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3/11/2020 » 3/12/2020
Dare to Lead

Nursing Roles
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For some non-traditional nursing models, check these out. 

Look Before You Leap: 75 Nursing Roles

(click here for a printable version of this document in Microsoft Word)

Whether you are just beginning to considering a career in nursing, or you are a long-time nurse ready for a career change, this resource is a helpful starting point in your quest to find the perfect job that matches your interests and background.

Title Description More Info
A nursing specialty emphasizing the treatment of substance abuses, Addiction Nurses work with chronic substance about problems including Anabolic Steroids, Cocaine, etc.
AIDS/HIV Nurses provide education, as well as therapeutic and supportive interventions, for those affected by HIV/AIDS. This includes confronting the physical and social consequences of the disease, while also helping the patient achieve minimal pain and maximum independence. HIV/AIDS nurses also provide education on preventing the spread of this disease.
Ambulatory Care Nurses treat patients of all ages with acute or chronic illnesses or injury on an episodic, outpatient basis. Treatment includes screening, triage, patient education, pain management, case management, discharge planning and other interventions to restore, maintain or promote patients' physical health.
Arthritis Nurses provide counseling and support to patients suffering from this chronic degenerative disease. Responsibilities include helping to relax pain and stiffness, providing access to physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and providing patient education. Arthritis Nurses incorporate some of the technical and patient management skills of the doctor, and are thus essential to the smooth operation of many rheumatology departments.
Highly skilled health care professionals, Camp Nurses handle many of the unique, every-day, medical challenges associated with life at camp. Often isolated from immediate collaboration, Camp Nurses are generalists in the field, able to effectively treat a wide variety of problems, while promoting general well being within the camp community.
Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurses work with adults with cardiovascular disease or those who are at risk. Nurses in this specialty promote cardiac wellness by helping patients alter their lifestyles (such as decreasing stress; eating low-fat, low-cholesterol meals; exercising; smoking cessation) to lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease and its complications, and to minimize the lasting effects of past cardiac incidents.
The primary role of a Case Management Nurse is to coordinate the continuity of care and to ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment at the proper time to maximize health and minimize hospitalization. Job duties include assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation and interaction, often working with patients of all ages and diagnoses.
Nurse Midwives work to improve the health of mothers, babies and their families. A Nurse Midwife receives specialized training regarding the delivery of babies, and providing prenatal and postpartum care to women. Midwives provide access to comprehensive, holistic nurse-midwifery care, while advocating women’s rights to self-determination, and respect for individualized community-based care.
A Clinical Nurse Specialist provides advanced clinical nursing care to patients within a specific clinical field (such as Gerontology, Med-Surg, Pediatrics, Mental Health, Community Health or Home Health). Clinical Nurse Specialists conduct clinical studies to instruct and educate staff and patients regarding clinical issues. Requires a master's degree, and is a registered nurse with 2-4 years of clinical experience.
Community Health Nurses work in schools, community centers, primary care clinics, correctional facilities, and public health agencies at local, state and national levels focusing upon a specific public health setting or a specific population group. Nurses often achieve leadership positions in population-based care, develop population based research or provide community health education. Although treatment provided by community/public health nurses may be to individual patients, families or groups, the focus is on the population as a whole. Interaction may include epidemiology, environmental health, wellness and health promotion, evaluation of population-focused programs, or health maintenance.
Correctional Nurses work in correctional institutions, where the facility’s fundamental mission is first and foremost public safety and security. Therefore, nurses must provide a wide range of professional care within the boundaries of a secured environment.
Critical Care Nurses provide care for acutely and critically ill patients of all ages and diagnoses. Care involves complex assessment and high intensity interventions, often involving sophisticated technology. Critical Care Nurses also attend to the psychosocial and emotional needs of patients, their families and significant others.
Dermatology Nurses work closely with dermatology practitioners in devising treatment plans for patients seeking medical treatment for skin care issues. Dermatology Nurses consult, treat and follow-up with patient base and play an extremely integral role in their care.
Developmental Disabilities Nurses develop special knowledge and clinical skills to deal with the profound impact of how disabilities affect individuals, their families, and community. The practice of developmental disabilities nursing is characterized by those aspects of nursing care that focus on maintenance of health, development of skills, communication, socialization and participation in community life.
