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Exploring Advanced Careers in Nursing

Newly graduated registered nurses continue to be in high demand across the country to fill some 587,000 new positions through 2016. Many openings will be created by retiring professionals, but additional opportunities will be created whenever nurses complete continuing education or advanced degree work in medical specializations and vacate their floor nursing roles.

If you're still in nursing school, it's a good time to evaluate your career goals and map out optional training for higher-paying specializations. To qualify for advanced nursing, consider enrolling in RN to BSN, master's degree, advanced practice training, and doctorate of nursing programs.

Nurses can specialize by the nature of organs (or body systems) involved in treatment, in a precise medical setting, or in serving a specific medical population. Here are four examples to ponder:

Respiratory Nursing
Respiratory nurses work with a population of patients who suffer from tuberculosis, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. To prepare, consider training in oxygen therapies, diagnosis, pharmacologic treatments, and patient education.

Occupational Health Nursing
In this example of a nursing profession characterized by setting, occupational health nurses are typically employed in a work environment, rather than in a care facility. They may specialize in assessing and prescribing remedies for occupational or safety (on-the-job) risks for injury or illness. Studies in epidemiology and toxicology can help you get there.

Orthopedic Nursing
Orthopedic nursing is a specialty focused around a body system. In this case, orthopedic nurses work with bones, muscles, and connective tissue disorders or injuries, including fractures, sprains, muscular dystrophy, or chronic arthritis. You'll need training beyond the associate degree level.

Psychiatric Nursing
Psychiatric nurses combine work with a specific body system (the brain) and a focus on a specific population with mood disorders and disease. To qualify, nurses often take additional training in the administration and monitoring of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and other medications. They may also train in assisting electroconvulsive therapy or psycho-social interventions.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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