Longtime professionals working in the nursing field have witnessed unimaginable changes during their careers.  They have watched nursing transform from a secretarial role to one where nurses practice autonomously and collaborate with specialty medical professionals. Today’s nurses directly contribute to the welfare of patients and their families. Some veteran nurses describe this transition with words such as positively challenging, fulfilling, and remarkable.
Training and education can open up a world of opportunity for prospective and practicing nurses. They might work with various interests such as community organizations, lawmakers, or national organizations. Some advanced practice nurses even go on to teach students the time-honored profession of nursing.
Advanced Practice Nursing
While some advanced practice nurses work under the supervision of a physician, others deliver services with full autonomy. These specialists typically practice within one of several disciplines. For example, nurse practitioners may treat patients with distinct age characteristics, genders, or health conditions. They perform duties such as:
● Conducting regular checkups
● Diagnosing illnesses
● Ordering laboratory testing
● Prescribing medications
● Providing counseling for patients
All nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). To advance toward a specialty, an advanced practice nurse will then pursue postgraduate training and relevant clinical experience. The following five specialties highlight a few popular career tracks for contemporary nursing professionals.
1. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric nurse practitioners treat patients ranging in age from birth to just before adulthood.  They use advanced medical training to deliver health care services and fulfill many of the same duties as a pediatric physician. Like many other advance practice nurses, pediatric nurses might work independently or with a supervising primary care provider.
These specialists perform duties such as ordering diagnostic tests to evaluate possible health conditions. In states that allow advanced practice nurses to prescribe medicine, once the laboratory returns the results, the pediatric nurse would perform this service. Pediatric nurses also perform annual physical evaluations and advise patients and their families on how to maintain their health.
2. Family Nurse Practitioner
Family nurse practitioners help consumers maintain all aspects of their general health.  They use evidence-based guidelines to perform various health related tasks such as:
● Educating consumers about health topics
● Encouraging healthy habits
● Identifying community wellness threats
● Promoting healthy development
● Screening for illnesses
Family practitioners maintain an ongoing record of each client’s medical information. The care providers also assess environmental and personal influences that contribute to or detract from wellness such as:
● Cognitive disabilities
● Developmental obstacles
● Living conditions
● Reproductive health
● Substance abuse
As such, a family care provider will perform assessments to determine consumers’ physical and mental conditions. In addition, the practitioners will identify environmental threats that could lead to unhealthy conditions for particular patients. More importantly, local family practice nurses analyze community conditions to determine how certain settings may influence consumers’ health.
3. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners treat individuals and varying populations by monitoring and maintaining their mental wellness.  After assessing consumers’ mental health, the specialists develop customized treatment plans to serve patients’ wellness needs. In some settings, psychiatric mental health NPs serve as primary care providers, diagnosing and treating individuals and families with therapy and prescriptions.
Psychiatric mental health NPs might operate private practices and consult with community organizations, corporations, individuals, and lawmakers. These practitioners may work in subspecialties treating specific clientele such as juveniles or substance abusers. Others may not visit with patients at all, working purely in consulting capacities.
4. Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Women’s health nurse practitioners specialize in treating female consumers.  Female patients might visit with several care providers before receiving a referral to visit a women’s health nurse practitioner. The nurses provide treatment for issues that are specific to women such as gender specific wellness, prenatal care, and postpartum care. They treat women throughout their lifespans, focusing mainly on reproductive and gynecologic health. Some practitioners may specialize in multiple services such as women’s mental health, wellness education, and medical expense management.
Women’s health nurse practitioners also promote wellness through advocacy, civic participation, and clinical practice. On some occasions, these specialists also treat men who are afflicted with reproductive issues.
5. Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
Adult-Geriatric nurse practitioners assess the health of senior consumers specifically as it applies to older physiologies.  They apply the latest empirically proven best practices to promote wellness among the senior population. Adult-Geriatric NPs analyze the relationship between the typical human anatomy and how aging affects the body. These specialists also determine the health statuses of senior patients and how they feel about their current life stage.
Adult-Geriatric NPs evaluate internal and external influences that might affect a senior patient. Internal influences may include health habits, while external influences could include workplaces or familial support or abuse. Part of this process involves establishing patients’ medical backgrounds and associating how aging has influenced them. After gathering these combined data, the nurse specialist will develop customized treatment plans to maintain or improve clients’ wellness.
Advanced practice nurses may find that their interest in specialties changes over time.  Alternatively, nurse practitioners could enjoy a particular field throughout their career, but seek to provide services in a different way, such as shifting focus from clinical practice to legislative reform. Despite the career path that an advanced practice nurse chooses, consumers will continue to require their specialized services, and these professionals will always find that a world of opportunity is available due to the profession that they have selected.
Providing medical services takes skill. Serving more than half of the U.S. population takes specialized expertise. That’s where the online Master of Science in Nursing – Women’s Health Nursing Practice makes its mark. With this degree, you can learn to treat women’s specialized health needs across their life cycle.