Careers in nursing vary widely based on specialization and experience

Student nurses can prepare themselves for careers in a wide variety of settings both hospital-based and in industry. The following listing is not exhaustive, but describes some of the career opportunities for nurses. For additional information see:

Advanced Practice Nurse: These nurses have earned Master’s degrees in nursing and work in advanced roles such as: Nurse Practitioner (NP); Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS); Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM); Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA); RN First Assistant; and Nurse Psychotherapist.

Cardiac Care Nursing: Nurses in this field work with patients and the families of patients who suffer from heart disease. Some Cardiac Care Nurses are also specialized in critical care nursing in the hospital, but they may also work with patients in the home, assisting with cardiac drug monitoring and providing care to patients who have undergone bypass, angioplasty, or pacemaker surgery.

Community Health Nursing: Nurses in this field work in government and private agencies, clinics, and other private settings. They may focus on particular populations, or work with individuals and groups to improve the overall health of communities. They educate about health care issues, disease prevention, nutrition, and childcare, and also work with community leaders, teachers, parents, and physicians in community health education.

Critical Care Nursing: Nurses in this field care for patients of all ages who are acutely ill or in critical condition. These nurses often work with sophisticated equipment and are also responsible for the emotional welfare of patients and their families.

Educational Nursing: Nurse Educators prepare and mentor future nursing leaders and patient care provividers. They may work as faculty in nursing programs or engage in nursing education in public health agencies, educational associations, hospitals, and community settings. Nurse Educators preparing for a career in a nursing program will need at least a master's degree with a doctoral degree preferred by most colleges.

Emergency Nursing: Nurses in this field provide care for patients in the critical or emergency phase of an illness or trauma, and must be able to recognize life-threatening problems and rapidly arrange necessary care. These nurses are not limited to only working in the emergency room of a hospital.

Geriatric/Gerontology Nursing: With more than 50 percent of patients in hospitals over the age of 65, nurses in this specialty area are a critical part of taking care of older adults. Whether working in the hospital or in a Long-Term Care facility, these nurses have extensive knowledge about the special care needed in rehabilitating and maintaining the mental and physical health of the elderly.

Gynecology and Obstetrics Nursing: Nurses in this field provide care, support, and education for female reproductive health, from a woman’s first menstrual cycle through menopause. This field of nursing is often further specialized into Perinatal Nursing and Labor & Delivery Nursing.

Hospice/Palliative Nursing: Nurses in this field provide sensitive care and pain relief to patients in the final stages of life. They protect patients from unnecessary, painful therapies, and often provide care at home, in order to maximize meaningful time patients can spend with family and loved ones.

Informatics Nursing: Nurses with informatics education bring together knowledge in nursing science, computer science, and information science and work in hospital or industry settings. They are often responsible for managing complex healthcare information systems, facilitating training, and implementing changing procedures and policies for new systems.

Medical-Surgical Nursing: The men and women in this field are registered nurses who work in hospitals, acute care units, home care, and long-term care facilities to provide care for primarily adult patients before and after surgical procedures. They also attend to those who are being treated with medications to manage illness.

Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing: Nurses in this field provide care and support for very sick or premature newborn babies and their families.

Nurse Practitioner: Nurse Practitioners are Registered Nurses with one-to-two years of advanced education beyond a bachelor's degree who are able to diagnose illness and prescribe interventions through interview and physical exam, order specific labs and diagnostic testing, and prescribe medications. They also provide health care education, counseling, and supportive care to an individual, family, or community.

Oncology Nursing: Nurses in this field provide care and support for patients diagnosed with cancer. These nurses are responsible for administering chemotherapy and managing symptoms related to cancer illnesses.

Travel Nursing: These nurses accept short or long term positions all over the world. Traveling nurses may work anywhere throughout the country and the world, and therefore enjoy a great variety of assignments.