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25 Top Schools for Nursing Specialties

You probably already know that nursing, besides being a noble profession, is also one of the most lucrative, with job prospects over the next decade that far exceed almost any other thing you can do. It’s not a coincidence that there are well over 2.7 million nurses practicing in the healthcare field today, and still there is a shortage…

Particularly in the newer degree fields, specialties like nursing law and informatics. Some colleges “get it” and are on the leading edge of these degree fields. Which isn’t to say that some awesome new approaches to traditional nursing specialty fields isn’t relevant. Technology changes everything, even centuries old professions, like midwifery.

So picking the right school is important. Below, find schools that have superb programs in some of the top nursing specialties employers are seeking.

Meanwhile, if you’re reading this, you’ve chosen well in your professional goals. Overall, the projected job growth for nurses is faster than average among all U.S. occupations. What follows are 25 of the fastest growing, most in demand and in some cases, newer specialties within the nursing field. Salaries and projected growth figures are from and the BLS.

Note, some of the newer fields show less growth prospects than the more traditional. But time will tell. And as demand grows, salaries rise.

25. Occupational Therapist Assistant

University of Southern California

Patients require occupational therapy for a number of reasons. A fluke accident or a stroke or lifelong conditions like cerebral palsy will bring patients to an occupational therapy office. And OTAs will help these patients to live independent – or as independent as possible – lives by teaching them ways to perform the daily tasks and routines of life. An OTA, for instance, will help construct a plan so that a wheelchair-bound child can navigate the school hallways, locker room and cafeteria on his or her own. An OTA will also create plans for those with spinal cord injuries, and they’ll walk these patients through how to live with their new paralysis. The goals for each patient will vary depending on their condition.

Education/Training: An occupational therapy assistant will need to get an associate degree, which can typically be completed in about two years or so. There are currently 326 occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. The coursework includes an array of topics, which range from anatomy to oral communication. Beside classes, OTA students will need to get 16 weeks of fieldwork, which might take place in a hospital, nursing care facility or OT office, among other places. After graduating, students will also have to take the OTA certification exam that’s administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Most states will then require OTAs to acquire a license to practice. But take a look at your job prospects: according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is an outstanding field to be in, with great job prospects.

According to U.S.News and World Report, the top school for learning this nursing specialty is University of Southern California. Surprised? USC is not just a football school. Actually, USC’s OT program is world-renowned. The curriculum encompasses classes on such subjects as clinical reasoning, behavioral neuroscience and effective communication, as well as elective choices in areas like lifestyle redesign, ergonomics and assistive technology. The program also includes immersion courses in geriatrics and physical rehabilitation, pediatrics and mental health, each of which incorporates practical fieldwork in its respective area. USC also offers a one-year OT master’s program for board-eligible or certified occupational therapists.

Post graduation outlook:
Job growth through 2020: 41%
Average Salary: $53,000

24. Telemetry Nurses

Bossier Parish Community College

Telemetry nurses work with sophisticated equipment, so they must be proficient in using technology and interpreting data. They also need extensive medical knowledge and a familiarity with their patients’ medical history, so that they can ensure that patients are receiving the correct care and answer any questions patients may have. Telemetry unit RNs are typically responsible for multiple patients at a time, so strong multi-tasking abilities are a helpful trait.

Education: When staffing a telemetry unit, many employers prefer to hire nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Completion of a four-year undergraduate degree signifies that an RN is likely to have strong analytical skills and a capability for interpreting complex medical equipment. Telemetry unit RNs must also complete a certification exam to attain the Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN) designation.

Located in Bossier City, Louisiana, BPCC has an extraordinary nursing Program committed to student-centered learning through academic instruction, skills laboratory, clinical simulation, clinical experiences, and community service to promote excellence in nursing and the maximum development of student potential within an ethical, intellectually stimulating environment of caring in which diverse students develop their academic and nursing skills.

The ECG/Telemetry program provides short term (one semester) training for entry level positions in health care by preparing students to perform non-invasive cardiology tests, ECGs, stress tests, Holter monitoring, and arrhythmia recognition.

The ECG/Telemetry Technician Program includes didactic and laboratory courses in which students must show competency in reading through ACT, placement testing, or by enrolling in READ 099 during the first semester. Upon successful completion of required courses, the student will receive the Technical Competency Area in ECG/Telemetry. And as you can see by the average salary…it’s a lucrative specialty.

Projected job growth through 2020: 26%
Average salary: $55,000

23. Pediatric Nurse


A pediatric nurse is a registered nurse that specializes in children’s illnesses and treatments. This type of nurse will oversee treatment, help keep patient records, take vital signs, help perform tests and work with the families and the staff to coordinate care. Some may specialize further by becoming a pediatric oncology nurse or a critical care pediatric nurse.

