Nursing offers many clinical specialty areas - or roles that involve direct patient care. This means that you can choose a very specific area of clinical nursing to focus your attention on, or you can choose a more general area depending upon your personal interests. There's so much to choose from, check out this partial list!
Adult Health - focuses on the nursing care of adults throughout the lifespan. You might work in a hospital, physician's office, clinic, provide home health care - anywhere that adults seek nursing care!
Ambulatory Care - focuses on providing nursing care that does not require hospitalization. You might work in a same day surgery setting or an outpatient testing clinic.
Anesthesia - working as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) you will work with Anesthesiologists or other physicians such as Surgeons or Dentists to provide anesthesia for patients having surgery or needing pain control. This role requires an Advanced Practice Degree.
Clinical Nurse Specialist - this specialty is for nurses with an advanced practice degree and specializing in the advanced nursing care of patients who are primarily in the hospital setting. Working with other health care providers, the CNS will develop and help implement a nursing plan of care for complex patients.
Critical/Intensive Care - patients of all ages who are very sick or who have had major surgery or trauma are often cared for in a Critical or Intensive Care Unit. Nurses who work in these areas often must master some of the most complex medical equipment in addition to caring directly for the patient.
Emergency Room/Flight Nurse - looking for action and adventure in addition to patient care? This is one of the busiest areas for nurses to work. You might work just in the Emergency Room or can be assigned as a Flight Nurse if the hospital has a helicopter/rescue program.
Family Health - nurses who specialize in family health are generally advanced practice nurses and function as a Family Nurse Practitioner or FNP. As a FNP, you would deliver routine care to families in the office or clinic setting. Some FNPs work in hospitals and emergency rooms.
Geriatric/Gerontology - nurses who have an interest in the elderly and the complex care that they often need specialize in geriatrics. You might work in an assisted living setting, a clinic, a nursing home, or a hospital.
Home Care - these nurses go to the patient's home to provide care such as injections, intravenous administration of antibiotics, wound care, patient teaching, ventilator management, pain management, and so on. Many patients who once were kept in the hospital for their care can now go home and have the nurse come to them.
Hospice - nurses who enjoy working with patients at the end of their life may work in the hospice setting. These nurses provide support and care to both the patient and the family members of a dying patient.
Medical/Surgical - nurses who become Med/Surg generalists develop wealth of experience in caring for many patients with many different medical and surgical conditions. These nurses will work in a hospital and are considered one of the most versatile nurses due to their variety of nursing experiences.
Mental Health - nurses who care for patients experiencing mental health disorders may work in a hospital, an outpatient clinic, or a physician's office. These nurses may also serve on crisis support teams and provide care to rape victims and in disaster settings. Nurses with advanced degrees may provide additional counseling and nursing care to these patients.
Mother/Baby - nurses who specialize in the care of mothers and babies may in a variety of settings. You might work in Labor & Delivery caring for mothers as they deliver their babies. This is an exciting area of nursing as you can watch the miracle of life almost everyday. A Nurse Midwife is an advanced practice nurse who has specialized in L&D and is responsible for delivering babies. Nurses who specialize in the care of babies may work in the newborn nursery or care for sick babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Pediatrics - nurses who care for children can be found working in hospitals, physician's offices, and clinics. Another area they might work is in the school system as a School Nurse.
Surgery - nurses who work in the surgical setting provide care to patients before during and after surgery. You might work in a hospital or outpatient surgery center.
Rehabilitation - nurses who care for patients who have had a debilitating illness or injury as they attempt to recover as much of their abilities as possible. Often patients who have had a stroke or a spinal cord injury are the types of patients a rehabilitation nurse would care for either in a in patient or out patient facility.
These are just a broad listing of clinical roles for nurses. There are many more opportunities related to the nursing care of patients with specific diseases such as cardiac, orthopedic, renal, and neurology. For every medical specialty, there is also a companion nursing specialty.