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20 Best Nursing Specialties

20 Best Nursing Specialties

If you’re an RN, you’ve received a generalist nursing education and have likely been gaining general experience with various types of medical issues in your career. However, as time passes and you learn new skills and get exposed to different ailments and patients, you may realize you’d like to hone in on specific specialties of nursing.

There are numerous nursing specialties in Canada and practice areas that RNs can work in - anything from pediatrics to emergency care. If you’re curious about these and aren’t yet sure what piques your interest most, take a look at these 20 nursing specialties and their average nursing salaries*.

*Salaries are average figures based on the time of writing, as reported by Neuvoo. If you're looking for a new nursing job check out our nursing job board where you can search by keyword or location. New jobs get posted daily!

1. Cardiovascular Nurse

Cardiovascular nurses care for adult patients with acute cardiovascular problems. They are knowledgeable about the anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular system, arrhythmia interpretations, assessment skills, advanced cardiac monitoring, and client care including prevention, management and rehabilitation.

Average salary: $81,670

2. Community Health Nurse

Community Health nurses support the health and well-being of individuals, families, groups, communities, populations and systems. These nurses are employed by government agencies and hospitals to work in health centres, homes, schools, and other community-based settings. They design and implement health plans and campaigns for the surrounding communities and populations.

Average salary: $80,126

3. Critical Care Pediatric Nurse 

Critical Care Pediatric nurses work with children in pediatric hospitals or wings of hospitals to monitor, care for, and inform patients and their families on procedure status. These nurses perform life-saving interventions and use crisis management techniques.

Average salary: $81,670

4. Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses treat critically ill or unstable patients with acute or life-threatening injuries or medical issues. These nurses are based in hospital units or critical care floors, including intensive care and trauma units.

Average salary: $80,126

5. Emergency Nurse 

Emergency nurses work in various settings, such as emergency departments, military settings, and ambulatory care centres. Their tasks include triage and prioritization, stabilization and resuscitation, assessment, nursing diagnosis, treatment planning, implementation, and evaluation with limited information in uncontrolled or unpredictable situations, crisis intervention, and emergency operations preparedness.

Average salary: $80,126

6. Enterostomal Therapy Nurse 

Enterostomal Therapy (ET) nurses are RNs who are specially trained in treating patients with ostomies (such as an ileostomy, colostomy, or urostomy). ET nurses offer counseling regarding surgical procedures, determine where the stoma will be located, and educate patients on returning to daily living, discharge planning and out-patient follow-up.

Average salary: $91,679

7. Gastroenterology Nurse

Gastroenterology nurses help patients with gastrointestinal issues. They educate patients on how to manage their condition, prevent symptom flare-ups, and use alternative solutions, along with specific diets to alleviate symptoms and prevent further complications.

Average salary: $83,168

8. Gerontological Nurse 

Gerontological nurses care for older adults in various stages of life. They help their patients maximize functional and memory health, psychosocial well being, and end-of-life care in hospitals, nursing facilities, acute care, mental health, and community settings.

Average salary: $86,171

9. Hospice Palliative Care Nurse 

Hospice Palliative Care nurses provide relief that improves the quality of living by helping patients and their families feel safe and comfortable as they address health issues and monitor symptoms related to pain, disease, and ageing. Hospice Palliative Care nurses evaluate their patients’ health to ensure proper care is given. They help patients stick to their medication schedules and protocols, maintain physical activity, and accomplish everyday tasks. They also maintain and monitor equipment and assist with personal care needs such as bathing and feeding.

Average salary: $89,885

10. Medical-Surgical Nurse

Medical-Surgical nurses practice in hospital units and care for adult patients who are acutely ill with a wide variety of medical issues or are recovering from surgery. They provide care around the clock and see their patients more than any other health care professional in the hospital.

Average salary: $78,546

11. Nephrology Nurse

Nephrology nurses work closely with patients who require ongoing care or life-sustaining treatment. These nurses manage illnesses like chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease with dialysis, renal transplantation, and other treatment methods. They work with patients in pre-procedure assessment, safety during procedure, and post-dialysis assessment.

Average salary: $78,780

12. Neuroscience Nurse

Neuroscience nurses help patients suffering from neurological problems, including head and spinal injuries, such as trauma from accidents, or illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease, meningitis, encephalitis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Neuroscience nurses also work with patients suffering from strokes and birth defects that have affected the nervous system.

Average salary: $83,168

13. Occupational Health Nurse

Occupational Health nurses work to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. They protect workers from hazards in the workplace, prevent illness and injury, and place workers in jobs suited to their physical, mental and psychosocial abilities using health and safety programs they design and implement.

Average salary: $77,771

14. Oncology Nurse

Oncology nurses work with cancer patients receiving treatments, by assisting with hospital in-patient care or outpatient treatments, such as chemotherapy. These nurses usually work for hospitals and sometimes for private oncology practices, as well. Oncology nurses administer medication and educate patients about their illnesses.

Average salary: $81,670

15. Orthopaedic Nurse

Orthopaedic nurses treat patients with musculoskeletal diseases and disorders, like arthritis, fractures, broken bones, joint replacements, and osteoporosis. They assess symptoms of new patients, monitor existing patients, and provide follow-up care to surgical patients. They also help with casting and wound dressing, and motion therapy for injury recuperation.

Average salary: $81,531

16. PeriAnesthesia Nurse

Perianesthesia nurses monitor patients recovering from anesthesia and medical procedures. They regularly monitor and record patients' vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and respiration rate.

Average salary: $76,343

17. Perinatal Nurse

Perinatal nurses help patients throughout childbearing, from preconception to 3 months after birth. They promote and advocate for the safety and well-being of the mother, the family and the fetus/newborn. These nurses might work in labour and delivery or postpartum units, while some neonatal nurses might work in intensive care units where premature or ill newborn babies receive continuous care.

Average salary: $78,546

18. Perioperative Nurse

Perioperative nurses look after patients before, during and after surgery. They complete paperwork, answer questions, maintain a sterile environment in the operating room, monitor conditions during and after surgery, and coordinate care throughout the process.

Average salary: $83,310

19. Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse

Psychiatric nurses work in hospitals and in-patient care facilities with patients who suffer from mental illness. These nurses ensure patients take their medications, are safe from harm, and attend counseling sessions. Patients with Alzheimers or dementia might also be under the care of psychiatric nurses, through in-home settings or skilled nursing facilities.

Average salary: $83,168

20. Rehabilitation Nurse

Rehabilitation nurses work with patients and their families or caregivers soon after the onset of a disabling injury or chronic illness. These nurses help patients achieve and maintain maximum function and adapt to their new lifestyle in a therapeutic environment, with the goal of getting freedom and independence again.

Average salary: $78,546

Being an RN in Canada allows you to work in numerous practice areas and nursing specialties. If you’re at a point in your nursing career where you’d like a new change or challenge, use these 20 specialties of nursing as a starting point to explore new options.

Aside from these nursing specialties in Canada, you may also be interested in travel nursing or even becoming a nursing manager - the opportunities are endless!

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Author Bio:

Emma Caplan writes and edits client-facing documents and takes pride in making them sales-ready and reader-friendly. She has additional experience in quality control and proofreading. She has written articles and podcast summaries for the Vancouver Real Estate Podcast, edited fiction and non-fiction books, and volunteers as a copy editor for Editors BC’s West Coast Editor and Students for High Impact Charities.

Emma has also earned a certificate in editing and a bachelor of management degree. In her free time, Emma enjoys hiking, travelling, and creating jewelry. Connect with her on LinkedIn