Education: The best way to becoming a pediatric nurse is to carefully obtain a current RN license for the state in which they work. They may opt to get their bachelor’s degree in pediatric nursing, although requirements vary by state and employer. Many voluntarily obtain additional certification through pediatric nurse’s organizations. Some learn on the job training.

The University’s School of Nursing is educating the next generation of transformational leaders in nursing. That could be you. The programs advance nursing science in issues of global importance and foster the scholarly practice of nursing; and Duke has been ranked sixth in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report for its 2016 Best Nursing Schools rankings.

The pediatric nurse practitioner – primary care (PNP–PC) major in the Duke MSN Program prepares pediatric nurses to provide comprehensive primary health care to children of all ages. The curriculum emphasizes content areas such as health maintenance, prevention, management of common acute and chronic pediatric illnesses, behavioral issues, and patient/family education. Emphasis is placed on family-centered culturally sensitive care. Students receive one-on-one clinical practice experience in diverse settings such as community pediatric practices, school-based health clinics, health departments, and hospital ambulatory settings.

Post graduation outlook:
Projected job growth through 2020: 19%
Average salary: $65,000

22. Trauma Nurse

University of Pennsylvania

Trauma nurses are always in demand. They work in emergency rooms, trauma centers, and urgent care centers. Because of the intense atmosphere that is encountered in emergency rooms, especially in larger cities, some trauma nurses need to leave the field for a period of time to recover. Of course, some trauma nurses thrive in the same atmosphere.

Trauma nurses are often the first health care provider to treat a patient in the hospital, so their role in triage is extremely important, as well. They are on the first line of defense when patients are brought in by ambulance, and can see some horrendous injuries that even experienced nurses in other fields would find difficult to handle. Because emergency rooms are never closed, trauma nurses can expect to work long and unusual hours, often on holidays.
Education: The trauma nurse certification also does not require an advanced degree, but does require coursework. First, you will need to have your RN license, and log in at least two years of emergency room or other similar experience. At that point, you will need to apply for your emergency nursing certification, a process administered by the Board of Emergency Nursing. After that, you will need to take and pass a “core” course in trauma nursing provided by the Emergency Nurses Association. There are many trauma fields in which you can receive certification, including emergency, flight, pediatrics, and critical care ground transport.

One of the great schools in all fields, their medical programs are second to none, world-wide. The University of Pennsylvania’s “Surgical Critical Care” fellowship is a fully-accredited ACGME training program within the Department of Surgery. The fellowship is designed to educate fellows in all phases of care of the critically ill and injured surgical patient.

Penn’s training philosophy can be divided into several discrete areas including clinical training, research, academic framework, and trauma community integration.   The clinical training is focused on cutting-edge, evidenced-based experiences in trauma, emergency general surgery (acute care surgery) & surgical critical care.  Fellows will complete the program with not only top notch technical expertise, but with the strongest command of all care strategies and theory.

Post graduation outlook:
Projected job growth through 2020: 26%
Average salary: $66,303

21. Cardiac Nurse

Mayo School of Health Sciences (campuses in Minnesota, Florida, Arizona)

Cardiac nurses are RNs who have specialized in an advanced knowledge of the cardiovascular system. These types of nurses may work in a multitude of medical facilities and take care of patients that are in care for heart problems, including cardiac dysrhythmia, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, or other surgical issues.

The direction of a cardiologist is usually followed to design treatment and care for patients before and after surgical procedures. Cardiac nurses monitor the vital signs of patients before and after surgery and help patients to deal with any pain they experience during healing. You would also be in charge of postoperative health and recovery, completing evaluations that test for stress and other influences in cardiac health.

Education: The two most common nursing degrees are the Associate of Science in Nursing, a 2-year program, and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a 4-year program. Nursing programs provide students with core courses in nursing, including anatomy, ethics, nutrition, health assessment and nursing research. In addition to coursework, students will complete clinical experiences.

Mayo offers small classes, personalized attention and a supportive, noncompetitive environment to educate allied health professionals who are vital to the delivery of quality patient care.

Access the best clinical, technological and educational resources available — Mayo’s internationally renowned clinical practice, vast depth of knowledge and collaborative model of care — to achieve a rewarding and successful career in the evolving world of health care, The Mayo School also offers a competitive Cardiology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship, which accepts two fellows a year. Applicants with a strong interest in continuing a career in a cardiovascular field are considered if they have graduated from an accredited nurse practitioner (NP) school and completed an adult-gerontology acute care specialty program. Upon completion of the fellowship, the fellow is more confident in his or her cardiovascular knowledge, which allows him or her to transition into and be more competitive for cardiovascular NP positions. Potential candidates are reviewed and selected by an application and interview process.

