When you search through the Internet for information about nursing, you’ll discover stories about individuals who state that they’ve “wanted to be a nurse” since as long as they can remember. The nursing profession has a wide appeal to those who want to help people who are sick. But, the nursing profession means much more than this — through nursing specialties, individuals can hone in on an area of concentration that can help future generations through hands-on research, observation and education. These specialties and their sub-specialties are, perhaps, more varied than those in any other profession.

So, to simply say that you want to be a nurse is a broad statement. The only profession that comes close to the wide-ranging “nurse” perception is the medical-surgical nurse who provide cares for primarily adult patients before and after surgical procedures. The medical-surgical nurse has, traditionally, represented the foundation of nursing, as this area is the clinical practice where new graduates receive basic experience. But, the medical-surgical nurse has become a specialty that focuses on holistic care, even though nurses who have entered the nursing field through this specialty have gone on to one of almost 100 other focused nurse specialties.

Medical-surgical nursing practices have served as the launchpad for specialization in oncology, cardiology, neurology, forensics and more. All these specialties have sub-specialties where nurses can gain even more education and experience. For instance, the fairly recent forensic nursing field, which combines nursing with the judicial field, was recognized in 1995 as a nursing specialty. Since that time, a subgroup of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) was developed to help women who are victims of sexual assault. Forensic and SANE nurses often have the advantage of helping to create their own positions, and even whole forensic nursing departments within hospitals and clinics as this field is so new.

Other specialties within the nursing profession may seem ancient, such as military nursing. But, while Florence Nightingale remains an inspiration to many individuals who want to serve their country as nurses, Ms. Nightingale would never be able to envision this nursing specialty as it exists now. The technological trends and educational possibilities available through military nursing service today would astound any military nurse from a decade ago, let alone from a century ago.

If you want to be a nurse, you might want to study all the specialties available within this field. You may discover a niche that is perfect for you, and you can refine your educational and career goals in the process. To that end, the specialties listed on this site are some of the most commonly known within the nursing field. This list can help you jump-start your ideas about how you want to shape your future as a nurse.

Types of Nursing Specialties

  • Cardiac Nursing
    Cardiac nursing includes many sub-specialty areas that relate to patients with heart problems. Since the heart is vital to life, the cardiac nurse must be skilled in all areas that...
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  • Cruise Ship Nursing
    Most employees wait until retirement to travel extensively, but cruise ship nurses (CSN) can travel while working. While this deal sounds irresistible, cruise ship nurses need extensive education and experience...
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  • Dialysis Nursing
    Dialysis nurses provide extensive care for patients who suffer from renal failure or chronic kidney conditions. The need for dialysis nurses has expanded in recent years, thanks to the growth...
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  • Emergency Nursing
    Emergency nurses care for patients in the critical or emergency phase of an illness or trauma, but they are not limited to working in a hospital's emergency room. They must...
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  • Forensic Nursing
    Forensic nursing is a relatively new field that combines the health care profession with the judicial system. In 1995 the American Nurses Association officially recognized it as a specialty of...
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  • Geriatric Nursing
    Older adults are the core business of health care in this country today, representing the majority of primary and home care visits, hospital admissions, and long-term care residents. Recent Census...
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  • Hospice Nursing
    A movement toward sensitive and caring hospice care has evolved in the United States over the past twenty-five years. Hospice nurses provide psychosocial, emotional and spiritual care and pain relief...
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  • Hospital Nursing
    If you want a versatile career where you can satisfy your need to help people, then hospital nursing might be for you. The demand is on for hospital nurses, as...
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  • IV Therapy Nursing
    An IV therapist, also known as a phlebotomist, is trained for clinical procedures such as drawing blood samples from humans, injecting fluids, and injecting drugs. Specially trained phlebotomists collect arterial...
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  • Medical-Surgical Nursing
    Medical-surgical nurses are RNs (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...
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  • Military Nursing
    These nurses provide medical care for fellow soldiers in all branches of the US military, including Army, Navy, Air Force, as well as in the US Public Health service. Military...
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  • Neonatal Nursing
    Neonatal nursing was developed in the 1960s, and the nurses who are involved in this specialty take care of babies during the first 28 days of life. Duties of a Neonatal...
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  • Neurosurgical Nursing
    A health institution's neurosurgical ward presents a challenging yet rewarding place for nurses who choose this specialty, which is a sub-specialty within the field of medical-surgical nursing....
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  • OB Nursing
    Obstetrical nursing is an exciting and challenging profession that requires care and patience. OB nurses deal with an entire family -- from the baby to the grandparents, and to any...
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  • Oncology Nursing
    Nurses in this field provide care and support for cancer patients who are either chronically or critically ill and to their family members. Oncology nurses are responsible for administering chemotherapy...
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  • Operating Room Nursing
    If you want a meaningful career that pays well, you might consider employment as a perioperative nurse, also known as an operating room or OR nurse. OR nurses are Registered...
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  • Orthopedic Nursing
    Orthopedic nursing focuses on the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. Orthopedic issues range from acute problems such as fractures or hospitalization for joint replacement to chronic systemic disorders such...
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  • Pediatric Nursing
    Pediatric nurses specialize in the care and treatment of young patients ranging in age from infancy to late teens. But, the role of the pediatric nurse continues to evolve and...
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  • Plastic Surgery Nursing
    Men and women who choose this nursing field will care for patients who undergo cosmetic procedures to correct physical abnormalities or perceived abnormalities. These surgeries range from small, elective procedures...
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  • Psychiatric Nursing
    Nurses in this field aid and support the mental health of patients with acute or chronic psychiatric needs in a variety of settings. The need for psychiatric mental health nursing...
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  • Radiology Nursing
    Radiology nursing, also known as cardiac catheterization lab nursing, involves supporting patients as they undergo radiation imaging. Radiology nurses must know how to use ultrasonography, radiation oncology, or magnetic resonance...
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  • Substance Abuse Nursing
    Substance abuse has been rated as one of this country's top medical issues for over two decades. Nurses who can provide medications and care to those who suffer from addictions...
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  • Telemetry Nursing
    Nurses in this field provide care by comfortably connecting patients to machines that measure heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, as well as blood-oxygen level and electrocardiogram information. Nurses...
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  • Triage Nursing
    The word, "triage" comes from the French, "trier," meaning 'to sort.' It is a system used by emergency medical personnel to ration physical resources during an emergency situation. Triage nurses...
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  • Urology Nursing
    Urologic nurses care for patients across the lifespan, providing guidance and treatment and preventative care for a variety of urologic diseases and concerns in all health care settings where acute...
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Find a Nursing Degree

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Top 10 Online Nursing Schools

University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix — BSN, MSN, and Certificate. The University of Phoenix is the nation's largest online university and currently offers several nursing programs at three different degree levels, based on previous nursing education and experience.

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Kaplan University
Kaplan University — Bachelor's, and Master's Nursing Degrees. Kaplan's School of Nursing offers specializations for nurse administrators and nurse educators.

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Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University — BS in Nursing (BSN) and MBA/MS in Nursing. Grand Canyon University offers a unique MBA/MS in nursing degree program that teaches students about the business aspect of healthcare, specifically nursing healthcare. Current nurses who want more business experience will find this may be an ideal fit.

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Liberty University
Liberty University — RN to BSN Degree and MSN Degree. The Department of Nursing at Liberty prepares students for baccalaureate level nursing, putting strong emphasis on Christian ethical standards and viewing nursing as a ministry of caring.

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Walden University
Walden University — M.S. in Nursing (RN Track), M.S in Nursing (BSN Track). Walden offers a wide variety of nursing degrees and certificates that are all accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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