Ready to put on your scrubs and begin your nursing career but not sure what nursing path to take? With so many nursing specialties -- from a travel nurse to a scrub nurse to a midwife -- it's helpful to narrow down your choices and explore what's possible. Take our short quiz to learn what nursing specialty is best suited for your nursing career!
It’s easy to be inspired to become a nurse when you read about the exploits of famous caregivers such as Florence Nightingale, Mary Eliza Mahoney, and Clara Barton. A nursing career offers a chance to positively influence the lives of people in need. Nurses do much more than just provide basic, friendly care – they are the first responders who play a vital role in the healing process in a variety of healthcare settings.
As the healthcare industry grows, so does the demand for nursing jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15% increase in RN employment from 2016-2026, much faster than average. We can expect growth for many different reasons:
- Increased emphasis on preventive care
- Growing rate of chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes
- The baby-boom population expected to live longer and more active lives
What kind of nurses are there?
There are many nurse fields you might consider when you’re looking to find the perfect nursing specialty, whether you’re a new grad or an experienced nurse looking for your niche.
Different nursing specialties:
- Neonatal nurse (NICU)
- Nurse midwife
- Dialysis nurse
- Pediatric nurse
- Assisted living nurse
- Nurse educator
- Nurse administrator
- Psychiatric nurse
- Home health nurse
- Travel nurse
- Flight nurse
- Oncology nurse
- Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- ...and many more.
Consider your personality traits to find the perfect match.
Think about the kind of person you are and why you want to be a nurse. The best nursing career for you is one that’s most appropriate for your personality and unique aptitude.
Do you love working with kids? Pediatrics is an obvious choice. Are you interested in helping patients over the full lifespan? You may choose to work in geriatric care. Becoming a travel nurse could be a fun and rewarding option if you love to travel and live new experiences. Those who thrive in a high-pace environment may pick a specialty as an OR nurse in emergency services.
No matter what you pick, if you enjoy helping people and get a thrill from bringing them to health, we know nursing is a good career for you—no matter the specialty.
Career pathways: what career is best for you?
But what nursing degree is the right fit? After all, there are quite a few different kinds of college-level nursing programs and degrees out there. Your life situation and educational journey will help inform that answer. Here is a look at a few of the most popular nursing degrees which outline a few possible career paths:
Becoming an LPN is a fantastic way to start your nursing career. It usually takes around 12 months to go back to school to complete your postsecondary non-degree award or diploma as an LPN. With this diploma, you will provide basic nursing care while working under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors.
If you’re weighing your options between becoming an LPN or RN, discover the main differences between an RN and LPN.
You can also pursue your nursing career with the Associate of Science in Nursing degree (ASN). This course of study prepares students to take the National Council Licensing Examination for registered nurses exam (NCLEX-RN) and become a licensed registered nurse (RN). Once you are an RN, you can perform diagnostic tests, operate certain medical equipment, consult with a physician on a course of treatment and administer medication. In addition to working in general healthcare practice, RNs can also specialize in areas such as pre-operative care, diabetes management, pediatric oncology, geriatric care, ambulatory care and dermatology.
Whether you're new to nursing or are already a registered nurse (RN), a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree is increasingly becoming the new standard. Hospitals seeking Magnet Status are looking to hire and encourage their current nursing staff to earn their BSN degree. This degree usually takes students around three to four years to complete, depending on your prior learning experience.
Herzing University offers many different paths to earning your BSN (click through to find campus availability for each program):
- I am new to nursing. Consider our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to earn your degree in 3 years or less.
- I am new to nursing and have a bachelor’s degree in another field. You may be eligible for our accelerated BSN nursing program to earn your bachelor’s degree in as few as 16 months.
- I am an LPN or Paramedic. You can bridge to a bachelor’s degree in nursing by enrolling in Herzing’s LPN to BSN program option.
- I am an RN with an associate’s degree. Go from RN to BSN by completing our online RN to BSN option to earn your degree in 1 year or less – and open doors to a greater variety of career options in nursing.
In order to gain your MSN degree, you must have already obtained your BSN degree. With an MSN degree, you will coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of work depends upon your degree concentration. For example, you can get an MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner online degree or an MSN-Nursing Educator online degree.
Read more about what kind of nurse you can become.
If you’re having trouble finding a specialty, that’s OK—you don’t need to make a decision right now. Herzing University faculty and advisors can help you determine the course of your education. In the meantime, you can do more reading:
- There are many different types of nurses employers are looking for.
- Every nursing specialty has its own unique requirements for education. Read our guide to the several different types of nursing degrees.
- Discover the biggest differences between choosing ADN vs. BSN.
- Here’s a guide to choosing the MSN nursing specialty that’s best for you.
- Find out how non-nurses can become nurse practitioners.
Interested in exploring one of our nursing pathways? Learn more about our nursing programs.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. Herzing does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salary.