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Nurse Specialties

Nursing is a broad and complex area of study. With a nursing degree, individuals have many options and career paths to follow. Becoming a Critical Care Nurse, Oncology Nurse and Pediatric Nurse are some of the areas that registered nurses may wish to specialize in.

A Critical Care Nurse (CCN) works in emergency rooms and in intensive care units (ICUs). CCNs handle patients who are in critical and life-threatening conditions. Many patients who are in critical conditions either undergo surgery or are supported by life support. CCNs monitor life support and handle wounds that resulted from surgeries. They extensively work with doctors and must have the life-saving skills to assist whenever a patient must be brought back to life. CCNs do not need to have any certification aside from their RN license. However, it is advisable that nurses who wish to specialize as CCNs take optional certifications. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) offers an exam that can certify nurses with two years of professional experience become a qualified Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN). The AACN also has a program for nurses who want to be qualified as Critical Care Nurse Specialist (CCNS). This program is slightly rigorous due to the fact that it requires coursework. Nurses who aspire to become CCRNs and CCNs will study and do coursework involving the cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological, renal, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and hematological systems.

Oncology nurses work with patients who are being treated for cancer. Oncology nurses may also perform radiation chemotherapies to cancer patients. There are many certification programs for oncology nurses. Oncology nurses will have to take classes that involve chemotherapy administration, drug classifications, and side effects of chemotherapy. There are two types of certification for oncology nurses: advanced and basic. The advanced certification offers nurses to specialize in becoming an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse (AOCN), Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP), and Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Specialist (AOCNS). The basic certification offers nurses to specialize in being an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) and Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse (CPON).

Pediatric nurses specialize in treating and handling patients who are children. They collect urine and stool samples, perform eye exams, record vital signs, perform CPR, and give medications. Since pediatrics mostly deal with children and parents, it is vital for a pediatric nurse to learn how to communicate with children and their families. It is advisable that Pediatric nurses take child psychology courses in order to communicate with children better. It would be better for a nurse to know the child’s cognitive levels and which equipment to use for children of different ages and sizes. They should also take family psychology courses to be able to handle parents who may feel tensed about their children’s condition. Nurses who are interested in specializing in pediatrics should take courses at the American Heart Association such as Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Pediatric nurses should also take a Certified Pediatric Nurse Exam after they receive an ample amount of training in their nursing job.