Understanding Various Types of Nurses in Healthcare

Numerous types of nurses provide services to the public, government, and healthcare sectors.

It includes nursing careers in bedside care, education, research, writing, legal consulting, mental health, and entrepreneurship.

To ensure proper training and expertise, nurses must receive further education at advanced career levels and positions.

I’ll explore careers based on education level and training to understand different nursing professions better.

That way, you understand how various nurses impact the healthcare system.

Then I’ll cover popular nursing careers inside and outside bedside care based on interest, specialization, and income goals.

The Various Types of Nurses Based on Education Level

Nurses provide different levels of medical care depending on their education and training.

Accordingly, nurses’ education determines their scope of practice, defining what they do inside and outside patient care. 

Nurses’ most common career titles include CNA, LPN, RN, and APRN.

Each education level advances a nurse’s scope of practice allowing for more diverse career opportunities, higher pay, and advanced care.

Certified Nurse Assistant | CNA

A CNA or certified nurse assistant provides limited bedside care.

These medical professionals perform tasks like dressing, bathing, and cleaning patients who cannot independently complete those tasks.

They also feed patients, monitor and report abnormal behaviors, maintain a clean/sanitary environment, and handle other essential tasks.

Finally, CNAs typically work under the supervision of registered nurses or other higher-level medical professionals.

It takes approximately four to twelve weeks for most individuals to become CNAs.

As a result, they enter the healthcare profession quickly to assist registered nurses and provide essential bedside care to patients.

Licensed Practical Nurse | LPN

An LPN or licensed practical nurse provides standard bedside care to patients with medical/health conditions.

For instance, LPNs manage all the same functions as CNAs but have additional responsibilities due to their advanced training.

It includes assisting patients/residents with daily tasks, reporting abnormal behaviors, and ensuring a clean/sanitary workplace.

However, these medical professionals also collect samples, administer medications, and provide more advanced care than CNAs.

Finally, some LPNs supervise CNAs to ensure they follow proper medical procedures and guidelines.

It takes roughly twelve to eighteen months for most people to become an LPN.

Accordingly, LPNs require more advanced training than CNAs but earn more money and have a broader scope of practice than CNAs.

LPNs and CNAs are essential to ensure proper patient care within the healthcare system.

It enables registered nurses to focus on more advanced care by managing essential but less extensive patient duties.

As a result, they’re vital to maintaining patient health standards and ensuring everyone receives timely and personalized care.

Registered Nurse | RN

An RN or registered nurse is a medical professional who earned an associate’s or bachelor’s in nursing and passed the NCLEX-RN exam.

Registered nurses perform a wide range of healthcare duties to assess, manage and improve patient health.

The following section includes typical responsibilities registered nurses perform daily.

Registered Nurse Duties

  • Assess the patient’s medical condition (observe and interpret symptoms)
  • Evaluate patients throughout the rehabilitation
  • Administer medications and treatments
  • Educate patients about injuries, illnesses, and ailments
  • Collaborate with nurses and doctors/physicians to develop patient care plans
  • Update medical records and documentation
  • Supervise LPNs, CNAs, and nursing assistants
  • Assist patients in the ICU, ED, critical care, trauma unit, and other sensitive environments.
  • Feed, bathe, and clean patients 
  • Remove Stitches

And many other healthcare-related responsibilities.

Overall, there are more than one hundred unique careers for registered nurses who want to specialize in specific areas.

For instance, registered nurses specialize in ER/critical care, labor and delivery, pediatric care, NICU, geriatrics, and rehabilitation.

However, some registered nurses select professions outside of bedside care or hospital settings to advance healthcare.

It includes education, mental health, telehealth services, research, administration, aesthetics, and entrepreneurship, to name a few.

CNAs and LPNs serious about providing high-level care will want to pursue higher education and become registered nurses.

There are many diverse career paths and reasonable scope of practice for nurses to hone their discipline at this level.

Moreover, numerous registered nurses operate outside bedside care in other healthcare sectors.

It typically takes 2 – 5 years to become a registered nurse depending on the degree, starting education level, and prerequisite completion.

That said, LPN to RN programs help LPNs transition aspiring nurses more quickly into the registered nursing profession.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse | APRN

An APRN or advanced practice registered nurse is a nurse who’s earned an MSN or DNP degree.

These medical professionals have the highest level of education and the broadest scope of practice in nursing.

