5 Career Paths you Can go Down as a Registered Nurse


A career as a registered nurse is very fulfilling for an empathetic person. After the achievement of having completed your associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing and taken and passed the state licensure exam to practice in your state, you can start working in a variety of healthcare settings, like hospitals and physicians’ offices. Here, you will be involved in the general care of patients with a number of different health needs. You can have a perfectly fulfilling career as a registered nurse for the entirety of your nursing career; however, this role also provides you with a huge amount of experience and a great springboard for going on to specialize in other areas. Here are five career paths you can go down as a registered nurse. 

1Family Nurse Practitioner

As a family nurse practitioner, also known as an FNP, you will specialize in family practice. Look for BSN to FNP programs to find a master’s degree that specializes in this area. You will be involved in the care and treatment of both adults and children at all stages of the life cycle, from the very young to the very old. An FNP does more than simply treat the patient, however, and you will be involved in educating the communities you serve about healthcare issues and preventative care so that they have the knowledge needed to maintain health and wellness over the long term. An increasing number of states are allowing FNPs to work independently due to an extreme lack of doctors so that they can provide vital medical care to underserved communities. 

2Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

The importance of mental health and providing compassionate, effective treatment for those with mental health disorders is becoming increasingly recognized in society. As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you will help patients to heal from and manage a variety of psychiatric disorders, from anxiety and ADHD to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. As well as administering medication, psychiatric nurse practitioners follow a holistic approach to psychiatric care by providing patients and families with information regarding the disorder and what lifestyle alterations can be made to manage and improve their mental health. You will need to take a master’s degree or doctor of nursing practice program specializing in psychiatric nursing before gaining certification as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.

3Cruise Ship Nurse

If you would like to work in a non-traditional healthcare setting and are passionate about traveling the world, you could consider becoming a cruise ship nurse. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that this role is all about treating the odd case of traveler’s diarrhea while topping up your tan. Cruise liners are floating cities and, depending on the number of staff and passengers, you may have over 1000 individuals who could potentially experience medical emergencies at any time of the day or night. The size of the onboard medical team will depend on the size of the ship, and medical staff are required to be on call 24 hours a day. You might be faced with stabilizing patients experiencing serious medical emergencies, like cardiac arrests, until they can be safely disembarked, as well as common travel ailments like heat stroke and food poisoning. Most cruise liners ask for at least three years of experience as a registered nurse, and contracts are often available in six-month blocks for the length of a voyage, so you can properly decide whether a life on the open seas is for you. 

4Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Acute care nurses provide care for patients when they are at their most vulnerable. There are different areas in which your skills as an acute care nurse practitioner are invaluable, for example, in a trauma department providing critical care to patients who been involved in serious accidents or in an ICU monitoring and caring for those who are critically ill or have just had complex surgery. As an acute care nurse, you will have the specialist skills and knowledge to care for very poorly patients so that they have the best chances possible of making a good recovery. In addition to medical skills, you should also have a positive bedside manner and be able to effectively communicate complex, and sometimes upsetting, information to patients and family members.

Therefore, to prepare for this sort of role, you might benefit from undertaking tasks that help you improve your bedside manner and abilities to communicate well. As a nurse, these aspects should be already under your belt, but it can’t do any harm enhancing what you already have. To improve your bedside manner, make sure on your shifts you:

  • Keep patients well informed, treating them with a smile or compassion when talking to them
  • Show respect to them
  • Follow up after they leave 

To improve your communication skills, make sure that when talking, keep eye contact, keep great posture, and pay attention to non-verbal cues. The more you actively try to improve these two elements, the easier it will be to develop these skills that will be used so often as an acute care nurse.

5Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

A pediatric nurse practitioner specializes in providing care for children from birth to young adulthood. This involves a wide range of duties centered around the primary growth, care, and development of the child, such as administering routine vaccinations, performing well-child examinations, and diagnosing and treating common childhood illnesses. You will also help to educate children and their families about a number of healthcare issues so that they are empowered to take care of their own health throughout their lives. Pediatric nurse practitioners work with children in a number of settings, from hospitals to community agencies. You can also choose to specialize further in a pediatric sub-specialty like pediatric cardiology or dermatology to care for children experiencing particular health issues.

If you want to work with children but have only up until this point dealt with adult patients, it is important to recognize how differently you should speak and act around them. When interacting with them, observation is going to be critical. Unlike adults, children may not be able to explain in so many words how they feel or where it hurts. Be gentle and kind when talking to them and ensure that you keep their parents or guardians fully updated on the situation.