Alternative Specializations in the Field of Nursing

By: Anderson Ryan


Not only are nurses in great demand, but the opportunities in the field of nursing are practically limitless. Nurses today have a wide array of specializations and career paths to choose from, some traditional and others are new and/or emerging. As the meaning and concept of healthcare and treatment evolves so will the definition of nursing. We will take a look at a few of the alternative specializations within the field of nursing.

Holistic Nursing is one of the youngest specializations in the field of nursing. And what it means to be a holistic nurse is constantly changing. Yet, the most functional of all definitions is to incorporate traditional nursing skills and knowledge with methodologies, techniques, and ideologies to heal, the mind, body, and spirit. Although the majority of holistic nurses work with terminally ill, severe burn and long term rehabilitation patients, the demand for holistic nurses is growing. Holistic nursing requires the same initial qualifications as a traditional nurse, but also requires additional certifications, which usually revolve around the psychological aspects of severe injuries, illnesses, and depression.

While holistic nursing is among the youngest alternative specialization in the field of nursing, forensic nursing is probably among the most popular. Though there are a number of concentrations within the specialization of forensic nursing, the basic definition would be to use nursing knowledge and skills to provide care to victims of crimes while collecting evidence. Thanks to a number of popular televisions shows such as CSI, forensic nursing has become more visible. It is not uncommon for a forensic nurse to take a few seminars or training on the practices and procedures of handling evidence. However, most have no other certification than the RN license. Forensic nurses can be found in a variety of places, from hospitals to law firms.

Infection control nursing is also considered a deviation from more traditional nursing specialties. Infection nurses work to identify, investigate, and control infections that occur within a specific community, hospital, or particular area. Most commonly, infection nurses work with STDs, HIV, TB, and childhood infections. Infection control nurses are usually found in hospital settings, or as consultants to governmental agencies, municipalities, or large pharmaceutical companies. Aside from the RN license, infection control nurses are required to have an additional infection control certification.

There are several types of case management nursing specialties. Case management nurses coordinate all aspects of treatment for specific types of patients. Case management nurses often work with rehab patients, long term care patients, and patients with serious work injuries. Also, nurse case managers act as a liaison between the patient and a third party, such as an insurance company or employer. Case management nurses can be found at a variety of places, some of which include schools, insurance companies, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Nurse case management is also a specialty that can easily become its own private business. There are additional certifications for case management nurses, but these added credentials will depend heavily on the type of case management that you choose.

Although international and trans-cultural nursing are two different nursing specialties, their training will be similar. International nurses are those who decide to practice nursing in a different country than their own. Most of these nurses choose to work in underdeveloped nations with dire medical needs. Trans-cultural nurses are those who choose to work with individuals from various cultures and with alternative beliefs to medicine and treatments. Though there are no specific certifications other than a RN license, many of these nurses choose to seek additional training in cultural sensitivity and beliefs, and also learn to speak a number of different languages.

Another new and expanding specialization in the field of nursing is dermatology nursing. Dermatology nurses care for and provide information to those that are suffering from infections, serious wounds, and diseases of the skin. There is an advanced certification for dermatology nurses, many of which can be found at hospitals and dermatology clinics.

Genetics nursing is another young specialty. Genetic nurses provide care for patients with genetic diseases. These nurses are involved in various levels of genetic treatment, from explaining treatment and conditions to patients, to risk identification, and screening. Genetic nurses are also involved in genetic counseling and clinical trials. There are different levels of credentialing for genetic nurses. All genetic nurses start with the RN license, they are then required to obtain either a Bachelors or Masters Degree in nursing, at least 3 years of experience as a genetic nurse, a number of documented case histories, and letters of recommendation.

It is important to note that these are just a few of the alternative specializations in nursing. Also, similar to more traditional nursing specialties, many of these have their own associations. The nursing industry is growing and it is a career path that is expected to continue growing and changing in the years to come.

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Ryan Anderson is a freelance writer who writes about the nursing profession, often writing about specific items used in nursing such as nursing scrubs.

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