Specialized Nursing Careers: Overview of Careers by Specialization

Training in specialized nursing typically covers a specific condition, body system or healthcare department on which an RN wants to focus his or her practice. Find out about the requirements of specialized nursing roles, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for nursing graduates in various fields.

Nurses are required to have an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing and their registered nursing license. After they come a registered nurse they can opt to pursue specialty certification. Some areas they may choose to specialize in include HIV/AIDS nursing, gastroenterology nursing, and cardiovascular nursing.

Essential Information

After receiving initial schooling and training in nursing through an associate's or bachelor's degree program, passing the NCLEX-RN examination for registered nurses and becoming a licensed RN, an experienced nurse may enroll in a health-related specialization through a graduate or post-graduate program. They can then pursue a specialty certification. Alternately, they may accumulate work experience within their specialty to become eligible for certification. There are many specializations available for nurses that involve caring for patients who are living with specific conditions and diseases.

Career Titles HIV/AIDS Nurse Gastroenterology Nurse Cardiovascular Nurse
Required Education No additional education required No additional education required No additional education required; post-graduate degree in cardiovascular nursing is typical
License and Certification RN license required; specialty certification available RN license required; specialty certification available RN license required; specialty certification available
Other Requirements For specialty certification: two years of work experience in HIV/AIDS nursing For specialty certification: two years of work experience in gastroenterology and gastroenterology endoscopy nursing For specialty certification: two years of RN work experience; 2,000+ hours of cardiovascular nursing work experience; 30 hours of cardiovascular nursing continuing education
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 16% for all registered nurses 16% for all registered nurses 16% for all registered nurses
Median Annual Salary $67,490 for all registered nurses (2015)* $62,494 for all gastroenterology registered nurses (2016)** $61,800 for all cardiology registered nurses (2016)**

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Nurse Specializations

Nursing specializations are often available within graduate programs or organizations and combine academic coursework with clinical training. Students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to work in particular healthcare settings.

HIV/AIDS Nurses

These healthcare professionals provide care to patients living with HIV or AIDS. This practice of nursing uses prevention, adaptation and community care to educate high-risk individuals. These nurses teach patients and family members how to make his or her life more comfortable and fulfilling. HIV/AIDS nurses may earn their certification through the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board. Applicants must be registered nurses and have at least two years of professional experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not specifically report data on HIV/AIDS nurses; however, the BLS indicates that the median salary for registered nurses (RNs) overall was $67,490 per year as of May 2015.

Gastroenterology Nurses

These nurses are trained to treat patients with disorders of the intestines, which may include abdominal bleeding, acid reflux disease and ulcers. These nurses may also use devices that look inside and take pictures of at-risk organs. The American Board of Gastroenterology Nurses may certify those wishing to work in this field. The certification test requires knowledge and skill in pharmacology, data collection, gastrointestinal anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology risk factors and nursing techniques. According to PayScale.com, as of September 2016, the median annual salary of a gastroenterology registered nurse was $62,494.

Cardiovascular Nurses

These nursing professionals specialize in treating patients with primary and coronary heart disease. Patients may have had heart surgery in the past, and the nurse provides postoperative rehabilitative services for these patients. They may work under the direct supervision of cardiologists. Cardiovascular nurses often earn a post-graduate degree in cardiovascular nursing within a specialized program and may become certified through the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association. PayScale.com showed that cardiology nurses made a median annual salary of $61,800 as of 2016.

HIV/AIDS nurses provide specialized care to patients living with HIV or AIDS. Gastroenterology nurses work with patients who have disorders with their intestines, while cardiovascular nurses focus on treating patients with heart disease. After completing the requirements to become a nurse, it is possible to choose one of these fields and complete specialized certification, which can increase a nurse's job opportunities within their preferred field of medicine.


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