Diabetes Education Nurses work with patients who already have the disease, as well as with those who are at risk for developing it. Their goal is to educate patients regarding how to monitor their lifestyles (including nutrition, exercise and blood sugar monitoring) in order to lessen the need for medication and hospitalization, as well as to promote health and well-being.
Doctoral Nurses [Doctor of Nursing (ND), Doctoral Nurse Practitioner (DNP), Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc), Ph.D. in Nursing] are experts that assume leadership positions in research, education, clinical care delivery, systems management and advance the theoretical foundation of nursing practice.
Emergency Nurses work in diverse, challenging, dynamic and fast-paced work settings. They work independently and interdependently with a multitude of health professionals in a time-limited, ever changing environment. Emergency Nurses assess patients, provide interventions and evaluate care as they experience illness, injury or crisis.
A Flight Nurse works with emergency and non-emergency air/surface transport of sick and injured patients. This includes interfacility transport as well as emergency "scene calls" for trauma and other medical emergencies. A Flight Nurse must be able to work with a high-level of acuity and with a diverse patient population, employed by a variety of trauma centers.
Forensic Nurses work with law enforcement officials as well as perpetrators and victims of crime. The specialty includes death investigators, correctional nurses, nurse attorneys, domestic violence specialists, human rights advocates and sexual assault nurse examiners. Duties may include collection of clinical evidence, determination of origin or circumstances of trauma, evaluation and alleviation of crime victims’ injuries and rehabilitation of criminals.
Requiring both cognitive and technical skills, Gastroenterology (GI) Nurses assist with procedures, perform endoscopic procedures and screen for cancer. Trained in the techniques of flexible endoscopy, they may even perform medical procedures for the purpose of colorectal cancer screening.
Genetics Nurses provide comprehensive, risk-appropriate and coordinated care to chronically ill patients with underlying genetic abnormalities such as cancer or cystic fibrosis. Genetic Nurses often provide counseling to prospective parents who are at risk for having an infant with a genetic disorder, as well as to healthy adults who have recently learned of their risks for disease. Genetics Nurses provide information about genetic testing, and reduce the risk of disease through appropriate monitoring and interventions.
Gerontological Nurses care for the physical and psychosocial needs of older adults. They focus on maximizing their patients’ functional abilities, as well as promoting, maintaining and restoring physical and mental health. Gerontological Nurses work in hospitals, community health centers, senior centers, long-term care facilities and sometimes in their patients’ homes.
A Holistic Nurse is involved in all areas of wellness and holistic healing by providing treatment to the whole person, rather than just the ailment or disease. Roles for the Holistic Nurse include massage therapist, acupuncturist, educator, trainer and general holistic nurse. Committed to the holistic philosophy, a Holistic Nurse focuses upon wellness, healing and preventive medicine from a spiritual and more natural perspective, and must be open to treatments outside of conventional medicine.
Home Health Nurses provide a broad range of high-quality home care services to the community. Care may range from minimal assistance with personal care to highly technical and specialized nursing support. All services are customized to patient’s unique and changing needs.
Hyperbaric Nurses, also called Baromedic Nurses, attend patients receiving hyperbaric oxygen or compression therapy in hyperbaric chambers. Hyperbaric Nurses collect and analyze patient data, make recommendations for nursing care plans and establish interpersonal relationships with patients.
Infection Control Nurses prevent and track the spread of infections by developing and maintaining strict procedures to prevent infectious outbreaks, and by investigating how infections originated and spread. Duties vary greatly, ranging from implementing immunization programs to developing bioterrorist response protocols.
Informatics Nurses (also called “Nurse Informaticists”) draw upon their past experiences in the health care industry to address information management issues, and to increase productivity in the workforce. Therefore, nursing informatics is a broad ranging field that combines nursing skills with computer expertise. Jobs in this area might include programming software for use by nurses, or identifying nursing computer system needs, or assistance in the training and implementation of those systems within a health care setting.
