification program for flight nursing is a CFRN.

8. Forensic Nurse

Forensic nurses are specialized nurses who work within the criminal justice system, providing patient care to crime victims and collaborating with police officers or lawyers. Crime victims may have experienced physical or sexual violence, so these nurses must be sensitive while conducting a complete analysis and record of events. Forensic nurses can appear in court to provide evidence and professional opinions.

After becoming an RN, you may pursue certification through the Forensic Nursing Certification Board or the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) as a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). The type of certification you pursue depends on the area of forensics in which you will specialize.

9. Home Health Nurse

Home health nurses travel to patients’ homes to provide care. These nurses may work in hospice, providing end-of-life care, communicating closely with patients’ families, or helping patients with chronic conditions remain comfortable during their day-to-day lives with medication and pain management. Home health nurses care for the basic needs of individuals and help patients stay out of the hospital.

Most home care agencies prefer inpatient nursing experience before transitioning to home health.

nurse shaking hand of patient while entering home

10. Correctional Facility Nurse

Correctional nurses are RNs working in detention facilities rather than hospitals or traditional medical centers. These facilities include juvenile detention centers, jails, prisons, state penitentiaries, and holding facilities.

Those interested in this nursing specialty can pursue CCHP-RN certification for correctional facility nursing after becoming a licensed RN and fulfilling requirements for practice hours.

Are you coming to nursing from a military background? Learn how to leverage your career in the military to make the change.

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How to Choose a Nursing Specialty

Even with all this knowledge about various nursing career paths, you may still be wondering how to know what nursing specialty is right for you. There are a few ways to determine if you will be the right fit.

Explore Your Nursing Preferences

Each nursing specialty requires a different skill set and personality. For example, an individual who thrives in the ICU environment may have a different temperament from someone who works in pediatrics, and vice versa. Learn what traits are best for your preferred specialties to help narrow your options.

Ask Nursing Professionals

Utilize your clinical experiences and networking opportunities to ask as many questions as possible. Discover the benefits and challenges of each specialty. It may be the right fit if you can say the difficult parts are worth it.

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Get Started with Utica’s ABSN

If you want to enter one of these nursing specialties in demand, Utica University’s ABSN program in Central New York and Albany is a great way to get there. Our program allows students with non-nursing education credits to earn their B.S. in Nursing and take the NCLEX in as few as 16 months.

Reach out today to learn more about how you can leverage your education at Utica University, and an admission representative will contact you to discuss your eligibility.

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