Spotlighting high-demand specialties during National Nurses Week.
Florence Nightingale established nursing as a profession during the 1850s.
Her achievements - and those of America's 2.5 million nurses - are celebrated during National Nurses Week, which begins on May 6 with RN Recognition Day and ends on May 12, Nightingale's birthday.
This year's theme, "Nurses: Building a Healthy America," reflects the commitment of nurses to caring for patients and the community.
This commitment is reflected in many of today's high-demand nursing specialties. Here's a selection:
Geriatric nursing. By 2020, nearly one out of six of Americans will be age 65 or older - and that proportion will continue to rise for decades. Although some elders will need long-term 24-hour care, the majority will be cared for in the community. Nurses - especially nurse practitioners - will be needed to work with community-based elders as case managers, monitoring clinical needs and coordinating services.
Critical care. Because hospitalized patients are sicker today than in the past, critical-care nurses are needed in all areas of care. This includes adult and pediatric ICUs; cardiac, telemetry and progressive care units; cardiac catheter labs; emergency departments; and recovery rooms. Critical-care nurses also work in home healthcare, outpatient surgery centers and clinics.
Nursing informatics. This specialty combines information and decision sciences, computer science, systems engineering and related technologies to process and manage information. The goal of informatics is to get the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make decisions that will improve healthcare.
Nursing education. Nurse educators are needed to prepare future generations of nurses. Nursing programs at all levels are currently turning away thousands of qualified applicants due to a shortage of faculty. Nurse educators need an advanced degree - preferably a traditional doctorate (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP).
Nancy Giguere is a freelance wrtier from St. Paul who has written about healthcare since 1995.