As a result, they’re able to pursue almost any career in the nursing profession and provide high-level patent care.

For instance, some APRNs pursue careers in diverse nurse practitioner specializations. 

It allows them to diagnose medical conditions, prescribe medications, and act as primary care providers.

Some nurse practitioners also open, operate, and own clinics to provide alternative options for patients to receive essential healthcare.

Alternatively, some APRNs work as clinical nurse specialists or anesthetists to provide alternative patient care.

Overall, there are four career specializations for advanced practice registered nurses.

It includes certified registered nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwife, and certified nurse practitioners.

Each profession requires years of education and training to become proficient and licensed.

However, due to their dedication, these medical professionals earn significant incomes, reputations, and career opportunities.

Many APRNs earn six-figure incomes, and nurse anesthetists are among the highest-paying professions in the medical field.

Popular Nurse Specialties

There are over one hundred careers for nurses interested in working in the medical field.

However, some professions are more popular due to income potential, career advancement opportunities, and occupational interests.

As a result, this list comprises popular nursing careers to provide a resource for those curious about various nursing professions.

Most careers focus on registered nurses rather than CNAs or LPNs due to the broad scope of jobs available to RNs.

There are also advanced practice registered nurse occupations because these specialists have the most comprehensive scope of practice.

Popular Careers in Nursing

  1. registered nurse
  2. Pediatric nurse
  3. Nurse practitioner
  4. Oncology nurse
  5. Emergency room nurse
  6. Clinical nurse specialist
  7. Nurse case manager
  8. Intensive care unit nurse (ICU nurse)
  9. Nurse educator
  10. Travel Nurse
  11. Public health nurse
  12. Informatics nurse
  13. Certified registered nurse anesthetist
  14. Nurse advocate
  15. Nurse educator
  16. Psychiatric mental health nurse
  17. Pediatric nurse
  18. Geriatric nurse
  19. Acute care nurse
  20. Nurse midwife

Many specialties offer excellent income opportunities, career advancement, and personal satisfaction for aspiring nurses.

However, psychiatric mental health nurses, nurse anesthetists, family nurse practitioners, and nurse-midwives earn some of the highest salaries in the nursing profession.

For instance, many nurses in these occupations earn six-figure salaries, with some nurse anesthetists making over $200,000 annually.

Each career offers distinct responsibilities that leverage nurses’ expertise, training, passions, and proficiencies.

As a result, it allows healthcare specialists to pick careers that match their interests and knowledge.

It also ensures these healthcare specialists remain challenged and regarded for their hard work.

For many nurses, income is only a tiny part of why they choose to pursue healthcare.

Most nurses began their journey to improve the lives of others and make positive changes in the world.

Nevertheless, discussing the opportunities available to hard-working nurses, including income opportunities, is essential.

Finally, some RNs earn six-figure incomes by operating in high-paying states, taking on special assignments, and working overtime.

Non-Bedside Jobs for Nurses

There are many non-bedside jobs for nurses outside of patient-focused work settings.

For instance, some nurses work in research, legal consulting, education, infection control, informatics, writing, and entrepreneurship.

However, numerous other professions accommodate nurses who want to operate in alternative fields.

Each discipline provides opportunities to impact the healthcare profession beyond direct patient care.

Moreover, these professions allow nurses to pick a domain they are passionate about if they no longer want to pursue bedside nursing.


Research nurses analyze, develop, and execute studies to explore new and current medications, vaccines, and medical procedures.

They also examine medical equipment and study diseases and treatments via clinical trials, journals, case studies, and other explorations.

Based on the new information, research nurses determine how to implement the data into medical practice if it’s beneficial.

Accordingly, research nurses improve patient care and ensure medical professionals follow best practices by assisting with evidence-based research.

As a result, these medical professionals play a significant role in advancing healthcare and providing life-saving medical treatments.


Nurse entrepreneurs advance healthcare by providing services to patients, medical staff, healthcare systems, and organizations.

For instance, some nurse entrepreneurs create high-quality clothing making medical professionals feel great and comfortable at work.

Other entrepreneurs develop helpful products like medical gear, tools, and accessories to accommodate specific work needs.

Some entrepreneurs design and implement various software systems and technologies. Accordingly, it enhances hiring processes, improves communication systems, and advances record-keeping and medical equipment.

Those who become nurse entrepreneurs have many opportunities and disciples to pursue.

