Types of Nurses
Nurses can take one of several career paths to determine the primary type of nurse he/she would like to become. Within those primary types of nurses, each nurse can also specialize in a certain area of nursing.
Primary Types of Nurses
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
These nurses are Registered Nurses with specialized training in the administration and care of anesthesia. CNRNAs will work with and care for patients that needs anesthesia for dental work and other procedures. They will prepare a patient for anesthesia, administer the drug during surgery, and provide support post-op.
Home Health Nurse (HHN)
HHNs are found in private care settings. In the event that a person needs home care, a home health care organization can send nurses from their staff to provide this care. HHNs often form strong bonds with the patient and family they care for. HHNs will sometimes be found in nursing homes or assisted living facilities if the patient or family continues to use their services. These nurses are also employed by HOSPICE- a company that provides end of life care.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
LPNs are the ‘basic’ licensed nurse. They can do many things that RNs do, but are not authorized to perform certain types of care in certain states, such as start IVs, order diagnostics, or evaluate illness for diagnosis. The scope of practice does vary by state and in some areas an LPN may be found working in a similar capacity to an RN. These nurses most often supervise CNAs and provide personal care in facility settings, including the passing of medication.
LVN is the dominant term in the Southern United States, but may be used in other areas.
Nurse midwives offer prenatal care to pregnant women, deliver infants, and provide post partum support. These nurses may work in a practice or clinic, while others may work independently. Some midwives offer homebirth and delivery for their patients.
Nurse practitioners offer care that is sometimes confused with that of a physician. However, NPs are RNs that have completed their Master or Doctorate degree in nursing and have training in diagnosis and treatment of illness. Their scope of practice is different from a physician as NPs focus on the preventition of illness through well being and education, while doctors focus on treating illness. NPs may prescribe medication, order x-rays and other diagnostics.
Occupational Health Nurse
These nurses are employed by companies to care for and educate employees. They are on hand to provide emergency first aid for employees. These nurses may stabilize an injured employee until emergency care is administered by paramedics.
Public Health Nurse (PHN)
PHNs work with community leaders to help pinpoint actions that can help improve the health of a community and give consultation in the event of disease epidemics. They will visit community centers and other public facilities to help educate people in the community about disease, well being, and even food choices. These nurses are seen more in cities, but exist in small, rural communities as well. Most work in a local health department.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered Nurses are found in all of the above jobs. They supervise other nurses, assist physicians in patient treatment and care. This license and both degrees (ASN and BSN) are required to fulfill most positions on this list. All LPNs report to an RN in their jobs.
These nurses travel the country and work for periods of time in hospitals that are experiencing a shortage of nurses. This career has a huge growth opportunity as the shortage of nurses in the US has become extreme. The population is growing and many people are entering nursing homes or suffering from age related disease. Health care has increased life expectancy which in turn increases the number of people with age related health issues. These nurses may specialize in any of the above careers.
These nurses help treat patients that are at risk of or are suffering from cardiovascular disease. They provide care and support in a hospital setting, nursing home, or in a private residence.
Nurses in this specialty help paitents in recovery from heart or lung procedures. They are found in recovery rooms and special post-op units.
General Medicine Nurse:
These are the nurses that you see daily in a hospital. They may work on any floor as needed.
Patients with kidney disease and on dialysis are cared for by these nurses. Hemodialysis nurses may care for kidney patients in hospitals, clinics, or residences.
Labor and Delivery Nurse:
If you visit the labor and delivery floor of a hospital, you will meet labor and delivery nurses. These nurses specialize in the care of pregnant women in labor and during the birth experience.
Nurses in this group routinely help doctors during surgery. They are expected to keep up to date on all changes in the medical/surgical field and have specific continuing education credits they must study in order to stay in this area.
If you or a loved one are recovering from a brain event, such as a stroke, you will receive care from a neurology nurse. A nurse in this area may work in a hospital, brain trauma clinic, or provide home health care.
These nurses care for newborns on the labor and delivery floor. They work hand in hand with labor and delivery nurses.
A nurse in this field will work with doctors that specialize on Obstretics and Gynecology. They are trained to understand diseases specific to women’s reproductive health.
Broken bones, weak bones, and everything to do with our skeletal structure is attended to by nurses in this specialization. You will find these nurses in orthopedic clinics, sports medicine, and in hospitals.
Cancer patients are cared for by oncology nurses. They spend their time treating and studying the effects, medications, and new developments in cancer.
Pediatric nurses are found in children’s hospitals, clinics, and hospitals. Some nurses in this field work in home health care and help provide support for special needs or ill children at home.
Nurses that work in psychiatric wards have special education designed to help them care for the unique needs of people suffering from mental illness. You will find these nurses in hospitals, certain nursing homes, and in mental health clinics.
This field of nursing is served most often in large cities with specialty hospital units. They care for people that have lung disease, though not for surgery related pulmonary illness.
CCU or Cardiac Care Unit:
Nurses in this unit will provide care and support for patients and the family in the event of a non-surgical heart episode.
In the event of a heart attack or other cardiac injury, these nurses are on the unit to care for serious cardiac related care. They are trained to respond to the needs of post-surgery cardiac patients and heart attack patients.
From Triage to emergency trauma care, these nurses are trained to care for every emergency episode. Emergency nurses are at the front line of all hospital care and are the most up to date nurses in a hospital on trauma treatment.
If a patient needs transport to a larger or more equipped hospital or trauma center, this type of nurse will be on the flight to provide in transport support.
The nurses care for patients that are very ill or severely injured. Most have not been through surgery.
Babies that are injured during birth, have special needs at birth, or are pre-term (preemies) need special people to care for them. The Neonatal ICU nurse is that person.
People that have had severe head injury will be in a special intensive care unit that is serviced by these nurses. Other patients, such as those with other brain episodes (aneurism or stroke) will be cared for by these nurses as well.
Post Anethesia :
After surgery that does not require a hospital stay or admittance into an intensive care unit, these are the nurses that will care for patients.
Babies and children that are involved in serious accidents, have a severe illness, or complications from special needs will receive support from pediatric ICU nurses.
When something goes wrong during or after surgery, surgical ICU nurses care for the patients. This includes surgery for trauma from accidents.
Though these consultants are not always nurses, many are. These nurses help new mothers learn how to breastfeed their baby and offer advice for new mothers on what to do if they are overwhelmed.
Clincial Research Nurse:
When a clinical research trial is conducted, these nurses help. They will record information, speak with patients, and recruit them into a research trial.
These nurses may assist during autopsies, collect samples from victims, and provide support to forensic doctors.