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Types of registered nurses and nurse specialties

January 16, 2023 · 4 min read

You love being a nurse - most of the time. Helping people recover is a truly meaningful calling, but there are aspects of your job that make you want to look for something else. As you know, there are many ways to be a nurse. If you want to change up your routine a bit, there are a few options.


9 unique types of registered nurses (RN)

There are many different types of registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in various areas of healthcare and have different roles and responsibilities. Some examples of the different types of RNs include:

1. Staff Nurses: Staff nurses are RNs who work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities, providing direct patient care and working with physicians and other healthcare professionals to develop and implement treatment plans. 
2. Clinical Nurse Specialists: Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are advanced practice nurses who have specialized education and training in a particular area of healthcare, such as pediatrics, oncology, or emergency care. They may also provide direct patient care and may act as consultants, educators, and researchers. 
3. Nurse Practitioners: Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice nurses who have completed graduate-level education and are licensed to diagnose and treat patients. They may provide primary and specialty care, and may work independently or in collaboration with physicians. 
4. Nurse Anesthetists: Nurse anesthetists (NAs) are advanced practice nurses who specialize in administering anesthesia and managing pain during surgical and other medical procedures. 
5. Nurse Midwives: Nurse midwives (NMs) are advanced practice nurses who specialize in providing primary care to women, including prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. 
6. Nurse Educators: Nurse educators are RNs who work in academic settings, such as colleges and universities, teaching nursing students and conducting research. 
7. Public Health Nurses: Public health nurses (PHNs) are RNs who work in community settings, providing health education, promoting health and wellness, and working to prevent the spread of disease. 
8. Case Managers: Case managers are RNs who work with patients and their families to coordinate and manage care, often in a hospital setting. 
9. Research Nurses: Research nurses work in academic, government, or private sector settings and assist in the design, conduct, and dissemination of research studies. 


RN levels

Registered nurses can be classified by their level of education and experience. This can include licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who have completed a vocational program, and registered nurses (RNs), who have completed an associate's or bachelor's degree program in nursing. 

Additionally, some RNs may have advanced education and certifications, such as in a specialized field or as a nurse practitioner (NP). RNs can be also classified by various criteria, such as: 

1. Level of education and training: RNs can be classified based on the level of education and training they have received. For example, some RNs may have an associate degree in nursing (ADN), while others may have a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) or a graduate degree. 
2. Area of specialization: RNs can also be classified based on the area of healthcare in which they specialize. For example, some RNs may specialize in pediatrics, oncology, or emergency care, while others may specialize in gerontology, mental health, or palliative care. 
3. Setting of practice: RNs can also be classified based on the setting in which they work, such as hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, schools, or private homes. Some RNs may work in specialty areas such as operating rooms, emergency departments, or intensive care units. 
4. Type of role: RNs can also be classified based on the type of role they have, such as staff nurses, clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, nurse educators, public health nurses, case managers, or research nurses. 
5. Type of employer: RNs can also be classified based on the type of employer they work for, such as government, private, non-profit, or for-profit organizations. 

This is not an exhaustive list and there are many other types of RNs that may have different job titles and responsibilities based on the location, facility and healthcare system. 

Additionally, RNs may choose to specialize in different areas or take on leadership roles as they progress in their career.

by Eugene Smirnoff

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