Registered nurses who wish to further their training and careers have a number of different nurse practitioner career options to choose from. To become a nurse practitioner, an RN needs to pursue a master’s degree. Some pursue a doctorate as well. The RN can specialize in pediatrics, family care, or psychiatry if they choose. Other nurse practitioner careers include neonatal care, women’s health, and midwifery. Nurse practitioner jobs may be in a hospital, private doctor’s office, or other clinical setting. Some nurse practitioners work for the armed forces or in home health care settings.
Family Care or Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
One of the nurse practitioner career options available is to become a pediatric nurse practitioner or a family care nurse practitioner. While a pediatric NP focuses on children, a family care nurse treats people at any age. These nurse practitioner jobs require at least a master’s degree in family care or pediatric nursing. They usually also require certification in that specialty.
The role of a family care or pediatric nurse practitioner usually involves providing care to children or adult patients. An NP can examine a patient and treat certain illnesses. In many states, they are able to write prescriptions and order tests, just as a doctor would. Some states do require a doctor to sign off on any prescriptions a nurse practitioner writes, though.
Other nurse practitioner careers include work as a midwife. Like other nurse practitioner careers, an RN must receive a graduate degree to become a midwife. Midwives work with women who are pregnant through all stages of the pregnancy, including birth. They also administer gynecological care to women who are not yet pregnant. Typically, a midwife is able to help with the delivery of a baby as long as there are no complications and medical care or surgery is not required. Once the baby is born, the midwife can provide care during their first month of life.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners
Women’s health nurse practitioners are similar to midwives, except they do not deliver or care for infants. Nurse practitioners jobs in women’s health focus on well-woman examinations and routine gynecological testing. A women’s health nurse practitioner is able to perform a PAP smear, for example, and to provide STD screening and treatment. They are also able to prescribe birth control and counsel a patient about her contraceptive options. To become a women’s health nurse practitioner, a registered nurse needs a master’s degree and certification from the National Certification Corporation.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
Other nurse practitioner career options include becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner. A neonatal nurse cares for newborn babies who are ill. The babies may be premature or full-term. They may be in the neonatal intensive care unit or in the regular nursery area of a hospital. Some neonatal nurses provide care to newborns that are healthy as well. Usually, the neonatal nurse is responsible for the care and treatment of their newborn patients, though most work under the supervision of a neonatal doctor. Most neonatal nurse practitioners have a masters or advanced degree and advanced clinical training in neonatal care. Training for a neonatal nurse is different from training for a nurse who will work with adults or older children. During training, a nurse will study pharmacology for newborns as well as embryology and neonatal physiology. They will also learn to interact with families.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Registered nurses who work in a psychiatric or mental health setting may decide to advance their careers by becoming psychiatric nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists. Nurse practitioners specialize in psychiatric-mental health and earn master’s degrees. While RNs are able to develop a nursing plan for patients with mental health disorders, nurse practitioners are able to diagnose mental health disorders and provide a plan for treatment. They may also work with patients who have the potential for a disorder but who are not yet showing symptoms.
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners can decide to pursue doctoral degrees as well. Some work as professors or researchers as well as with patients. There are also several areas of specialty available for psychiatric nurse practitioners. A nurse may focus on adolescent or childhood mental disorders or on substance-abuse disorders. Another option is to specialize in the mental disorders associated with old age or in forensics.