Infusion Nurses, sometimes also called Intravenous (IV) nurses, provide a variety of therapies, including intravenous nutrition, antibiotic administration, cardiac medications, hydration chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis and pain management. The specialty requires knowledge of pharmacology, infection control and the medical technology necessary to administer IVs, as well as standard nursing practice to attend to the physical and psychosocial needs of patients.
Labor & Delivery Nurses care for the physical and psychosocial needs of women before, during and after giving birth. Duties may include teaching natural childbirth techniques, monitoring pregnancies, providing physical and emotional support during labor and delivery, and promoting healthy mother-child bonding after birth.
Legal Nurse Consultants use their nursing expertise to help attorneys, clients, investigators, juries and judges understand and interpret medical issues and documents. The role of the legal nurse consultant may include testifying on standards of care in depositions, interrogatories or trials; organizing medical records; or acting as a liaison with other medical personnel.
Long Term Care Nurses focus on the continued care given to elderly patients, stroke victims, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain or patients needing extensive care over an extended period of time. Common procedures include enteral Tube Feedings: PEG, nasogastric tubes and patient aspiration.
LPN/LVN Nurses are an integral asset to the healthcare team. Often, LPN act as a second pair of eyes for the RN. With additional training and education a LPN can administer some IV drugs, hang and monitor blood, or do a phlebotomy. Working together with a team RN leader, LPNs compose a fundamental care-giving unit of the healthcare industry.
Managed Care Nurses perform administrative nursing work, coordinating the delivery of managed health care services and reviewing and evaluating the quality and level of services provided. Nurses in this specialty function as liaisons to health maintenance organization representatives and health care providers to ensure the effective delivery of managed health care services.
Beyond providing care for surgical patients in a hospital, Medical/Surgical Nursing encompasses care for adults with acute health conditions, whether in outpatient facilities, hospitals or long-term care facilities. Elements of care may include patient education, pain management, case management, discharge planning and other interventions to restore or maintain patients' physical and psychosocial health.
A Military Nurse performs all duties of a traditional nurse in both war and peacetime settings through service in a military branch. A Military Nurse may be classified as active duty, reserve or as a civilian employee. A Military Nurse is usually given a wider range of responsibility than can typically be expected in civilian environments. A Military Nurse ideally has critical care, OR and trauma experience.
Neonatal Nurses work with newborn infants. Skilled and knowledgeable regarding the nursing assessment procedure, Neonatal Nurses are able to anticipate illness in infant patients. Neonatal Nurses work to prevent illnesses from occurring, and, at the very least, minimize their effects.
Nephrology Nurses, sometimes also called “Dialysis Nurses” or “Renal Nurses”, utilize nursing process skills to care for patients of all ages who are experiencing, or are at risk for, kidney disease. Nephrology Nurses work with renal patients in areas that include conservative management, peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, continuous renal replacement therapies and renal and extrarenal transplantation.
Neuroscience Nurses work across the health care continuum to help patients of all ages cope with the physical and psychosocial response to neurological impairments, including spinal cord injuries, head injuries, movement disorders, CVAs and other neurological diseases and disorders. Their goal is to maximize function and independence, while minimizing pain and discomfort.
Nurse Administrators hold administrative roles within acute, ambulatory care and/or community based settings. Nurse Administrators are skilled in areas of finance, project management, leadership, quality improvement, risk management, management for quality clinical and organizational outcomes, education and research.
Certified Nurse Anesthetists provide anesthesia to patients during surgical or obstetrical procedures, providing preoperative and postoperative care as well. In addition to minimizing pain, nurse anesthetists explain procedures and options to their patients and monitor their vital signs, response and recovery from anesthesia.
Nurse Educators plan, govern, coordinate and evaluate in-service orientation and continuing education programs for nursing personnel in healthcare organizations. They create training schedules and conduct training programs for staff development, and offer instruction in improved methods of nursing service and procedures.
Nurse Entrepreneurs combine their nursing background with business savvy, creativity and ingenuity to start their own businesses. In turn, these companies may provide patient care, equipment, consulting, education or other services related to nursing.
A Nurse Massage Therapist is a licensed nurse who has completed at least 500 ours of post-graduate education and training in massage therapy and bodywork. Nurse Massage Therapists retain a specialized body of knowledge and skill that encompasses an analytical an intuitive blend of nursing and therapeutic massage.
