Medical Subject Headings (MeSH): Nurse Specialists
Nurse specialists (NSs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have completed graduate-level education and training in a specific area of healthcare. They have specialized knowledge and skills in a specific area of nursing practice, such as pediatrics, oncology, gerontology, or psychiatry. They often work in a specialized area of practice, such as a hospital unit, a clinical setting or in a community.
Nurse specialists work in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, private practices, long-term care facilities and schools. They play a critical role in the healthcare team by providing specialized care to patients with complex medical conditions, and by serving as a resource to other healthcare professionals. They can also serve as educators, consultants, and researchers.
Examples of the areas of specialization for nurse specialists are:
Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) specialize in providing primary care and managing illnesses in children from infancy through adolescence.
Gerontological nurse practitioners (GNPs) specialize in providing primary care and managing illnesses in older adults.
Oncology nurse practitioners (ONPs) specialize in providing primary care and managing illnesses in cancer patients.
Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) specialize in providing primary care and managing mental health conditions in patients.
To become a nurse specialist, one must complete a master’s or Doctorate degree program in nursing accredited by the Commission on Collegiate
Nursing Education (CCNE) or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and pass a national certification examination in the specific area of specialization. They are also required to obtain state licensure, and must maintain their certification through continuing education and recertification every few years.