If you’ve been exploring what you can do with your online nursing degree, you’ve probably learned already that there are many avenues for specialty certification. That is one of the great benefits of nursing – it is a broad field with many opportunities for specialization and advancement. Most of us are at least familiar with registered nursing specialties such as school nursing, medical-surgical nursing (sometimes shortened to “med-surg”) and pediatric nursing. If you watch much television or many movies, you’ve surely also noticed flight nurses in action. Wikipedia lists over 60 nursing specialties, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center offers 27 specialty certifications.
What about the many lesser-known, but often growing, nursing specialties you don’t likely come across as regularly? Let’s summarize some of those.
Informatics nurses are responsible for system implementation and optimization. They incorporate information technology into their workplaces and train other staff on new technology. They may manage and communicate patient and hospital data as well. Many in this field hold an advanced degree. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the average annual salary for a nurse informaticist is $100,717. If you are good at working with technology and data, this is a great specialty with growing opportunities.
The CDC’s 2013 US Breastfeeding Report Card states that 77% of US infants now begin breastfeeding, with 49% still breastfeeding at six months (up from 35% in 2000). As more and more babies are breastfed, the demand for lactation education and support has increased. Lactation nurses generally provide this kind of consultation and education for new mothers and families. You should consider this specialty if you like working with new mothers and newborns.
Domestic Violence Nursing
A domestic violence nurse cares for any victims of domestic violence. While there isn’t yet a specific nursing certification in this new but growing field, many of these RNs take the Forensic Nursing certification exam and then work as a registered nurse in domestic violence. Domestic violence is a very emotional and personal experience. You should only consider this specialty if you are prepared to work with patients who have been through this type of very traumatic experience.
Infection Control Nursing
These nurses work with patients and staff to reduce the spread of infection. They may create infection control plans and educate other staff on prevention methods like proper sanitary practices. Certification is available through the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. If epidemiology, germs and the spread of diseases has always interested you, this could be the specialty for you!
Space nurses study the effects of space travel on humans, and in theory care for patients in space. The Space Nursing Society may only have 400 members worldwide, but if space colonization ever becomes a reality, demand for this currently very niche specialty may increase rapidly. Lt. Dolores O’Hara is widely considered the first space nurse, and you can learn more about her here. While this nursing specialty is not in demand currently, it is an interesting look at a very specific specialty.
So there you have it – everything from nursing right out of your favorite science fiction novel to a nursing field for computer science-minded folks. If you didn’t find something that interests you here, there are many, many more specializations from which to choose. If you want to take the first step, Utica College has two locations in Syracuse, New York and Tampa, Florida, with a 16-month online nursing program that results in a bachelor of science in nursing.