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What are the Different Types of Nurses?

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Female nurse with male patient
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Question: What are the Different Types of Nurses?
I am interested in becoming a nurse. What are the different types of nursing roles available, and how do I choose?
Answer: There are many different types of nurses, and many ways to categorize the various nursing roles. If you are thinking of becoming a nurse, it may be helpful to consider the various types of nursing roles that may be available to you once you complete your education and certification process. There are many different ways that nursing roles can be categorized, and they are not mutually exclusive. The nursing career you choose will ultimately result from a combination of education and experience you obtain early in your career:

  • Level of Certification or Education: One way to categorize nursing roles is by the level of education or degree they have, or the type of certification a nurse holds. For more details on the various levels of nursing education, see the nursing career profile, which will help you differentiate between an LVN, RN, MSN, advanced practice nurses, and more.
  • Population: Some nurses specialize in a particular segment of the population. For example, pediatric nurses specialize in children's health, and there are also nurses who focus their careers on women's health, or elder care (geriatrics).
  • Medical Specialty: Nurses may also choose to focus their work and skillset within a particular medical specialty, such as surgery, gastroenterology, OB/GYN, or any other medical specialty.
  • Location, Facility or Department: You may choose your nursing career based on the location. For example, you may choose to be a school nurse, flight nurse, hospice nurse, or hospital-based nurse. Additionally, you may choose to be a nurse who works in the Emergency Room (ER), Operating Room (OR) or NICU (neonatology intensive care unit).

Again, a combination of your education, certifications, and experience will determine the career path you take within the field of nursing, so it is important to have an idea of what type of nursing role may best suit you, before investing the time and money to obtain a nursing degree and license.

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