Post graduation outlook:
Projected job growth over the next 10 years: 19%
Average salary: $65,470

20. Burn Unit Registered Nurse

The Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center

A burn unit RN is a registered nurse that provides patient care for those suffering from burns. This job requires a nurse to help with the physical treatment of the illness as well as psychological and emotional support as well. This is a very demanding job

Education: Burn unit RN’s must be licensed to work as an RN and are often required to take additional burn unit care classes and certification programs as well.

The clinic serves all of Arizona and receives patients from many surrounding states and Northern Mexico. Recognized by the Arizona Department of Health Services, Division of Emergency Medical Services and Health Care Facilities as a Burn Center, the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center follows the guidelines for organizational structure, personnel, program and physical facilities as defined by the American Burn Association and the College of Surgeons. As a burn center, it is distinguished from other, nonspecific settings in which burn care is provided.

Post graduation outlook:
Average Salary: $62,000
Projected job growth through 2020: 19% (for all RNs)

19. Home Care Nurse

Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, Conn.)

Coordinates the overall interdisciplinary plan of care for a patient, from admission to discharge in a home care environment. Acts as the liaison between patient/family and homecare personnel to ensure necessary care is provided promptly and effectively. Must be a registered nurse with 2-4 years of clinical experience. Familiar with standard concepts, practices, and procedures within a particular field. Relies on experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. Performs a variety of tasks.

Education: If you’re interested in becoming a home care nurse will need to complete training through an accredited nursing program or a nursing college to be a registered nurse with a current license. They will also need to stay abreast of current regulatory agencies regarding the restrictions of home care relief. They may also wish to take additional courses in home care.

The certificate program at SHU in Home Health Care Management is superb … designed for nurses in management positions in Home Health Agencies to meet the State of Connecticut, Department of Public Health (DPH) requirements.  DPH requires nurses in managerial positions in home care who do not have a BSN to complete at least six credits in health care management or community health from an accredited college, university or school of nursing. This is an online certificate, the online format permits students to learn at a time and place amenable to their needs.

Post graduation outlook

Projected growth: 19% through 2020
Average salary: $63,000

18. Public Health Nursing

Johns Hopkins

Coordinates the overall interdisciplinary plan of care for a patient, from admission to discharge in a home care environment. Acts as the liaison between patient/family and homecare personnel to ensure necessary care is provided promptly and effectively. Must be a registered nurse with 2-4 years of clinical experience. Familiar with standard concepts, practices, and procedures within a particular field. Relies on experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. Performs a variety of tasks.

Education: Public health nursing is a specialized field of registered nursing, which means that a 3-year college diploma, 2-year Associate’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor of Science in nursing degree are necessary in order to continue on and practice. Graduates of these programs are expected to experience hands on practical training within their field of specialized study, and are also required to pass the national licensure examination or NCLEX-RN examination, which all registered nurses across the United States must complete. Secondary licensure and training may be sought through the Community or Public Health Certification Exam. Additional training might be necessary in specific facilities and states as well.

The MSN-PHN/MPH program at the Johns Hopkins University prepares and inspires nurses to effectively deliver nursing services in community settings. Offered jointly through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and the Bloomberg School of Public Health this degree option teaches advanced mastery of nursing theory and practice, as well as a population-based, multidisciplinary perspective.

You’ll learn to guide teams in the development of innovative, evidence-based, and culturally appropriate healthcare services for identified high-risk populations, and your management, knowledge, and experience will inform your contributions to public healthcare. In the ever-changing world of community health, you need a clear path to smart solutions.

Post graduation outlook:
Projected growth: 19% through 2020
Average salary: $64,000

17. Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse

Pensacola State College, Fla.

ICU RNs work in hospital ICUs to ensure that patients receive the kind of high level care that they need. This can include a wide range of things ranging from medication administration to monitoring vitals to controlling the risk of infection.

Education: A bachelor’s degree is the primary path to become an Intensive Care Unit RN, most in the field may earn a master’s degree or complete additional training in order to assume leadership roles. Generally, earning a nursing degree and then taking specialized training in ICU procedures will occur. A good percentage of education is done on the job.

