Emerging Practice Areas in Nursing

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By ANA Career Center staff - November 2014

The world of nursing is becoming more specialized, and some practice areas are seeing some major growth. If you’re interested in focusing on a specific practice area, you may need to get some additional education or training, but after you do, you could find the nursing job you’ve been looking for.

“Competition is fierce for the best jobs, so experience, good references and a varied résumé or CV demonstrating expertise in multiple areas are important,” says Nick Angelis, MSN, CRNA. “Those in niche markets have the upper hand.”
If you’re looking for a change or a new challenge, consider some of these emerging practice areas for nursing.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners

Psychiatric nurse practitioners who are well-trained in pediatric care and family dynamics will continue to be in need, Angelis says. Some of these jobs — such as at schools or in public health — depend heavily on state and municipal budgets, but the NP role is expanding.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job growth for nurse practitioners in general to be very high in the coming years, increasing by 30 percent as more people are insured, the population continues to age and health care leaders put more of an emphasis on preventive care. Hospitalist nurse practitioners and family medicine nurse practitioners also are seeing growth.

Nurse Anesthetists

Job opportunities continue to grow for nurse anesthetists, and it’s also one of the most lucrative nursing positions, Angelis says, “especially as pain management services continue to accelerate.” The BLS projects a 30 percent jump in these positions by 2022. However, Angelis says anesthetists may need to relocate, as the job market varies from region to region.

Labor and Delivery

As health care facilities strive to make their labor and delivery areas more baby friendly, there is an increasing demand for nurses who are certified lactation consultants, says Cindy Leclerc, RN, IBCLC. “Earning this designation is rigorous, requiring 90 hours of lactation-specific education, at least 300 hours of clinical experience as well as a written exam. Nurses who are also lactation consultants can be employed in hospitals, community settings and independent practice.”

Labor and delivery is a growing area, agrees Jeremy Enck, vice president of sales at Fortus Healthcare Resources. "We have seen more opportunities for surgery, labor and delivery, and dialysis positions for nurses and nurse managers.”

What Employers Want

If you’re interested in getting into one of these emerging areas, Enck says employers are seeking nurses with a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and that being bilingual can be a big help in certain areas. “Nurses who possess a solid education and marketable skills have unlimited growth potential into the foreseeable future.”

Angelis says the recent news about Ebola is a reminder that international travel is an option, too, depending on your skills. “As various health scares multiply across the globe, nurses who are willing to travel internationally will become a precious commodity,” he says.

If you’re looking for a new nursing job, check out the ANA Career Center to find a position that’s right for you.