The most popular nursing specialties in the US

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One great aspect of choosing nursing as your profession is all the specialty options you have – depending on your interests and goals, there are dozens to choose from. With all of these options, though, it can be difficult to decide what specialty to pursue.

Doing a pre-nursing internship is one way to learn about different specialties first-hand, and watch nurses in action. If possible, try to do a pre-nursing internship shadowing nurses in various specialties. Some of the most popular nursing specialties in the U.S. include the following:

Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives are becoming more common and more in demand. Midwives care for women during pregnancy, labor and beyond. Many also provide routine primary and gynecological care for women of all ages. To become a midwife, you need to become a licensed RN and complete a midwifery program.

ICU Nurse

Critical care nursing continues to be a popular specialty for nurses. Nurses in the ICU care for patients with serious illnesses and injuries. Some nurses choose to narrow their focus even more and work in trauma or cardiac intensive care units. If you enjoy a fast-paced environment, working in the ICU may be for you. Although new graduates may be trained for the ICU, it’s helpful to have at least a year of experience before moving into this specialty.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are a popular specialty for people who want to become involved in advanced practice. Nurse practitioners care for patients throughout the lifespan and have many of the same responsibilities as a family practice doctor. Some nurse practitioners choose to specialize in an area, such as cardiology, gynecology or pediatrics. After becoming a licensed RN and earning a bachelor’s degree, nurses must complete a nurse practitioner program.

NICU Nurse

Nurses in the neonatal intensive care until care for the tiniest and youngest of patients. Babies who are born prematurely or babies who have a condition at birth that requires specialized medical care stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Additional training is often needed after graduating from nursing school to work as a NICU nurse.

Medical Surgery

Medical-surgery nursing is the most popular nursing specialty. Nurses who work in medical surgery often care for a wide variety of patients with conditions, such as pneumonia, asthma, and patients who are recovering post-op. New grads are often hired to work in medical surgery nursing since it provides a great foundation to move into other specialties.

Oncology Nurse

Oncology nurses care for patients who have cancer. They administer chemotherapy, help manage side effects and educate patients on their condition. After earning a registered nursing degree and becoming licensed, nurses interested in oncology should work towards obtaining certification in oncology nursing through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.

As healthcare continues to change, the nursing profession is evolving to keep up with the needs of healthcare facilities and patients. Additional nursing specialties continue to grow, such as informatics and geriatrics.

If you pursue a pre-nursing internship, take advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as you can about different specialties. A pre-nursing internship can provide invaluable experience and exposure to the nursing field. Ask questions, keep your eyes open and enjoy the experience!


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and physician assistants – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.

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