This university’s critical care program offers an advanced certificate is designed for the registered nurse who has had no previous experience in critical care. At the completion of this course, it is expected that the nurse will be able to practice independently at the beginning level in a high acuity setting. Course content includes knowledge and skills required to provide nursing care to patients with multi-system disorders. This Advanced Technical Certificate is usually offered one time a year. One semester is didactic content and simulated clinical experiences. The second semester is a critical care preceptorship in a local hospital.

Scheduling is flexible. Enrollment requires: current, unencumbered Florida licensure as a Registered Nurse, two years current clinical experience in the acute care setting; application to the College; application to Health-Related Program.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $65,000

16. Travel Registered Nurse

The University of Washington in Seattle

A travel RN doesn’t earn as much as some other RNs, but they enjoy the benefit of travel as a job perk. Travel RNs often work for cruise lines and other similar companies, providing medical care during cruises and travels to other countries.

Education: Requirements for becoming a travel nurse will be to hold an RN degree, which is usually obtained through earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. You will also need to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to become certified, and then complete at least one year of on the job training in order to gain the experience needed to thrive in the field.

Becoming a traveling nurse requires you to pass through the usual stages of nursing school. The accepted minimum is Registered Nurse, which entails about two to three years of schooling. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University of Washington’s School of Nursing number one in the nation every year since 1984. At the school, students can pursue both undergraduate and graduate programs for registered nurses. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program prepares students to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Completion of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program qualifies graduates for leadership positions.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $66,000

15. Clinical Nurse Specialist

Georgetown University’s online program

A clinical nurse specialist sees and treats people at a level that approaches that of a regular doctor. The training of a clinical nurse specialist is similar in some ways to that of a nurse practitioner, as both require a Master of Science in Nursing.

The difference is that a nurse practitioner does primary patient care in family medicine, obstetrics or another field. A clinical nurse specialist provides care for a certain illness, population or sort of medical issue. They also are used a lot in ERs and critical care.

Education: A clinical nurse specialist starts as an RN with a bachelor’s degree. The nurse then earns an MSN or possibly a doctorate degree specializing in clinical nursing.

This University is one of the world’s leading academic and research institutions, offering a unique educational experience that prepares the next generation of global citizens to lead and make a difference in the world. The University’s School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) has been educating the next generation of BSN-prepared nurses since 1903.

Nursing@Georgetown is a Master’s in Nursing program delivered online by Georgetown’s renowned School of Nursing & Health Studies. These programs are designed to help the next generation of nursing leaders achieve their career goals while improving the health and well-being of all people.  At Nursing@Georgetown students will find unique blend of carefully selected clinical–based nursing experiences and highly interactive online learning in an intimate classroom setting with a student community form across the country. Nursing@Georgetown brings this high-quality and innovative experience to students in their own community while providing them access to the same highly regarded faculty from Georgetown School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) on-campus program.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $66,000

14. Pain Management Nurse

University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

There are many registered nurses who work with doctors on pain management issues, but pain management nurse is an advanced nursing specialty that gives a nurse more responsibility, more autonomy, and an increased salary.

Pain management is a critically important area of medicine, both because of the need to alleviate chronic pain and because of the caution that must be taken to help patients avoid addiction to narcotic pain medications. A pain management nurse examines patients to help determine the cause of the pain, consults with doctors and other nurses as to the proper course of treatment for the pain, and educates patients about pain management.

Education: Look. You don’t need an advanced degree such as a master’s or a doctorate degree to become a pain management nurse; a bachelor’s degree and your RN license are sufficient. You do, however, need a lot of nursing experience. Before you can apply to take your certification exam, you will need to have worked full-time as an RN for at least two years, and to have worked at least 2000 hours in a pain management nursing role during the three years preceding your application to take the exam.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a certification for pain management nursing entitled RN – BC. In order to obtain this nursing certification, you will need to hold an active RN license, practice two years as a registered nurse, have 200 hours practice in a pain management nursing within 3 years of applying, and complete at least 30 hours of continued education within 3 years of taking the test.  15 hours of this study must be related to pain management.
Once you have the required amount of experience, then apply to the American Nurses Credentialing Center to take your pain management exam. Upon passing, you will officially be a pain management nurse.

Ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, this nursing school’s RN Options program is superb. Many healthcare organizations are recognizing the advantage of having more bachelors, masters and DNP-prepared professional nurses. Research clearly indicates patients cared for by professional nurses with advanced degrees have a higher incidence of positive healthcare outcomes. RN Options provides professional nurses an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills at a school of nursing with an international reputation for excellence.  Not only does this curriculum builds upon a professional nurse’s strengths and experiences. it expands knowledge and practice skills to provide potential career-changing opportunities.

