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Understanding the Many Types of Nurses and the Care They're Able to Provide

Understanding the Many Types of Nurses and the Care They’re Able to Provide

Understanding the Many Types of Nurses and the Care They're Able to Provide

When people hear nurse, their mind typically jumps to bedside nursing. And while this is a noble, common manifestation of the profession, it’s also just the tip of the iceberg. There are many different types of nurses, each providing a unique kind of care and expertise.

Understanding the Many Types of Nurses and the Care They're Able to Provide

Understanding the different types of nurses can help you make important career choices, or simply just understand the healthcare system better. In this article, we take a look at several of the many different types of nurses and describe what they do on the job. 

In-Patient Versus Outpatient Nursing

Most people will have interactions with in-patient nurses at some point in their life. If you are ever admitted to the hospital, this is the person who will take care of you. They perform a wide range of duties, including performing tests and helping to ensure your comfort. 

Out-patient nurses often work in the hospital setting as well, but with patients that don’t need to be admitted. For example, if you are getting ongoing blood work, or if you find yourself in the emergency room, you will probably be involved in outpatient care. The hospital treats you and then sends you home that same day. 

However, there are situations in which outpatient nurses may travel to the patient’s house. This is typically done in situations where the patient would not otherwise be able to access care. 

School Nurse

School nursing is often a frequent first job for newly minted nurses. School nurses work in educational environments to assess student health and provide basic care to people who are deemed to need it throughout the school day. 

Nutrition Nurse

You can hire a nutrition nurse if you are trying to optimize your food intake to achieve a specific health goal (weight loss, lower blood pressure, better overall nutrition, etc). Nutrition nurses can help their patients come up with food plans, and monitor their progress with said food plans over time. 

Sometimes nutrition nurses are brought in after a specific incident. For example, if a person has a cardiac event, they may be referred to a nutrition nurse as a way of helping them make the lifestyle changes required for continued health. 

In other situations, people may hire nutrition nurses to help them meet their own goals. 

Nurse Educators

Nurse educators work in schools, teaching the next generation of nurses. They usually will have several years of experience on the job, and will most likely need to at least have a master’s degree to be eligible for the job.

Because they have real-life experience, they are well-positioned to guide students through the hands-on elements of nursing education. 

Hospice Nurse

Hospice nurses are brought in toward the end of life to help improve the patient’s comfort level. Once hospice begins, most patients are no longer looking for a cure for their condition. Instead, the hospice nurse works to reduce pain and help the patient achieve at least some degree of normalcy with their eating and sleeping habits. 

Hospice nurses continue to advocate for their patients right up until the end, modifying their care as much as possible to suit their needs while also working with their families to facilitate visits and ensure that the patient’s final wishes are being honored. 

Informatics Nurses

Informatics nursing is a relatively recent development that combines the responsibilities of a hospital nurse with those of a data analyst. Informatics nurses may look both at individual patient data, and analytics for an entire community to help improve the hospital’s ability to provide high-quality care. 

In addition to getting an RN certification, informatics nurses also need to be licensed specifically for data analysis. Because this is a relatively new profession, not all regions of the country have access to informatics nurses. 

Nurse Ethicist

Nurse ethicists work to advise hospitals on policies relating to healthcare ethics. They may also be brought in to advise in situations where the ethics of a choice made at the hospital are in question. They may work directly with other nurses to educate and remind them about the ethical elements of their job.

You may interact with a nurse ethicist as a layperson if your loved one is unable to make medical decisions for themselves. When a decision needs to be made about withdrawing life support, nurse ethicists are brought in to work with members to make the best possible decision. 

Homecare Nurses

Homecare nurses provide patients who can no longer take care of themselves with long-term care. If you come to the conclusion that an aged family member can no longer live on their own, you may look for the services of a home care nurse. 

That said, there are various forms of ongoing care. In certain cases, when the person requiring care is in good health, they may just need someone to help them with a simple task. Running errands. Performing light housework. Helping them with personal hygiene, etc. 

These tasks do not require the services of a home care nurse. However, if the patient has extenuating health conditions that require constant supervision the services of a home care nurse may be required. 

Flight Nurse

Flight nurses work out of airplanes, providing care in situations where someone becomes sick on a plane, or when they need to be transported by air to another hospital. They may perform the same duties as an ER nurse, but within a very unique environment that takes years of experience to master. 

Flight nurses usually need to have at least several years of experience on the job. They are also required to get a special certification to be eligible for the job. 


Navigating the healthcare system on your own is hard. If you are trying to secure care for yourself or someone that you care about, it helps to know what questions to ask. Above we have described some of the many different types of nursing jobs out there. However, there are many other types of nursing as well. 

To secure the right kind of care, begin by researching the symptoms or conditions that need treatment. From there, it is easier to find the appropriate specialties. 

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