10 Specialized Areas for Nurse Practitioners in 2017

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According to research gathered by Nurse.org, salaries for high-demand registered nurses start around $68,000 annually, with nurse practitioners’ salaries being even greater. Although their advanced skills offer nurse practitioners a rewarding career path with increased opportunities, nursing advocates are currently lobbying the government to allow specialty practitioners to deliver services to the full scope of their abilities nationwide.  The 10 listed specialties are among what leading practitioners are exploring.

Nurse with stethoscope talking to patient in hospital bed

10. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

In the geriatric setting, Gerontological Nurse Practitioners provide diagnoses, exams and — in some jurisdictions — prescriptions for elderly clients. [2] Gerontological specialists typically work for senior care homes, hospice providers or in their own practices, according to nurse specialty research by a public company, Johnson & Johnson.

9. Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner

Oncology Nurse Practitioners treat cancer sufferers and patients at high risk of contracting the disease. The many responsibilities involved in this specialty carry many challenges and rewards. Oncology nurses monitor patients, prescribe medicine, and deliver cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

8. Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP)

Adult Nurse Practitioners deliver services to patients aged 12 and over. This specialty primarily involves delivering preventative wellness education and chronic illness management. Although many advanced nursing candidates are interested in this field, many institutions desire to roll the practice into the gerontological specialty.

7. Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP)

Emergency Nurse Practitioners treat trauma and injury victims. These specialists must quickly identify and resolve potentially lethal health-related problems. ENPs work in many settings and serve patients of all ages.

6. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Family Nurse Practitioners typically serve as a primary care provider and deliver service with physician oversight. These nurses serve patients throughout their life span; diagnosing illnesses, performing routine exams and prescribing medications. Some Family Nurse Practitioners work independently and run their own private offices.

5. Dermatology Nurse Practitioner

Human skin performs important biological functions just like the liver and the kidneys. Dermatology nurses treat skin diseases, injuries, and wounds, providing specialized services, such as cancer screenings, chemical peels, and burn treatments.

4. Sub-Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Sub-Acute Care Nurse Practitioners deliver a service that falls between short-term intensive care and long-term intensive care. While this specialty encompasses all age ranges, most Sub-Acute Care Nurse Practitioners oversee senior patients. Subacute patients require 24-hour supervision and often reside in subacute hospital units or long-term care facilities.

3. Surgical Nurse Practitioner

Formerly, surgical nursing was an entry-level practice before entering a specialty. Today, the skills required to serve in this position make it a differentiated specialty. Surgical nurses represent almost a sixth of all nursing specialists — the largest group of practitioners — and deliver service primarily to adults.

2. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, also called Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, deliver many of the same services as a psychiatrist. They conduct therapy for various conditions, such as anxiety and depression. PNPs also help family members understand and manage patients’ symptoms that are related to mental health.

1. Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse Practitioners deliver services to premature and critically ill newborns and typically work in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). NNPs provide service immediately after birth, typically connecting premature newborns to lifesaving technologies. These may include breathing apparatus and intravenous feeding systems, which help to incubate the patients until their conditions improve. Under physician guidance, NNPs also provide ongoing infant care and educate new mothers about child care.

In the league with the APRN Consensus Model from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, some states have adjusted their regulations to allow nurse specialists to practice independently of physicians. The organization promotes nationally standardized credentialing that will allow advanced practice nurses to deliver full service within their capabilities in any state.

Indeed, state credentialing standards might change in as little as two to three years. The new certification model opens up new career possibilities for advanced nursing practitioners. Currently, there are several agencies that certify nursing specialists, according to NONPF, the public interest health care organization. They are the:

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Program
  • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing Specialties
  • Pediatric Nursing Certification Board

In the future, nursing advocates will likely earn governmental concession for the proposed universal credentialing model, which is currently under review in most states.

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Recommended Readings

Ohio University blog, “8 TED Talks for Nurse Practitioners”
Ohio University Blog, “6 reasons of becoming a nurse practitioner”


Nurse.org, “15 Highest Paying Nursing Careers”
Johnson+Johnson Nursing, “Nursing Specialities”
NONPF.org, “Nurse Practitioner Certifying Bodies”