The RN Options track and curriculum are designed for: Registered nurses with either an CCNE, NLN, ACICS or ACEN accredited diploma or associate degree. Or registered nurses without a BSN who want to enter the master’s program via the RN Options track, and gain early admission to MSN or DNP programs;
Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $78,000

13. Perianesthesia Nurse

Profile: Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions

What is a perianesthesia nurse you might ask. OK. Maybe better known as a recovery room nurse. A perianesthesia nurse takes care of people who have left the operating room and are beginning to come out of anesthesia. This position is critical to the care of surgical patients: A few patients will react badly as they come out of anesthesia, with effects ranging from confusion and belligerence to more life-threatening events such as difficulty breathing.

A perianesthesia nurse also needs a great deal of discretion; even those patients who wake up peacefully from anesthesia often are confused and say odd things or act unusually. For example, a patient may come out of anesthesia and begin shaking hands and thanking everyone around her. Even someone who is normally a little reserved may become extremely talkative about anything that catches his eye catches when he comes out of anesthesia.

The demand for perianesthesia nurses in all settings will continue to rise as medical research discovers new ways in which surgery can be used to cure or correct diseases.

Education: you do not need an advanced degree to become a perianesthesia nurse, just experience. The minimum educational and licensing requirements are an associate’s degree and an RN license. But…your electives in nursing should focus on anesthesia and perianesthesia, if possible. After that, you will need to have worked at least 1800 hours in a perianesthesia setting before you can apply to take your certification exam, which is administered by the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing. There are two certifications you can obtain: one in post anesthesia and the other in ambulatory perianesthesia.

The school’s Perinanethesia Certification Review includes a review of topics important for the Certified Post anesthesia Nurse (CPAN) certification exam and the Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA) certification exam offered by the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing. Program topics will include:

• Anesthetic Agents and Techniques
• Complications
• Hemodynamic Monitoring
• Preop Preparation, Patient Education, Discharge
• Legal, Ethics, Research, Management
• Acid Base Balance and ABG Interpretation
• ASPAN Standards
• Test Taking Techniques

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: a whopping 46%
Average Salary: $79,000

12. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit RN

Ohio State University

These nurses work in neonatal ICU facilities providing round the clock care to sick or premature newborns. Their jobs are incredibly rewarding and bring high pay. They’re also in very high demand, and take part in very specialized medical care processes.

Educational requirement: At least 1 year of acute care – hospital based – Post Anesthesia Care Unit Registered Nurse experience.

OSU’s Neonatal Nurse Practitioner specialty prepares graduates for many challenging career opportunities. Graduates meet the demands of today’s health care workforce in a variety of hospital-based settings, follow-up/developmental clinics, and community-based primary care settings.

Coursework, field experience, and research allow our students to acquire the knowledge, values, and skills necessary for advanced practice nursing certification. This specialty meets the curriculum guidelines of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties and National Association of Neonatal Nurses and the requirements for advanced practice certification set by the National Certification Corporation. In order to be eligible for neonatal nurse practitioner certification, students must have two years of full-time work experience in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) prior to beginning the clinical courses. Students who do not have two years of this experience may work in a NICU while completing non-clinical courses.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $83,000

11. Oncology Registered Nurse

Columbia University School of Nursing

An oncology registered nurse is an RN that has specialized in providing care to cancer patients. They may work in an oncology ward of a hospital or in a private physician’s office. Job duties will include helping monitor a patient, administering chemotherapy or other treatments, helping an oncologist provide care to patients, and more. In many instances, oncology RNs will find themselves providing some measure of moral, emotional, and mental support to patients who are fighting cancer.

Education: Associate’s or bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse (RN); specialized training in oncology nursing can be pursued at the graduate level.

At Columbia University, the Oncology Nurse Practitioner subspecialty program prepares students to excel as advanced practice nurses in a variety of primary and acute settings, including comprehensive cancer centers, community hospitals, ambulatory clinics, private practice, palliative care settings and hospice. Graduates of the Adult Oncology Nurse Practitioner program are eligible for certification through the ANCC or AANP.

Students will also be prepared to obtain certification as an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP) by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) pending required clinical hours. Graduates of the Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner program are eligible for certification through the ANCC or the NCBPNP/N. Also, students will be prepared to obtain certification as a Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) by the ONCC pending required clinical hours.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $83,000

10. Informatics Nurse

Vanderbilt University

An informatics nursing position would be perfect for a nurse with a strong affinity for math, statistics and information systems. The informatics nurse’s job is to collect, interpret, and forward necessary medical data coming from and into hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes. Informatics nurses also may be required to train other nurses in the facility on new technology as it is adopted.