Here are a few business ideas for nurse entrepreneurs who want to become their bosses and improve healthcare.

Business Ideas for Nurse Entrepreneurs

  • Create and sell medical-related products
  • Develop healthcare/communications software
  • Invent new medical technologies
  • Provide legal consulting
  • Design and develop education programs
  • Provide wellness health coach/fitness services
  • Establish informative websites/blogs

Those who become entrepreneurs must be creative, hard-working, focused, disciplined, and knowledge-hungry.

However, nurse entrepreneurs have numerous opportunities to make a lot of money and significantly improve healthcare.

Legal Consulting

Legal nurse consultants provide consulting services to assist lawyers/attorneys with medical-related legal cases.

These professionals review medical documents, simplify complex medical terminology, find expert witnesses, and research case data.

They also provide attorneys with written reviews, interview eyewitnesses, and deliver evidence to judges as expert witnesses.

Numerous nurses pursue legal consulting because it allows them to utilize their knowledge and skills to solve medical-related claims.

For instance, legal nurse consultants help determine the validity of claims related to:

  • medical malpractice
  • insurance fraud
  • wrongful death 
  • personal injury claims
  • criminal defense cases
  • and other matters

Besides, this profession allows nurses to follow an alternative career route rather than operating in bedside nursing.

Many nurses have stated that legal nurse consulting renewed their love of the nursing profession.

Although bedside care is rewarding, it’s also exhausting, and some nurses seek additional career opportunities that utilize their talents.

Some legal nurses work from home, giving them more flexibility and autonomy over their lifestyle.


Nurses have numerous education-based opportunities to educate students/medical professionals, the public, and the government.

For instance, some nurses work in different positions as educators for colleges/universities.

It includes nurse educators, nursing curriculum coordinators, and clinical competency coordinators, among other vocations.

There are also nurse educators who educate the public and government sectors.

It includes education about nutrition, safety, disease, mental/physical health, and healthcare services.

Finally, some nurse educators advocate for other nurses and medical professionals.

These experts promote better education and work systems to ensure healthcare workers receive adequate training and care.

They also assist medical staff and students who need direction/guidance, and support.

Nurse Educator Careers Include:

  • Adjunct clinical nurse
  • Lecturer
  • Nurse educator
  • Nursing instructor
  • Nurse researcher
  • Nurse administrator
  • Nursing curriculum coordinator
  • Nursing education consultant
  • Public health nurse educator
  • Nursing professional development specialist
  • Clinical competency coordinator
  • Nurse Tutor
  • Community educator for government agencies

And numerous other education-based careers.

Nurse educators ensure medical professionals, the public, and the government receives adequate training, support, and healthcare.

As a result, they help prevent disease, promote safety, improve mental/physical health, and advance the healthcare industry.

Nurse Practitioner

An NP or Nurse practitioner provides comprehensive medical services to individuals who require healthcare assistance.

For instance, nurse practitioners assess, monitor, and diagnose medical conditions within their scope of practice.

As a result, they provide care plans and treatments to help patients recover from injuries, diseases, and ailments. 

Nurse practitioners also prescribe medications and act as primary care providers depending on state regulations.

Thus, NPs can supply alternative care for underserved locations, especially where physicians aren’t available.

Nurse practitioners may operate independently, alongside doctors, or under a physician’s supervision.

Moreover, there are numerous occupations for nurse practitioners.

It includes psychiatric mental health, pediatrics, neonatal care, family care, adult gerontology, and women’s health.

Therefore, aspiring nurse practitioners must determine their specialty because each profession requires specific training and education.

Depending on their current degree and desired specialization, it takes 2 – 10 years to become a nurse practitioner.

Medical Writing 

Medical writers provide healthcare-focused information to websites, journals, publications, documents, media relations, educators, and digital platforms.

It requires reviewing clinical trials, exploring medical technology, marketing, and educating healthcare professionals and the public. 

Medical writers also write proposals to fund research, develop medical applications, and provide copywriting/editing services.

Besides that, these professionals work under various titles with specific responsibilities depending on their profession.

For instance, they work as writers, editors, media relations specialists, project managers, journalists, supervisors, and educators.

Medical writing is an excellent profession for educated nurses who enjoy writing and prefer to work outside bedside care.

Moreover, it allows many nurses to work from home or commute occasionally compared to jobs requiring daily commuting.