A Nurse Practitioner assesses, plans and provides comprehensive patient care independently or in autonomous collaboration with other health professionals. Educated and trained at university graduate level, Nurse Practitioners are nationally Board Certified in specialty areas such as Acute Care, Family Care, Gerontology, Pediatrics or Mental Health.
A Nurse Recruiter contacts, interviews and places nurses in jobs at a healthcare facilities. This position involves selling placement services to nurses and requires exceptional customer service and attention to detail, but also a well-versed knowledge of the nursing profession. Often, Nurse Recruiters have a nursing background, but were drawn to recruiting because of an excellent phone voice and affect, positive and enthusiastic attitudes, and the ability to develop and maintain "instant rapport" with candidates.
Nursing Executives provide leadership and direction in designing and managing care, planning and developing policies and procedures, and allocating resources within hospital settings. Through their administrative decisions, they seek to improve patient outcomes and bring about positive staff development.
Staff Development Nurses help other nurses meet their continuing education needs. By providing educational opportunities outside of the academic environment, they develop, enhance and promote improved patient care, professional development, lifelong learning and attainment of career goals among the nurses they serve.
OB/GYN Nurses provide diagnostic, medical and surgical services for adult and pediatric gynecological and obstetrical problems. Services provided include general and high-risk obstetrics; removal of lesions; pregnancy termination; infertility evaluation and treatment, donor insemination; family planning services; gynecologic endocrinology; cancer detection and treatment; sterilization reversal; general inpatient and outpatient gynecologic diagnosis and treatment, and nurse midwifery services.
Occupational Health Nurses promote, maintain, and restore workers’ health and safety within their place of business. In addition, they deal with productivity, disability/accessibility, ergonomic, and workers’ compensation issues. In some settings, they may provide emergency care as well.
Office Nurses typically work in a private practice or clinic, and utilize their skills to provide patient assessment, comprehensive direct nursing care, patient education and telephone triage.
Oncology Nurses provide care for adults with or at risk for cancer. They have expert clinical skills for the assessment and management of patients with/at risk for cancer; to provide education for patients, families and nursing staff; and to provide consultation in cancer-related problems.
OR Nurses, also called PeriOperative Nurses, care for the patient before, during and after surgical procedures. The OR Nurse performs a number of duties, including patient assessment, creating a sterile environment, monitoring patients' mental and physical status, coordination of care and provision of medical resources.
Often working in out-patient eye and vision treatment clinics, Ophthalmic Nurses take detailed medical histories of their patients; perform clinical tasks, advise patients regarding proper medication procedures and explain any post-surgical instructions.
Orthopaedic Nurses care for musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis, diabetes, bone fractures, joint replacements, sports injuries and multiple bone traumas.
Pain Management Nurses counsel patients dealing with chronic pain with education, support-groups, and strategies towards effective pain management.
Palliative or Hospice Nurses provide compassionate care to individuals with advanced or chronic, potential life limiting disease. These nurses aid their patients, and their patients’ family members, through physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of care, starting at diagnosis through treatment and hopefully to cure. If a cure is not possible, palliative care continues through the dying process and then helps families through bereavement. These nurses also provide supportive care for parents of infants with serious or fatal birth defects, both before and after birth.
The Parish Nurse, in collaboration with the pastoral staff and congregants, participates in the ongoing transformation of the faith community into a source of health and healing. Through partnership with other community health resources, parish nursing fosters new and creative responses to health and wellness concerns.
Pediatric Nurses provide care to children and adolescents. The Pediatric Nurse focuses on the mental and physical aspect of health and illness. Health promotion, disease prevention and helping with management of physical and mental disabilities are just some of the duties of the Pediatric Nurse.
Pediatric Oncology Nurses provide care for children and adolescents with cancer, as well as their families.
Perinatal Nurses care for the physical and psychosocial needs of women before, during and after giving birth.
Perinatal Nurses care for the physical and psychosocial needs of women before, during and after giving birth. Perinatal Nurses work in partnership with families supporting, advocating and educating for health promotion. Working with women and their newborns requires good teaching and support skills, aiming to promote a healthy mother-child bond after birth.