Some places where a nurse informaticist might be needed include pharmaceutical research companies, hospitals, and government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Although this particular field of nursing does not have the broad demand of other fields such as clinical nursing, informatics nursing is highly specialized with few qualified nurses, making it a high demand field.

Education: You need a bachelor’s degree in nursing, as well as your RN license. You then spend time working as a clinical RN. While you do so, take courses on how to be an informatics nurse; the required courses are usually given as CLE courses. When ready, apply to the American Nurses Credentialing Center to receive your informatics certification.

According to U.S. News, Vanderbilt’s nursing school is ranked within the top-15 nursing schools in the nation and features a very strong nursing informatics program. What makes Vanderbilt so strong is an amazing faculty that provides students with all-encompassing knowledge and real-word experience regarding nursing informatics.

The main feature Vanderbilt’s Nursing Informatics Program is that it is designed to help students not only perform the necessary informatics skills, but also to create new and innovative solutions that differ from the stale results that most provide. The faculty of this program is very focused on innovation, while also maintain a strong connection with the patients, which are at the heart of the situation.

By the way, the Duke School of Nursing, along with Vandy, are considered among the top schools offering degrees in nursing informatics.

Post graduation outlook

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 22%
Average Salary: $88,000

9. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

University of South Carolina

A gerontological nurse practitioner is someone who has gone through the nurse practitioner certification process and specializes in treating the elderly. That’s a good place to be these days, because the large baby boomer generation is growing old, the number of elderly people in the country will increase, placing the field of gerontological nurse practitioner in high demand.

Gerontological nurse practitioners may work in a clinic, a nursing home, a home health service, or at a hospital. In some states, they can also have their own private practice. You will diagnose illnesses, chart a course of treatment, prescribe medications, including medication for pain, and do routine check-ups, filtered through the prism of special knowledge you will have about the elderly.

Education requirement: You will need to be licensed as a registered nurse; you will need a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing and need to achieve your certification for practicing gerontology from the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

The nursing programs at USC began in 1942, as a part of an effort to meet the nation’s nursing needs during World War II. The school of nursing never looked back. It was accredited in 1957. USC’s Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nursing Practitioner program is 18 credit hours and includes diagnostic interpretation, management of acute adult health problems, applied technology in health care and a seminar in clinical nursing research.

Other schools with strong gerontology degree programs include Duke and Johns Hopkins.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $92,170

8. Certified Nurse Midwife

Frontier Nursing University

As a certified nurse midwife, you will work alongside obstetricians seeing patients. When low-risk pregnancies are involved, you will follow your patient throughout her pregnancy, provide routine check-ups and educate her on prenatal care.

In some states, you even can deliver babies by yourself. You certainly will help deliver babies, whether you are allowed to do it solo or not. After the birth, you will continue to educate your patients in how to care for their newborn, and continue with routine exams as needed.

Education requirement: To become a certified nurse midwife, first earn your RN license, then work for between two to four years in obstetrics. After that, you will need to complete a nurse midwife education or direct entry program, and then apply for your certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives Certification Council, or a similar group.

This school, in Hyden, Kentucky, is the top rated school teaching midwifery in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report. Frontier University’s nurse-midwifery is a program for RNs with a bachelor’s degree who wish to become a nurse midwife. In the school’s community-based Nurse-Midwifery Education Program (CNEP), students will complete studies either full-time or part-time with their home community serving as classroom. As a student, you will also complete a clinical practicum in your community, where you’ll work closely with a certified nurse-midwife. FNU has agreements with preceptor sites across the country and continually adds sites.

The university’s curriculum has a strong academic and clinical basis. It is unique in teaching not only how to be a nurse-midwife, but also to be an entrepreneur and a leader in maternal and infant health care. CNEP also has a strong primary care component, preparing graduates to care for women across their lifespan.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 22%
Average Salary: $92,229

7. Psychiatric Nurse

University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing

Psychiatric nurses utilize their expertise in mental health, therapy, and crisis intervention to help their patients master or effectively deal with their mental illness so they can live productive, fulfilling lives. Psychiatric nurses help patients avoid poverty, disability, social isolation, and other problems associated with psychiatric problems.

Psychiatric nurses help patients with problems such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, addictions and substance abuse, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and psychiatric disorders. They treat patients’ mental health needs in hospitals, community mental health programs, outpatient mental health clinics, substance abuse centers, private practices, jails, and in other settings.

