Over the course of the 20th century, the role of a nurse has undergone significant changes, meaning that if you’re looking for a career in the medical field, there are hundreds of options to choose from. The nursing field has experienced a huge growth in recent years, and with no signs of slowing down, there are all sorts of specialty areas that you may be interested in pursuing for your chosen career.
Before you pick a field that’s right for you, there are various factors to take into consideration, such as how in demand the role is, as well as the type of salary you’re expected to get. To make things easier, here are the top ten best nursing careers based on demand and salary.
While the salary of a school nurse may look like it’s the lowest in the rankings, you need to remember that school nurses tend to only work 9-10 months of the year. Not only that, school nurses have evenings and weekends off, as well as fall and spring vacation. School nurses tend to work without much direct supervision, with the main type of patients for school nurses being school students. The main role of a school nurse is to perform wellness screenings, provide basic first aid for students, and possibly deliver medication administration.
There are some challenges that you may have to face as a school nurse, such as the possibility of having to identify and report child neglect and abuse. It’s likely that you will look after children with both emotional and physical needs, so understanding how to interact and respond to their needs in a personal and professional manner may be difficult at times. If you’re interested in becoming a school nurse, the basic requirements for the role tend to be a few years of experience once you’ve graduated, as well as a licensure. The median salary at present for a school nurse stands at $45,500.
Nursing Home – Head Nurse
For those who are after a challenge, and are looking to take home over $5000 more each year, you may want to consider becoming a head nurse that is based in a nursing home. As you will be in charge, head nurses are expected to have further experience and expertise in acute care, as well as a managerial background that should be present on your resume. In this role, it’s likely that you won’t have to do as much hands-on care. Instead, a head nurse will be involved in making sure that services, procedures, and policies are adhered to. Like with any nursing profession, identifying, evaluating, and caring for the needs of your clients will be your main responsibility.
Some of the challenges that come with being a head nurse include trying to lift team members spirits when they are feeling stressed and overworked which can be difficult. You may also find it challenging to communicate effectively with family members who may not agree with the type of care you’re providing for their loved ones. The median salary of a head nurse is currently $60,700.
Nursing Home – Staff Nurse
If you have a great deal of patience, understanding, and want to make a difference, the role of a staff nurse may be the perfect option for you. Working in a nursing home requires you to think on your feet, and have good assessment skills, especially as physicians may not always be on hand to help. It’s likely that you will need to administer medications to patients who have complex needs too. If you are interested in this type of role, you may need to have several years’ experience in acute care.
While there are many positives that you can get out of being a staff nurse, there are some challenges that you may face too. For example, patients suffering from a disability and those over a certain age may require a great deal of understanding and patience, so knowing how to engage with people who may not be able to communicate due to illness or accident can be a huge challenge. Also, showing compassion and care to those who do not understand or return it can often be difficult. The median salary of a staff nurse currently stands at $55,200.
Burn Unit – Staff Nurse
Even with the obstacles and challenges that staff nurses face when having to deal with patients who have third degree burns and are in an excruciating pain, staff nurses who work on a burns unit still earn a median salary that is far below the median overall salary. As you will be working in a specialized work site, you will need to have additional assessment and understanding for your patients, as well as know how to think on your own two feet to ensure your patients are well looked after.
Working in the burns’ unit can be incredibly challenging, especially as you will see patients, from young children to the elderly, who may have large areas of their body burned. Dealing with psychological shock and projected trauma can be overwhelming, so it’s crucial that you maintain a positive and upbeat attitude to ensure your patients are at ease and receive the best care possible. At present, the median salary of a burns unit staff nurse is $61,900.
Pediatric Home Care – Staff Nurse
While many nurses will work in a medical environment, a staff nurse who specializes in pediatric home care will need to visit patients in their homes to provide care and support. Not only can the role be more difficult as your clients will be children, it can be difficult to accurately diagnose, especially as you won’t have any professional peers nearby who can assist you. If this is the type of role that you’re interested in going into, having institutional experience as a nurse can help you feel more secure about your position in what is considered to be a non-traditional setting.
