5 Different Types of Nursing Careers

Working as a nurse is an incredibly demanding, yet rewarding, career choice. You will be helping a huge range of people every day, providing medical and emotional support to patients, their families and their loved ones. If you are passionate about helping others and advocating for them, then becoming a nurse could be your ideal career path. When deciding to become a nurse, you will need to choose the pathway you would like to follow, and the type of nursing you would like to provide. There are many different types and levels of qualifications, and plenty of room for career advancement. Here are just five different types of nursing careers that you may consider.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners are specialists in certain areas of nursing, and the title of nurse practitioner, or NP, is combined with other specialisms, and a Master’s degree in the specific area in usually required to work in these roles. In general, a nurse practitioner is a mid-level practitioner, and their main focus is on the promotion of wellness via patient health education. Nurse practitioners are non-physician clinicians, which means they take on many of the diagnostic and clinical functions of a medical doctor, but are not trained physicians. A defining characteristic of an NP is that in some states, they can work independently, without the supervision of a physician.

  • Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners work with families and patients across all genders, age ranges, diseases and body systems. In order to become a family nurse practitioner, you will need an MSN, or a Master’s of Science in Nursing, which will help prepare you to work in this role. FNPs understand the importance of healthcare that is centered around the family, and as an FNP your responsibilities can include performing assessments, maintaining and promoting health, educating patients, creating care plans, prescribing medication and acting as the primary care provider. You will work in a range of settings, such as hospitals, telemedicine, clinics and community centers, as well as providing healthcare services in areas where waitlists have historically been long, such as rural areas.  

  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

If you enjoy working with children and young people, then becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner could be your perfect role. As a PNP, you will focus on treating patients from birth to young adults, again recognizing the importance of family-centered healthcare. Your responsibilities may include performing physical examinations, treating different illnesses and injuries, educating adults and caregivers in regard to the health of the child, maintaining patient health, prescribing medication, interpreting lab and diagnostic results, developmental check-ups, acting as a liaison between patients, families and doctors and providing emotional advice and support to patients and their loved ones.

  • Adult-Gerontology, Primary Care, Nurse Practitioner

The study of old age and aging is known as gerontology, and when it comes to being an NP in this area, there are two different types. All AGNPs focus on the healthcare of patients from the young adult stage and upwards, but you could choose to specialize in primary care or acute care. If you want to work in the former role, you will be working with patients who are not usually ill, focusing on maintaining the patient’s health via promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. In this role your responsibilities may also include educating patients and caregivers, assessing the competence of caregivers managing transitions between care settings.

AGNPs who work in acute care provide care to patients with chronic complex illnesses, critical illnesses or who are unstable or dependent on technology. The care is episodic and is provided in more urgent or emergency circumstances, whereas primary care AGNPs develop long-term relationships with their patients.

  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

PMHNPs provide a wide range of mental health services to many different people, in a variety of settings such as, outpatient clinics, private practices, schools, prisons, substance abuse programs or trauma centers. If you want to become a PMHNP you can also choose to generalize, or specialize in certain areas. These could include geriatrics, forensics or psychotherapy. Your responsibilities can include prescribing medications, conducting therapy, assessing and diagnosing patients, providing emergency psychiatric services, educating staff and families, serving as consultants and managing patient care. 


As well as working in clinical roles, there is also the option to work in leadership roles within the nursing industry. These are great careers for those who want to educate the next generation of nurses, or influence the future of the nursing industry. Many leadership roles require education at Master’s level and above, and also combine clinical work with managerial, educational and leadership responsibilities, to ensure that you are always at the forefront of any developments in the industry. 

  • Nurse Executive

This role combines leadership, business and nursing skills and involves managing a team, creating policies, dealing with finances and representing the healthcare organization that you work for at conferences or on committees. You could hire and train new recruits, help with mentorship, schedule shifts and design strategies that promote professional development.

There are plenty of different roles in the nursing industry, so you will be able to find your ideal career. Many roles require specific qualifications or training, and therefore it is important to do your research when considering the type of nursing career that you want, so that you can be prepared and plan ahead. There are also different types of certification and licensure required for various roles, and these can also change depending on your location, so it is also important to think about the location in which you would like to practice. 

When studying to become a nurse, there are various paths that you can take, and these will depend on a variety of factors, such as the type of nurse you want to become. There are some general skills and qualities that nurses benefit from, such as empathy, stamina and a willingness to continually learn, and you will have the chance to develop these skills and more throughout your training. 

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