types of nursing careers

25 Types of Nurses You May Not Know About

When we think of nurses, we often think of those bustling about the hospital, helping people in need. We may think of the nurse that treats us during our annual exam at the doctor’s office, or remember the kind school nurse from our younger years. While it’s true that many nurses work in these settings, the career opportunities stretch far beyond the ER and medical office. In fact, there are all types of nurses – working in all types of settings – that all play a critical role in the greater healthcare field.

If you are an aspiring nurse, you may be wondering what your options are within the nursing field. What are the types of nursing careers out there, and which are within your reach? You may wonder how far nursing school will get you, or how far you should take your nursing degree to attain your dream career. These are all important factors to consider as you carve out your future path.

Below, we explore the different types of nurses out there, as well as the places in which you can work.

Types of Nursing Workplaces

Back in 1980, a notable two-thirds of registered nurses worked in hospitals. They ensured patients were comfortable, tended to, and treated during their hospital stays. Over the years, however, the field of nursing has expanded. Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 60 percent of registered nurses work in hospitals. But, despite popular belief, these are not solely in general hospital settings. Less than one-third of nurses today work in general medical and surgical hospital settings. The types of nursing workplaces have become more diverse. Specifically, in May 2020, the BLS reported:

  • 31 percent of RNs worked in general medical and surgical hospitals
  • 24 percent worked in specialty hospitals
  • 16 percent worked in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals
  • 16 percent worked in outpatient care centers
  • 11 percent worked in home healthcare settings
  • 9 percent worked in nursing care facilities, such as nursing homes
  • 7 percent worked in the offices of physicians

These are just some of the many career options available to aspiring nurses. Of course, the opportunities extend beyond the workplace. Below are various titles you can also pursue within the nursing field, all at different levels of nursing depending on your desired degree.

All Types of Nurses Are In Demand

Nursing is an incredibly important field, and one that is full of opportunity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare is the fastest growing industry in the United States today, with more job openings than any other occupation. Nursing makes up the largest percentage of healthcare workers within this field, and the number of registered nurses is only expected to grow. Between 2019 and 2029, it’s estimated that nearly 222,000 nursing jobs will become available for aspiring RNs, bringing the number of registered nurses in the United States to more than 3,300,000.

The demand for nurses is consistently high, as nurses are needed in nearly all sectors of the healthcare industry. That is part of the beauty of becoming a nurse. Not only will you have many job prospects, but you also have many different directions you can take your nursing career.

Today, nurses can be found in hospitals, pediatricians’ offices, private practices, substance abuse centers, and elderly homes. They can specialize in cardiology, geriatrics, holistic sciences, oncology, even midwifery. The options are endless for highly trained, educated nurses holding nursing degrees.

Different Types of Nurses

If you are looking to pursue a career in nursing, rest assured that the job opportunities for you will be abundant in the coming years – so long as you take the right steps with your education. Earning an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing school will qualify you for a multitude of nursing careers in this growing field. Even more opportunities become available to you with a master’s in Nursing in hand. Below you can explore some of the many types of nurses you can become – career options to keep top-of-mind as you begin your educational path.