Psychiatric nurses, as part of treatment team, help create detailed plans to provide effective, comprehensive care for patients. During the treatment phase they typically offer counseling to help patients and their family members understand the illness. Some psychiatric nurses teach patients to perform daily tasks such as managing their medications and grooming and dressing.

Education requirement: Nurses working in the mental health field include psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychiatric registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants. Psychiatric registered nurses typically need a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited college. Psychiatric nurse practitioners, who diagnose and prescribe medications, need a master’s degree or higher. Psychiatric nursing graduate certificates are typically for nurses with a master’s degree.

The Department of Health Systems Science (HSS) at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing (UIC CON) advances research/scholarship on multilevel determinants (psychosocial, behavioral, environmental, systems) of health and translates this research/scholarship into practice, care delivery, and policy to improve the health of individuals, families, communities, organizations, and populations.

The HSS Department offers Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs to prepare family and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners and health systems leaders (advanced population health and health systems leadership and informatics) as well as a PhD program to prepare the next generation of nurse scientists.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $93,500

6. Nurse Researcher

Michigan State College of Nursing

Nurse researchers work with medical research organizations to perform studies in health. Essentially, they are scientists specializing in research that affects nursing. Nurse researchers might work on improving nursing performance, improving infection control in hospital environments, discovering cures for diseases, or discovering new information in areas of microbiology.

The studies they design must meet the rigid standards applied to all scientific studies. Whatever subject they study, nurse researchers improve the field of nursing every day.

Like other scientists, nurse researchers must learn how to write grant proposals in order to apply for funding for their studies, and must know how to analyze and report data in a scientific manner.
Education requirement: You need to have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing and your RN license. A doctorate in nursing is not necessarily required, but it is highly recommended, since it will expand the types of studies you can do and the places where you can do them.

One of the premiere universities in the land is also an institution that offers a superb lineup of nursing degrees through its College of Nursing. At Michigan State University, nationally acclaimed nurse researchers conduct cutting edge research that changes lives.
MSU’s PhD in nursing program attracts talented, dedicated and high-achieving students who seek to make an impact as nurse scientists. Here research and evidence-based nursing practice contributes to the science of healthcare, addressing priority health problems faced by individuals, families, and communities.
The College of Nursing prepares PhD scholars who are ready to assume leadership roles in academia and research.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 36%
Average Salary: $95,000

5. Nurse Practitioner

Saint Louis University School of Nursing

A nurse practitioner (NP) is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) whose specialized education and clinical training allow him or her to provide higher levels of care and perform a variety of tasks not permitted for registered nurses. Nurse practitioners often focus on specific areas or populations, including pediatrics, geriatrics, mental health or adult medicine.

The rules governing nurse practitioners vary from state to state, but typically include such tasks as performing physical assessments, diagnosing illnesses, ordering and analyzing diagnostic tests and procedures and managing patient treatment. Nurse practitioners can also prescribe medications, however the prescribing of controlled substances may be tightly regulated or prohibited in some states.

Education requirement to enter the career can vary slightly depending on the specialty, but at least a master’s degree education is necessary.

The Saint Louis University School of Nursing has been a national leader in nursing education since founded in 1928. The School has achieved a national reputation for its innovative and pioneering bachelor’s, master’s, post-master’s NP certificate and doctoral (DNP & PhD) programs — one of which is the Master of Science in Nursing – Nurse Practitioner program (MSN-NP). This program prepares RN’s as leaders in the role of the nurse practitioner through comprehensive coursework and practical experience in clinical settings.

A variety of specialties and role preparations are offered to meet the demands of today’s healthcare providers and patient care needs. An educator option is also available to those who plan to become involved in nursing education. Students who choose the Educator Option will take three additional courses focusing on theory and practicum experience in nursing education. An additional three credit Education course may be added so that the student may apply for the NLN Nurse Educator certificate.

The MSN-NP program offers the flexibility that most working RN’s require. All program specialties and options are offered completely online.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 34%
Average Salary: $95,070

4. Head Nurse

Mercy College

Plans and implements the overall nursing policies, procedures, and services for a unit. Maintains nursing staff by recruiting, selecting, orienting, and training clinical staff. Ensures that nurses are current in competencies, assessments, licensure, certifications, and other annual training.

May provide direct patient care and is responsible for assessing, planning, and evaluating patients. Familiar with a variety of the field’s concepts, practices, and procedures. Relies on experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. Performs a variety of tasks. Leads and directs the work of others.

Education: Undergraduate and graduate degrees required.
Head nurses are typically registered nurses with years of work experience. They also usually hold master’s degrees, but many schools require nurse educators to hold PhDs. Additionally, many are also nurse educators who have obtained teaching training or certificates.

