May 4, 2012
Niche nursing: Specialties that are in demand
May 6 marks the start of National Nurses Week. The annual celebration emphasizes the value of nursing while educating the public on the important role the profession plays in meeting the country’s health-care needs.
It’s no secret that nursing is considered an in-demand career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 26 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.
Some specialties within the field are considered especially in demand. Here’s a look at three of them: nurse midwives, home health-care nurses and nurses with informatics backgrounds.
Certified nurse midwives work with women from adolescence and older. According to the Mayo Clinic, the specialty is in high demand to provide obstetrics and gynecology services for low-risk patient populations. And as with home health-care nurses, the demand is growing as more people seek medical services outside of hospital and medical-office settings.
Amanda Deardorff, a certified nurse midwife at Midwife Seattle, explains that her duties include a wide scope of women’s health services.
National Nurses Week
When: The annual celebration begins May 6, which is also National Nurses Day, and ends May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.
2012 theme: Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring
“We care for women throughout their lifetime,” Deardorff says. “We provide well-woman visits, primary care, prenatal care, births and post-partum care.”
Midwives work in a variety of settings, including homes, clinics, birth centers and private practices. For example, Midwife Seattle offers the flexibility of choosing between a home birth and the use of a birthing suite in a birth center.
When assisting with births, midwives can work at all hours. “I think that for many midwives, the schedule is very trying because they take a lot of on-call hours,” Deardorff says.
It can be difficult to balance work and personal life, she says, but there are many aspects of the job that she finds rewarding.
“I love the look on a woman’s face when she has given birth and she realizes, ‘I just did that! I gave birth!’ ” Deardorff says. “I love watching women realize the strength they have inside themselves.”
A certified nurse midwife is an advanced-practice nurse who has training and education in both nursing and midwifery. Deardorff, for example, has a four-year nursing degree and a master’s in midwifery.
The national median salary for certified nurse midwives is $92,092, according to Salary.com.
Home health-care nurse
As baby boomers grow older, an increasing number of nurses are needed to care for patients in their homes. Demand for registered nurses (RNs) in the coming years is expected to be higher in home settings than in traditional hospital or medical facilities, according to the BLS.
Nurses who specialize in home health care work closely with patients. “I use my nursing expertise to help people with their health, safety, emotional, legal and financial needs as they age,” says Joni Scott, RN and certified geriatric-care manager at CareForce.
Organizations such as CareForce allow senior citizens and patients living with chronic illness to stay home for as many of their health-care needs as possible. The Seattle-based company employs RNs to work with clients.
Scott says that her days vary greatly. “I might take a client to the doctor’s office, provide and train caregivers, manage medications, arrange for medical equipment, or perform a home safety assessment,” she says.
It can be challenging to not work in a traditional hospital or clinic setting, Scott says.
“When a nurse works in home health care, he or she is giving care on the client’s turf,” she says. “You work in the patient’s living environment, not in a facility where you have a lot more control.”
But that’s also part of the appeal of this type of nursing. “Wherever there is a need for my services and wherever the person is, I go,” Scott says.
Education expectations for home health-care nurses can vary somewhat from agency to agency. Some may require their nurses to have certifications in specialties, such as hospice or wound care. All must graduate from an accredited nursing program, though.
According to Salary.com, the national median salary for home health-care nurses is $67,468.
Clinical nurse specialists with an informatics background
As technology continues to play an increasing role in patient care, the demand for nurses with an informatics background is also on the rise.
“So much of a nurse’s workflow is now electronic,” says Carol Shade, clinical nurse specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
A clinical nurse specialist in informatics acts as a liaison between the nursing and information technology departments.
“I do a fair amount of collaboration across disciplines, as we are continuously trying to standardize care in an effort to provide quality patient care using technology,” Shade says.
It is imperative to have nurses involved in the design, testing and building of new data systems, Shade says. Clinical nurse specialists in informatics incorporate their years of clinical practice into the design of electronic health records.
“It is so rewarding to help create a system that truly captures how a nurse provides patient care,” she says. “And then it’s great to see how the alerts we build into the system can guide the nurse to improved patient safety.”
Unlike many nursing specialties, clinical nurse specialists in informatics generally work traditional business hours in an office setting. In addition to a four-year nursing degree, Shade has a National Certification for Informatics and a certification from the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society. Many employers also expect clinical nurse specialists in informatics to have master’s degrees.
“Having a certification and additional knowledge in informatics has proven to be a real asset,” Shade says. In the coming years, she adds, “we will continue to have more and more work that is technology-based and electronic in nature.”
The national median salary for clinical nurse specialists is $89,196, according to Salary.com.
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