  1. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) – APRNs treat and diagnose patients in need, and may prescribe medications. There are many types of APRNs, all taking on an advanced scope of practice and an expanded role than the registered nurse. For this reason, APRNs require at least a master’s degree in Nursing (MSN) to become licensed in this role.
  2. Critical Care Nurse – Critical care nurses are registered nurses that work in intensive care units. They provide complex care to those with critical illnesses or serious injuries that require rigorous care. With this, many critical care nurses hold a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree.
  3. Family Nurse Practitioner – Family Nurse Practitioners, commonly called FNPs, act as primary care providers for patients. They assess patients, coordinate treatment plans, prescribe medications, and have an advanced scope of work. Becoming an FNP requires a master’s degree.
  4. Forensic Nurse – Forensic nurses evaluate victims of crimes who may have been subject to physical violence. They assess biological evidence for criminal cases to present in court. Forensic nurses may practice with an associate or bachelor’s nursing degree.
  5. Geriatrics Nurse – Geriatric nurses are RNs that care for elderly patients. Typically, these patients are very ill or, due to their age, very dependent on others to function and live. Geriatric nurses may work in patient homes, nursing homes, and hospitals.
  6. Holistic Nurse – Holistic nurses integrate medical care with spirituality and/or natural methods of care. They practice organic remedies and emphasize a wholesome approach to healing. Ho
  7. Home Health Nurse – Home health nurses are typically registered nurses that work directly in patients’ homes. Patients may be elderly, disabled, or chronically or terminally ill, but in any case, cannot live independently without the care of a nurse.
  8. Labor and Delivery Nurse – This type of nurse typically works in hospitals in the OB/GYN department. Some may work in OB/GYN private practices, as well. Labor and delivery nurses assist mothers through birth, provide supportive care for newborn babies, and help in the postnatal treatment of the mother and child.
  9. Managed Care Nurse – Managed care nurses are RNs that work with patients who require long-term care. These patients have chronic or terminal conditions and who require specialized care for the rest of their lives.
  10. Military Nurse – Nurses are always needed in the military to care for ill and wounded soldiers and other personnel. The U.S. Military requires nurses in this position to hold a BSN degree.
  11. Neonatal Nurse – Much like their title entails, neonatal nurses work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, tending to very sick and premature babies who need continuous support and care.
  12. Nurse Case Manager – Nurse case managers assess, plan, and facilitate services to meet an individual’s health needs. This may include finding affordable and accessible medical resources for a patient, and ensuring they are set up to receive high-quality care. Typically, RN case managers hold a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree.
  13. Nurse Consultant – Nurse consultants main role is to evaluate patient care – they may do this for a hospital facility, assessing the overall delivery of services, or for individual patients, assessing symptoms and making recommendations on treatment.
  14. Oncology Nurse – Oncology nurses work directly with cancer patients. They work on a team of doctors to care for patients undergoing intensive cancer treatments, who are battling cancer, and who are at risk of developing cancer.
  15. Pediatric Nurse – This type of nurse works with babies, children, and teens (between the ages of 0 and 19) on primary and preventative care. Pediatric nurses often work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, schools, and private practices alongside a pediatrician.
  16. Physician’s Office Nurse – This type of nurse works in a private practice of a physician, commonly known as a doctor’s office. They often work with a team of nurses, medical assistants, as well as the physicians.
  17. Prison Nurse – Prison nurses provide preventive and routine care for those in the criminal justice system. They also help prisoners manage existing conditions, or care for inmates who fall sick or injured in any way.
  18. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) – PMHNPs assess and treat patients with psychiatric and mental health disorders. These nurse practitioners are a type of APRN that specializes in mental health care, and therefore require a specialized master’s degree. PMHNPs can often be found working in hospitals, wards, or prisons.
  19. Public Health Nurse – Public health nurses work with communities and populations to improve medical initiatives and educate others on proper healthcare. They may research diseases within a population, administer tests to prevent illness in communities, or create programs to ensure the public receives proper healthcare. This position typically requires a Bachelor’s in Nursing combined with focused coursework in public health.
  1. Research Analyst – Research analysts, or nurse researchers, are scientists who work on medical studies and industry research, helping to pave the future of healthcare. Most nurse researchers have an advanced nursing degree or even a Ph.D.
  2. School Nurse – School nurses work directly with school-age children, in educational institutions. This is considered one of the least stressful nursing careers, due to regular school hours and holiday time.
  3. Surgical RN – Surgical nurses’ chief role is to assist surgeons during procedures. In addition to this, surgical nurses often care for patients before, during, and after surgery.
  4. Trauma Nurse – Trauma nurses are registered nurses who work in fast-paced patient care environments. For example, trauma nurses may be found in a critical care unit or emergency room, thinking on their feet and providing care to patients in critical need.
  5. Travel Nurse – Travel nurses benefit from the flexibility to travel across the nation – and the world – to work with patients in need. Typically, this type of nurse will work in short durations of time in hospitals and care settings that are experiencing a shortage of nurses.
  6. Women’s Health Nurse – A women’s health nurse specializes in fields such as OB/GYN, reproductive health, infertility, mammography, and general women’s health. Typically these nurses can be found in OB/GYN private practices, as well as OB/GYN care units.

Choosing Your Path in Nursing

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there are more than three times as many registered nurses in the United States as licensed physicians. And as noted above, the need for nurses is only growing! Nurses are needed to deliver a comprehensive array of healthcare services to a diversity of patients, including primary and preventive care, in specializations such as (but not limited to) pediatrics, family health, women’s health, and geriatric care.

Ultimately, the type of nurse you choose to become will prove to be an important, rewarding, and respected career where you will make a difference. There is no wrong choice when it comes to choosing a nursing career or a type of nursing degree, as long as you follow your interests and professional goals along the way. To learn more about the different pathways of nursing, or to start your nursing career in Connecticut, you can always contact us.

Goodwin University is a leading nursing school in Connecticut, with associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in Nursing. Learn more about these nursing programs by visiting us online.