Also, many pediatric clients have complex health needs, so you need to be prepared to deal with any situation. Keeping a positive, encouraging, and friendly demeanor throughout is key, helping your clients to feel at ease from the get-go. As you won’t have peers close by to consult with, you will need to become confident with making final decisions. The median salary for a pediatric home care staff nurse stands at $62,700.
Hospice Care – Staff Nurse
Palliative care is all about helping those living with a terminal illness achieve the best quality of life possible. As a staff nurse in this field, your main role will be to provide dignity and respect to patients who are in the final stages of life. Some of the people that you will care for may already have got to grips with their end of life reality, while others may be more fearful of the end, so it’s crucial that you provide support and guidance to keep patients happy and at ease.
There are some obstacles that you are likely to face working in hospice care, such as significant others turning up who may not have been in the patient’s life. Knowing how to mediate and calm stressful situations down can be incredibly difficult, especially when you don’t know the full picture of their relationships. While you will be expected to follow orders and know how to assess your patients, it’s vital that you are compassionate and have empathy for those who you are treating. The median salary of a hospice care staff nurse is $63,600.
Phone Triage – Staff Nurse
As the name suggests, this type of role will require you to have excellent communication and listening skills. As you won’t be able to see your clients, you will need to know how to interpret what they are describing. It’s important that you understand how to ask certain questions to ensure you get an accurate account of what is wrong with the patient. It’s likely that you will get people who call in a panic and distress, so knowing how to calm the patient down and provide the best response is crucial.
Working in phone triage can be highly stressful, especially as you will need to feel comfortable making independent judgements without actually seeing the patient face to face. Depending on where you are based, you may field questions from people from all walks of life. For example, on one call you may be talking to an inexperienced minor, whereas on the next you may be engaging with an older confused person who just wants somebody to talk to. No matter who you are on the phone to, you should provide respect, dignity, and do all that you can to ensure they get the help they need. The median salary of a staff nurse in phone triage currently stands at $64,200.
Nursing Home – Nurse Practitioner
In some fields, a nursing home can provide care for patients who are no longer acutely ill (meaning they do not need hospitalization) but are not well enough to be discharged to receive home care. As a nurse practitioner in this sector, while clients will be fairly stable, it’s likely that they will be in a larger group. Curative response and preventative care are key components in this role, and you’ll need to obtain an advanced degree and a certification as a CNRP (Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner) before you can get started.
There are some challenges that you may face as a nurse practitioner. As your clients may suffer from dementia or an accident, they may not be able to clearly express what they are experiencing, so relying on your expertise and knowledge to help identify the problem is crucial, helping to provide an excellent level of care to your patients. Going above and beyond your duty of call will help you flourish as a nurse practitioner. The current median salary of the role is $75,600.
Certified Nurse Midwife
While a certified nurse midwife won’t have as many years of preparation as an OB/Gyn physician would, midwives tend to have more time and experience and are able to be more involved in the care and support of expectant mothers. However, the role of a midwife doesn’t stop after the delivery. It’s important that you are fully involved in the follow up care of the mother too.
No matter how talented you are at your role, there are some surprises that you will encounter as a certified nurse midwife. While some scenarios may end with a happy ending, others may have devastating negative outcomes. It’s important that you know yourself, your capabilities, and your strengths, as you will have to deal with all sorts of situations throughout your career. The median salary of a certified nurse midwife currently stands at $94,000.
Family Nurse Practitioner
The role of a family nurse practitioner is to serve under the eye of a physician to deliver basic and specialty healthcare that’s above and beyond the type of care that is provided by most RN’s (registered nurses). One of your main responsibilities will be to diagnose illnesses and prescribe certain medications to patients. As one of the most lucrative careers in healthcare, there are lots of rewards that you can gain, such as an excellent salary, as well as a pathway to more careers. The median salary of a family nurse practitioner is $105,920.
If you are currently a DNP nurse practitioner, you may be interested in completing a family nurse practitioner program that you can do online, giving you the skills and expertise you need. If you would like more information, you may want to visit Baylor University, where you can download a guide that features the types of courses available, admission requirements, as well as tuition and financial aid information.
Whether you are interested in going into school nursing, working in a nursing home, providing pediatric home care, or becoming a certified nurse midwife, there are so many avenues that you can go down in the nursing field. Like with any role, you will need to have experience, knowledge, and a degree in some cases before you can begin practicing.