From Neonatal to Geriatric – Which Nursing Path Suits You Best?

From Neonatal to Geriatric – Which Nursing Path Suits You Best?

If you’re a recently qualified nursing graduate, you’re likely now trying to decide on the next step in your nursing career! The best news? As a registered nurse, the career prospects available to you are both abundant and varied.

Perhaps most importantly, you are not limited to just one career path as a nurse. In fact, you can actually specialize in a wide variety of different areas to discover the nursing career path that suits you best. So, for our guide to the different job opportunities that are available to you as a nurse, just keep reading!

From neonatal to geriatric - which nursing path suits you best
Fig: From neonatal to geriatric – which nursing path suits you best

Nursing Career Path Option 1: Become a Neonatal Nurse

For registered nurses with a particular interest in assisting with nursing, treating, and caring for newborn infants, it makes perfect sense to become a neonatal nurse. But what exactly does a neonatal nurse do, and how does this specialized role differ from that of a registered nurse in a standard hospital ward?

Importantly, neonatal nurses are usually employed by a NICU, or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In a NICU, a neonatal nurse will be responsible for providing expert care and treatment to newborn babies and their parents. Often, the infants who are cared for in a NICU are either sick, weak or have been born prematurely. As such, these infants need a higher level of care than other babies! A neonatal nurse employed by a NICU, then, will be required to closely monitor the health, well-being and status of the sick or premature infant, and to deliver intensive medical care when needed. Of course, a neonatal nurse is not always employed by a NICU. Often, they will also be required to care for parents and babies in a standard hospital maternity ward.

Nursing Career Path Option 2: Become an Oncology Nurse

Another nursing career path option for nursing graduates is to become an oncology nurse. So, what is an oncology nurse? Essentially, oncology nurses specialize in the care and treatment of cancer patients. Needless to say, this is both essential and challenging work! As such, an oncology nurse needs to be able to treat their cancer patients and their families with respect, compassion and care. Like any patient, cancer patients need to be made to feel as comfortable as possible during their treatment, and their hospital stay. For this reason, oncology nurses are known to be some of the most compassionate, dedicated and caring medical professionals around.

An oncology nurse will usually be tasked with duties such as administering chemotherapy treatments to cancer patients, assessing for any complications that may arise during treatment, as well as tracking diagnostic testing results,  and assisting patients with symptom management. Oncology nurses are also often required to provide emotional support, empathy, and personalized care to terminally ill cancer patients and their families.

Nursing Career Path Option 3: Become a Geriatric Nurse

As a geriatric nurse, the nursing professional is responsible for delivering care and treatment to elderly patients. This is an essential role in terms of aged care in the community.

Of course, the role of a geriatric nurse can also be challenging. It requires the nursing professional to care for both the physical and mental health of older patients – including caring for their existing illnesses and ailments, and also, assessing their cognitive abilities. A geriatric nurse will also often be tasked with educating elderly patients on how to avoid falls and injuries (which can become increasingly common as a patient ages). They may also be required to assist geriatric patients with grooming, bathing, and other daily personal hygiene tasks.

Nursing Career Path Option 4: Become a Surgical Nurse

For ambitious nursing graduates, you could also aspire to pursue a nursing career path as a surgical nurse. But, what does a surgical nurse do? And how does this particular role differ from other career pathways in nursing?

Perhaps quite unsurprisingly, a surgical nurse will mainly be tasked with assisting with performing surgical procedures within a surgical theatre. Often referred to as the ‘backbone’ of a surgical team, a surgical nurse plays an essential part in the safe, effective and efficient delivery of any surgical procedure. As such, a surgical nurse will be responsible for preparing the patient for surgery, as well as monitoring their status throughout the surgical procedure. They will also be tasked with surgical patient aftercare. In this way, a surgical nurse is present throughout almost every step of a patient’s surgical journey – from prepping the patient to supporting and assisting during the procedure to caring for the patient after they are removed from the surgical theatre.

Other Nursing Career Path Options: More Job Prospects for Nurses

As a nursing graduate, if you happen to decide that the specializations listed above are not the nursing career paths you would like to pursue, there are also other options available to you.

For example, you could choose to become a Registered Nurse (or RN) who is employed in an emergency ward, for instance. Of course, to be able to pursue this nursing career path, you still need to obtain a tertiary qualification in nursing. However, you will not be required to complete further studies in an area of specialization such as neonatal, geriatric or oncology nursing, for example.

For particularly ambitious and gifted nursing staff, you could even aspire to reach the ranks of hospital ward manager. Of course, with this level of responsibility comes greater pressure, so it is essential that the individual aspiring to become a hospital ward manager is calm, level-headed, and can work well under pressure.

If you have recently graduated with your qualification in nursing, the great news is that there will now be many career options at your fingertips!

From becoming a neonatal nurse to pursuing oncology nursing, to being a geriatric nurse, a surgical nurse, or even, just a standard registered nurse, this is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding and varied professions there is. The hardest part? Choosing which area you’d like to specialize in! Our top top – follow your passion. Chances are, this will almost always lead you down the nursing career path that is best suited to you.

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