While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an intense demand for many kinds of nurses this need is likely to remain long after the virus’ impacts diminish. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the country’s nurse shortage should intensify as aging baby boomers require additional healthcare services.
Read on for an overview of five nursing specialties in demand right now.
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1. Critical Care Nurse
Critical care nurses treat patients suffering from life-threatening conditions. They must master a variety of medical skills to care for patients with severe illnesses or injuries and evaluate medical interventions for potential risks.
These nurses often specialize in an area like pediatrics, cardiology, or oncology, or focus on treating a particular demographic. Critical care nurses generally work in fast-paced environments such as intensive care units (ICUs), pediatric ICUs, cardiac care units, and emergency departments.
An aging population has led to a growing demand for critical care nurses who specialize in working with elderly patients. According to September 2021 data from PayScale, critical care nurses enjoy an average annual salary of $76,600.
2. Certified Nurse Midwife
Nurse midwives provide gynecological exams, family planning services, and prenatal care. They help deliver babies and assist with cesarean sections. They may also educate patients on nutrition, disease prevention, and sexual or reproductive health issues.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse midwives earn a mean annual wage of $115,400. The BLS also projects an 11% job growth rate for nurse midwives through 2030 as more individuals become aware of the position and large numbers of current nurses retire.
3. Certified Dialysis Nurse
Certified dialysis nurses specialize in nephrology, or diseases of the kidney. They use dialysis machines to reproduce kidney function and combat chronic and acute renal failure. They monitor patients who are on dialysis, administer medication, and teach patients and families to manage kidney disease.
Dialysis nurses mainly focus on cases that involve renal failure, transplants, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. They communicate with nephrology physicians regarding any changes in patients’ status.
In a 2021 report, the Center for Disease Control found that around 1 in 7 adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic kidney disease, with 38% of these being over 65. The demand for dialysis nurses is expected to grow in the coming decade. Current specialists earn an average annual salary of $74,100, according to PayScale data from September 2021.
4. Operating Room Nurse
Operating room nurses specialize in the popular surgical nursing field. These nurses care for patients before, during, and after surgery. They prepare the patient and the operating room for surgical procedures, assist during the surgery itself, and monitor the patient’s recovery.
According to the Association for periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), a 2018 survey found that hospital directors, nurse managers, and administrators reported an overall increase in the number of surgical procedures at their facilities. As a result, 33% of responding operating room managers increased their staff to meet the demand.
AORN predicts a 2% annual job growth rate for operating room nurses. PayScale data from 2021 shows that these specialists earn an annual average salary of $74,000.
5. Nurse Case Manager
Nurse case managers collaborate with professionals in and outside of the medical community to develop long-term patient care plans. Often working within a specialty like pediatrics or oncology, case managers tailor care plans to help patients manage illnesses and injuries.
Typically, nurse case managers teach patients about their treatment options, provide emotional support, and collaborate with social workers. They may develop, implement, and evaluate a patient’s entire treatment plan.
Increasingly, healthcare facilities hire nurse case managers to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. Enhanced treatments are allowing patients with chronic health conditions to live longer, raising the demand for case managers. On average, nurse case managers earn an average annual salary of $74,100, according to PayScale data from September 2021.