At Mercy College, with campuses located in and around New York City, students develop knowledge and skills in management, decision-making, teaching, counseling, speaking and writing. Gain experience in the ability to handle emergencies, work independently and be flexible.

Develop expertise in first aid procedures. Expand knowledge of health issues related to age, cultures, religions, ethics and government policies. As you can see, their program covers the spectrum of possible issues you’d encounter in a position of leadership. But in the end, it’s about experience, if you intend to someday be a head nurse.

Post graduation outlook:

Average Salary: $97,799
Projected job growth through 2020: 19% (for all RNs)

3. Dialysis Registered Nurse

Molloy College

A dialysis registered nurse specializes in providing dialysis to patients with kidney issues. They may work in a dialysis center, hospital, or other medical facility. In some cases positions are available at resorts and even on cruise ships that have dialysis centers set up for patrons. Additional responsibilities could include things like monitoring vital signs and ensuring that the patient is following good care guidelines after they leave the dialysis center. This position pays excellent wages and is in high demand.

Education: A Bachelor’s degree plus specialized training.

Located less than an hour from Manhattan, Molloy is one of the most affordable private colleges on Long Island. In fact, Money Magazine recently named Molloy a “Best Value” college, ranking it ahead of all other Long Island colleges that offer a full range of degrees and majors. We were also ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top colleges in the Northeast, higher than any other Long Island college in our category.

If you are considering this specialty, Molloy’s Hemodialysis Training program for R.N.s and L.P.N.s was designed for you. You will have lecture plus hands-on clinical experience. Taught by nephrology practitioners, this program will prepare you for an entry-level position in a Hemodialysis unit.

The program is generally offered 2-3 times per year, one night a week for six weeks at Molloy’s Suffolk Center in Farmingdale, New York (on Long Island).

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 26%
Average Salary: $100,000

2. Dermatology Nurse Practitioner

Lahey Hospital and Medical Center

A dermatology nurse practitioner is a specialty nurse in the field of dermatology. These highly trained professionals work with patients for skin, hair and nail care needs, and this can include ordering diagnostic tests, offering examinations, treating skin diseases and prescribing medication. May be the sole source of dermatologic care for a patient.

Education requirement: A dermatology nurse practitioner must be a registered nurse licensed for the state in which they work. They must obtain a graduate degree in the field of dermatology. Many must pass the certification examination to become a DCNP.

The easiest and most flexible way to become a dermatology NP is to get your degree as a family or adult nurse practitioner.  While these specialties are certainly not skin focused, they give students an essential primary care foundation they can build upon when becoming more specialized.

Similarly to dermatology-focused NP programs, dermatology residencies for nurse practitioners are nearly non-existent.  The Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts offer the nation’s only dermatology nurse practitioner residency.  While the experience acquired in an NP residency is certainly valuable, prospective derm NPs shouldn’t feel pressure to complete this program.  The majority of dermatology nurse practitioners enter the field with little or no experience learning their skin care skills on the job.
Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 31%
Average Salary: $106,000

1. Nurse Attorney

The University of Delaware

A rare specialty for a driven individual. A nurse attorney is exactly what you might think it is: a nurse who has gone back to school to become an attorney. The job prospects for all attorneys over the next decade is about 10%. Most nursing jobs offer better prospects. But consider this: Since very few attorneys have the medical knowledge of nurses, nurse attorneys are in high demand. Nurse attorneys work in many different settings, including in firms that specialize in social security disability, hospital legal departments, or litigation firms.

Education requirement: To become a nurse attorney, you first need to become a nurse by earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing the licensing exam. You also need to gain some RN nursing experience. When you are ready, then you need to apply and be accepted by a law school, where you will have another three years of school. At the end of that three years, you will have to take the bar exam for the state where you want to practice. After that, you are free to open your own practice, if you wish, or seek to get on board with either a law firm or a healthcare-related company. And watch your salary rise.

The University of Delaware, a Newark-based state school, offers a certificate program that familiarizes RNs with basic legal theory and litigation. Students learn to review case files, evaluate a case’s merits and write legal reports. They also explore topics central to the legal-medical field, such as the influence of legal theory on the medical industry. Prospective students should have three or more years experience as RNs. This program takes about one year to complete. Coursework can cover:

• Role of the legal nurse consultant
• Courtroom preparation
• Medical record review

It should be noted that U. of Delaware is one of three universities offering Casework for nurses in basic legal theory. The other two are Duke and Ohio State University.

Post graduation outlook:

Projected Job Growth by 2020: 10%
Average Salary: $110,000


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