Types of Nurses

For every advanced field of medicine there is a type of nurse that works alongside other members of a patient’s health team. In general, there are four broad categories that define the different levels of education for nurses. Within each level, there may be over one-hundred specialty care nursing categories. Some nurses travel the globe and some work in hospital emergency rooms. Many work in specialty medical units at a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s practice. There are hundreds of sub-specialties available to nurses.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nurse Practitioners are also Registered Nurses, but may carry out duties on behalf of a doctor. A nurse practitioner has undergone more advanced training than a person who is strictly an RN and is therefore able to function as a doctor in certain settings. They may work with, under, or independent of an attending physician. In some places, they are also able to write prescriptions if they are certified to do so.

Registered Nurse (RN)

Registered nurses are the largest professional body in the healthcare industry according to most sources. A registered nurse, or simply RN, is responsible for much of a patient’s care at a hospital, clinic, or other type of health facility. This type of nurse is well-trained on the advanced principles of nursing and provides everything from diagnostic care to emotional therapy to families and patients. There are many types of Registered Nurses in healthcare. To name a few:

Public Health Nurse (PHN)

Public Health Nurses are trained as registered nurses, but work toward health care goals in the larger community setting. They are fully equipped to work as an RN in a clinical setting, but are often tasked with education and health care in homes and around the community in schools and with other group organizations.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA)

CRNA nurses are also trained as a registered nurse, but specialize in anesthetics. CRNAs work in hospital operating rooms, dental clinics, and with specialist doctors who perform in- and out-patient surgical procedures.

Home Health Nurse (HHN)

Home Health Nurses are trained registered nurses that specialize in providing their services outside of a clinical setting. This type of nurse is trained on watching for home-hazards during patient visits and provides guidance to patients who cannot leave their home, as well as providing answers and advice to family members in the home.

Licensed Practical/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN or LVN)

An LPN is a type of nurse that provides health care to all types of patients, but may mostly be responsible for triage and the administration of medication. They are not as advanced in training as an RN, but many with years of experience understand the tasks of RNs. They carry more training than a CNA and are largely responsible for reporting on patient care to superiors in a clinical setting.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Sometimes known as a nurse’s aide, CNAs are a type of nurse that can perform a variety of functions in the healthcare realm. They are tasked with direct patient care and function as home health nurses and in clinical settings as an assistant to more advanced medical staff.