Plastic Surgical Nurses initiate assessment of patients seeking plastic surgery to determine data about health history and status, which is documented, retrievable, and communicated. The plastic surgical nurse analyzes assessed data and formulates nursing diagnoses and individual plans of care. The plastic surgical nurse designs and implements a plan of care based upon realistic, measurable outcomes. The plastic surgical nurse reviews and evaluates nursing intervention, and reassesses the plan of care to attain desired outcomes of individual patient goals.
Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurses promote and enhance the mental health of patients of all ages with acute or chronic psychiatric needs, such as chronic cognitive, addictive and affective dysfunctions. Intervention may include use of therapeutic interpersonal skills, case management, discharge planning or disaster response.
Radiology Nurses participate in a variety of diagnostic tests and interventional procedures associated with angiography, CT and ultrasound. Radiology nurses also conduct CT/MRI, fluoroscopy, nuclear medicine and PET scans.
Rehabilitation Nurses help individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses to make the most of their abilities and enjoy a quality life. Rehabilitation Nurses assist patients to cope, heal, learn and develop their ability to perform or direct their own care, in order to be as independent as possible.
Respiratory Nurses promote the pulmonary health of individuals. Respiratory Nurses are involved with preventive, critical, acute and rehabilitative respiratory challenges. Respiratory Nurses are skilled in patient assessment, familiarity of oxygen therapies, ventilation and suctioning, and knowledgeable of good respiratory practices, such as smoking cessation techniques.
Rural/Community Nurses provide health care services shaped by the unique context and settings in which they work, and factors such as low population densities and isolated geographical locations. Community Nurses are health generalists, possessing roles that incorporate general nursing, midwifery, child and family health nursing, domiciliary nursing, aged care, health education/promotion and nursing administration.
School Nurses work to advance the well being, academic success and life-long achievement of students. To that end, School Nurses facilitate positive student responses to normal development; promote health and safety; intervene with actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build student and family capacity for adaptation, self management, self advocacy and learning.
Post-operative surgery patients, or those whose general health requires constant supervision or specially-administered medications, are admitted to the telemetry unit, a step down from an intensive care unit. During their stay in these units, Telemetry Nurses closely monitor the patients’ vital signs and other health indicators to allow for immediate intervention if needed.
Telephone Triage Nurses, using protocols and independent judgment, provide patient education and advice via the phone to patients of all ages and diagnoses. They rank patients according to urgency of need, directing them to further care as necessary. The goal is to advise the patient on the proper level of care at the appropriate time to reduce unnecessary physician's appointments or trips to the emergency room.
Transcultural Nursing is an area of nursing study and practice focused upon the cultural care beliefs and values of people to help them maintain and/or regain their health, or to face death in meaningful ways. Transcultural Nursing focuses upon understanding cultures and their specific care needs and how to provide care that fits their life styles.
Transplant Nurse Coordinators provide initial screening and in-hospital preparation through the extended period of follow-up care. Coordinators also provide treatment, information and most importantly, close personal support to patients facing transplant procedures.
Trauma Nurses care for patients of all ages requiring emergency care. Using decisive assessment skills, quick intervention and often sophisticated technology, Trauma Nurses work to restore vital signs, to arrest further loss of function, or to prevent complications or death.
Urology Nurses handle medical issues such as general urology education/diagnosis, prostate disease, stone treatment, surgical treatment of impotence and incontinence, and the use of new technologies in urologic surgery. Urology Nurse Specialists also provide assistance with office-based procedures such as urethral dilation and TRUS biopsy, management of nephrostomy patients, bladder training and pelvic floor therapy, and education in use of incontinence appliances.
Women's Health Nurses specialize in the theories, principles and clinical skills in the care of women and their families. Women’s Health Nurses are skilled in critical thinking, diagnosis, problem-solving and nursing management of women throughout the maternity cycle, as well as those with common gynecological problems. Client education, communication and collaboration are emphasized in this profession.
Wound Care Nurses specialize in wound care and tissue viability issues, especially when concerning wounds that have not healed after months of standard wound treatment. Wound Care Nurses often address issues such as proper nutrition and blood flow to the wounded region.