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Nursing Careers: Practice Settings to Consider

Staffing is one of the top issues you’ll face in your nursing career.

Nursing is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S., with over 400,000 new positions for RNs predicted to become available between 2016 and 2026.* But not all nursing careers are the same. In the modern healthcare industry, nurses can find positions in a wide-variety of settings, doing a wide-variety of tasks.

If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse—or want to advance your nursing career—you should consider what practice settings might be best for you. That way, you can choose the best nursing school and nursing degree for your goals. Here are a few of the settings where today’s nurses work.

Nursing Careers: Practice Settings to Consider

Acute Care
Commonly referred to as urgent care, acute care is one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. healthcare. Acute care clinics treat non-life-threatening injuries, non-chronic illnesses, and other health matters that require urgent attention but not hospital facilities.

Community Health
Community health services are provided in permanent clinics, mobile clinics, and temporary clinics set up in schools or in other public buildings. These clinics provide free or low-cost care to underserved members of the community who would otherwise go without care.

Critical Care/Emergency Care
Typically known as an ER, critical/emergency care settings treat severe injuries and ailments that can result in death if not treated promptly.

Focused on the medical care of the elderly, gerontology practices are often set in primary-care style clinics.

Informatics departments analyze the data contained in electronic health records (EHRs) to improve efficiencies and patient outcomes. With over 95% of hospitals now using EHRs, nursing informatics has become a growing specialty.

Intensive Care
Known as ICUs, intensive care settings provide highly attentive, around-the-clock care for medically unstable patients recovering from severe injury or suffering from life-threatening ailments.

;Long-Term Care/Rehabilitation
Facilities for long-term care and rehabilitation help those whose ailments, injuries, mental status, or age makes it difficult for them to care for themselves. Unlike in ICUs, patients in long-term/rehabilitation settings are medically stable.

Out-patient surgical centers and surgical wards of hospitals treat patients in need of or electing to have surgical procedures.

Focused on the medical care of children, pediatric practices are often set in primary-care style clinics.

A subset of most surgical facilities, perioperative settings guide patients through preoperative, interoperative, and postoperative care, working to ensure positive health outcomes.

Primary Care
Providing preventative care, treatment for chronic and temporary ailments, minor medical procedures, and some acute care, primary care clinics are the backbone of the health system.

Public Health
Public health departments and public health nonprofits develop, implement, and manage public health programs, policies, and initiatives designed to keep communities healthier.

Nurses in the health technology field travel to clinics and hospitals to train others in the use of new medical equipment.

Women’s Health
Focused on the medical care of women, women’s health practices are often set in primary-care style clinics. Nurses working in obstetrics (OB)—a subset of women’s health focused on the female reproductive system—work in clinics and in the labor and delivery wards at hospitals.

How to Become a Nurse With Plenty of Career Options

Thanks to online education, it’s more convenient than ever before to earn the nursing degree you need for the career you want. The best online nursing schools offer the most in-demand degrees, allowing you to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

When you choose to earn a nursing degree online, you complete the majority of your coursework from home, rather than a college classroom. Plus, an online nursing degree program offers significant flexibility, allowing you to focus on your studies at the time of day that’s best for you.

At a top online university, you’ll find online BSN programs and online MSN programs. If you’ve already completed an RN program, you can choose to enroll in an RN to BSN online program or an RN to MSN online program. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you might choose to enroll in a master’s in nursing program. Choosing between RN to BSN, RN to MSN, and the standard MSN program requires you to take into consideration your current level of education, what type of nursing career you want to pursue and in which type of nursing setting you would most like to work.

There are a wide number of nursing careers available. Through online learning, you can earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing and put yourself in position to reach all your career goals.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing degree program online and an RN to BSN Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program online. Walden is also the leading provider of advanced nursing degrees in the U.S., producing more MSN graduates than any other university.§ Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet at

†J. Creswell, Race Is On to Profit From Rise of Urgent Care, The New York Times, on the internet at

‡J. Conn, Hospitals achieve 96% EHR adoption rate; data exchange still needs work. Modern Healthcare, on the internet at

§Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Retrieved July 2017, using CIP codes 51.3801 (Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse); 51.3808 (Nursing Science); 51.3818 (Nursing Practice). Includes 2016 preliminary data.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,