Registered nurses looking to specialise within the field of nursing have numerous career options. Training programs are available that offer further education in nursing administration and public policy-making, nursing education and research, advanced practice nursing specialities, and nursing informatics. Specialist nurse training is offered by both on-campus graduate programs and online education providers.
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One specialist option for nurses is training to work in health care administration. Several graduate degree programs for aspiring nurse administrators are offered by universities and online education providers. For example, the University of Maryland offers a master of science degree in nursing (MSN) with an executive practice focus, as well as joint MSN/master of business administration, MSN/doctor of jurisprudence, and MSN/master of public health degree programs.
Educators and Scholars
Other nurses may choose to specialise in nursing education or research. To work as a nursing instructor, you typically need to have at least a master's degree in nursing. Several universities, such as Rutgers College of Nursing and South University, offer MSN degrees with a nurse educator specialisation. Doctorate-level degree programs and postdoctoral fellowships are also available for nurses who pursue careers in nursing scholarship or research. For example, the University of Pennsylvania currently offers several postdoctoral fellowships for nurse scientists studying subjects such as nursing outcomes and individualised care for at-risk older adults.
Clinical Nurse Specialists
Clinical nurse specialists are advanced practice nurses who have trained to become nursing experts in one particular area of nursing care. They work with physicians to diagnose and create treatment strategies for patients. Clinical nurse specialists can focus their training on a particular disease type, such as oncology or infectious diseases, or on a specific population group, such the paediatric and adult health clinical nurse specialist degree programs offered by the University of Delaware.
The field of nursing informatics has become an integral part of nursing practice in the past several decades, as computer and information technology (IT) has taken a larger role in health care. Nurse informaticists are nurses with IT training who ensure the successful integration of new computer-based technologies into nurses'work flow. Nurse informaticists provide training and technical support to nurses when a new system, such as electronic patient records, is implemented. Master's degrees in nursing are offered by traditional brick-and-mortar universities as well as by accredited education providers that focus on online/distance learning, such as University of Phoenix.
Nurses looking to become advanced practice nurses can specialise in several nurse practitioner programs, such as family health, gerontology, paediatrics, women's health and acute care, as well as train to be nurse-midwives or certified registered nurse anaesthetists. Currently nurse practitioners must have at least a master's degree in advanced practice. Nurse practitioners are trained to perform many tasks previously only administered by physicians, such as prescribing medications, diagnosing common illnesses, managing patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, and ordering and evaluating laboratory tests.
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