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16 Different Types of Nurses

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Health Saf

While it’s easy to assume registered nurses can work across any job or ward, there are actually a huge number of specialisms and medical settings to work in. Different types of nurses work with different patients treating specific ailments. Some will specialize in particular types of patients, others in certain bodily areas.

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, there is a world of options available to you. To help you understand a little bit more about how to specialize, we’re sharing 16 different types of nursing roles that might be of interest to you.

Nurse Anesthetists

These nurses work both on the ward and in surgery. They can even work within a dental surgery if they prefer a smaller workplace. Nurse anesthetists are qualified to administer anesthesia to stop patients from feeling pain during surgery or treatment.

Critical care Nurses

Those interested in working with the most vulnerable patients can work as critical care nurses, usually within the intensive care unit. Nurses in this ward will be responsible for providing care in emergencies with a level of urgency – otherwise, the consequences could be fatal.

Forensic Nursing

Nurses interested in forensics can be used to collect evidence from patients who have been involved in violent crimes. These nurses tend to work within the emergency department and pass information onto the police. Others may have the opportunity to work within prisons.


Of course, midwifery is a popular choice when people look to study nursing. Midwives make a difference in the lives of new families every day, as well as supporting expecting mothers throughout every step of their pregnancy. They help to keep the mother calm and comfortable during labor.

Nurse Executives

After a few years in the field, nurses can choose to take nursing leadership courses in order to land a role as a nurse executive. Executives work as a voice for the nursing workforce – both on a small and global scale. You’ll be responsible for managing the overall morale of the department while also analyzing patient care, budgeting, and staff shortages.

Nurses in the Military

Anyone with a keen interest in going into the military can serve as a nurse. Military nurses work with and treat patients injured during war. They’ll provide emergency services for soldiers and citizens in critical conditions or work with doctors to treat non-life-threatening wounds.

Nurse Practitioners

Practitioners have more autonomy than registered nurses, with some going on to have their own practices. These nurses have the qualifications to be able to diagnose patients and prescribe medication without being overseen by a GP. Nurses will need a master’s degree, but it is a great alternative to studying for years in medical school to become a doctor.


People who have been impacted by cancer – either themselves or through a loved one – often look to work in oncology. These nurses provide comfort to patients while overseeing treatments such as chemotherapy. They also play an integral role in supporting patients who have been given a terminal diagnosis.

Ambulatory Care

Nurses in ambulatory care manage and treat a variety of ailments rather than choose to specialize in one area of the body. They’ll work with surgeons, doctors, and paramedics to care for patients who are in hospital for less than 24 hours.

Cardiac Care

Cardiac care is all about helping patients with heart conditions. Everything from small chest pain to severe heart attacks comes under the work of a cardiac care nurse. These nurses will work with a variety of staff to ensure patients are carefully monitored and regulated.

Case Management

If you’re more into the academic side of the healthcare sector, case management could be an option for you. These nurses will take a different path in their studies and work to research treatment processes to improve efficiency. Case management nurses work in labs or in the hospital setting and work closely with different groups of patients to assess different conditions and potential treatment methods.

Geriatric Nurse

Geriatric nurses may work in care homes, hospitals, or even on a 1 to 1 basis with elderly patients at home. Senior health is an increasingly prevalent issue in the US thanks to the aging population, and the work can be incredibly taxing. Elderly people are more prone to getting ill or injured, meaning nurses have to both treat the current issues as well as put systems in place to protect them in the future. Geriatric nurses may also be required to meet other basic needs like bathing, cooking, and shopping.

Holistic Nurse

Holistic therapy is a fairly new option for nurses. It is now being taught on a number of degree and postgraduate courses and focuses on treating the ‘person as a whole rather than simply focusing on the initial illness or treatment. The holistic approach teaches nurses to encourage connection between the patient’s physical, emotional, and mental being as well as factoring in the environment and relationships.

It’s a great time to get into holistic nursing, as there are so many new techniques and learnings emerging.

Legal Nursing

Nurses in the legal fieldwork with solicitors and attorneys to determine whether a person is physically and mentally fit enough to stand trial. They also work with injury lawyers on cases that require a medical professional to confirm injury or medical negligence.


Those interested in the nervous system can opt to specialize in neuroscience. Nurses in this field treat patients suffering from ailments and dysfunction within the nervous system. These conditions may include epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, Parkinson’s disease, MS, and Alzheimer’s. Those who specialize in neuroscience nursing could previously have worked in geriatrics or use their experiences with Alzheimer’s to move into geriatric nursing later.

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Psychiatric Nurse

Mental health is another popular field for nurses to get involved in. With this type of nursing, you’ll be dealing with patients with both mild and severe mental health conditions. Everything from depression to schizophrenia will be within your remit. Psychiatric nurses work in hospitals to determine the mental wellbeing of patients or to cope with patients relapsing. There’s also the option to work in mental institutions and specialist clinics.

These are just 16 of hundreds of specialisms a nurse can choose. Each will have its own career path, so make sure to check which qualifications and training you’ll need first.


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