Modern nursing has roots in the awful conditions of the Napoleonic wars and the unpleasant housing conditions of the early industrial age. Since the very foundation of nursing, the field has been broadening and evolving. Nursing now touches every corner of society with a benevolent hand. Nurses have taken on clinical, social and mental health roles. The specialization of nurses has happened gradually as more and more responsibility has been given to them. Modern nurses are expected to receive specialist training and possess a great deal of practical and theoretical knowledge in their specific field. Here are some of the essential specializations that nursing in the United States has split into. If you are considering training as a nurse, have a think about which area you would like to focus on in your career.
As you might expect, cardiac nurses are specialists in dealing with cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. One in four people die of an illness related to their heart or vascular system according to the Centre for Disease Control. Cardiac nurses are trained specifically to care for patients who are either suffering from or are at high risk of suffering from heart disease or failure. They are trained to respond to cardiac arrest with defibrillators, to calculate blood thinning medication doses and to communicate cardiovascular health advice to patients.
Intensive and Critical Care Nursing
Intensive and critical care nurses work in a hospital’s ICU ward. They care for patients during times of extreme trauma and great danger. Nurses working in this field perform both clinical and holistic tasks. This high pressure work is not for the faint hearted. These nurses are quite literally saving lives. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses looks after the interests of this cadre of lifesavers and offers webinars and advocacy to registered members.
Intensive and critical care nursing can be extremely demanding. As nurses take on new roles within hospitals that are increasingly clinical, nursing education has had to become more stringent. Most registered nurses in the United States are required to have bachelor’s degrees. Full length bachelor’s degrees in nursing are extremely popular. It is also possible to take an accelerated course if you already have a degree and want to switch careers. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees can be completed online in a single year and are a perfect way of bridging the gap between work as a pharmacist or non-clinical medical staff member and work as a critical care nurse. Click here to check out online Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degrees.
The United States is an ageing society. According to data collected by the Urban Institute, the number of Americans aged 65 or older will double in the next 40 years. Caring for the elderly is absolutely essential work and it must become a more socially and politically visible act. Geriatric nurses are key members of the elder care community. As the population ages, the number of geriatric nurses must rise. The aging process affects everyone differently, and geriatric nurses must therefore be trained in numerous fields. As people grow older, physical and mental deterioration can be triggered by small accidents or barely perceivable strokes. Geriatric nurses are crucial for making sure patients’ families can spot signs of a watershed moment.
Children have the same basic needs as adults: homeostatic stability, nourishment, water, oxygen. They do, however, need specialist care and appropriate communicative treatment. Pediatric nurses train specifically to look after young people. This work does not only involve the specialist carte of children. It also includes the communication and collaboration with family members, and the ability to spot abuse or neglect from guardians.
Pediatric nurses are expected to become experts at communicating with stressed out parents and frightened kids. The pediatric nursing workforce in the USA is growing. This is partly because of the recognition by healthcare providers that specialization in nursing provides better results than the hiring of a generalized workforce.
Forensic nurses bridge the gap between the legal and medical professions. These specialist nurses provide care for people who have been the victims of violence, exploitation and other criminal activities that lead to health problems. As well as providing medical care, they also give expert testimony during court cases. Forensic nurses receive legal training alongside clinical care training. This means that they are in a great position to safeguard patients from illegal exploitation. Through their care of a victim, they collect important forensic evidence that can be presented in court. This short film released by the International Association of Forensic Nurses documents just how varied the field is: dealing with the myriad legal and medical needs of victims.
Public Health Nursing
Public health practice has come back into the limelight over the last year because of the global COVID-19 pandemic and its widespread public health implications. Public health nursing was first introduced to the United States in the 1890s, when poor inner city New Yorkers were living in terrible conditions. Diseases like polio and cholera proliferated among people living in tight quarters. Nurse Lillian Wald coined the term ‘public health nursing’ in order to emphasize the need for a cadre of nurses to treat the causes of public health disasters, not just the victims.
Public health nurses are educators and community advocates. They give people vaccines and advise local government on the implications of housing quality, sanitation and public interaction on the population’s health and wellbeing. Senior public health nurses work in collaboration with the Centre for Disease Control advising the government on, amongst other things, ways in which the state can respond to pandemics. According to the American Academy of Nursing, many more public health nurses are going to be required in the United States in the coming years. In an article published in Nursing Outlook magazine, representatives of the Academy stressed the essentiality of public health nurses to any future where population health is valued and nurtured as a whole.