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A post-master’s certificate in nursing prepares nurses with a prior master’s degree to expand their area of expertise and to qualify to take the certification examination appropriate to the certificate. Examples of post-master’s certificates in nursing include family nurse practitioner (FNP), nurse executive, and nurse educator. Registered nurses (RNs) in these areas and other advanced roles often earn more than RNs without a certificate.

Graduate certificates in nursing are designed for nurses looking to enhance their expertise in specific areas of nursing. Examples of graduate certificates include nursing education, nursing informatics, care coordination, diabetes nursing, and nursing leadership. Besides career advancement, obtaining a graduate certificate in any of these specialized fields offers greater earning potential. For example, registered nurses (RNs) earned an average of $68,450 in 2016. However, RNs specializing in nursing leadership and management earned $96,450.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines nurse practitioners (NPs) as registered nurses (RNs) that serve as primary and specialty care providers, delivering advanced nursing services to patients and their families. They assess patients, determine the best way to improve or manage a patient’s health, and discuss ways to integrate health promotion strategies into a patient’s life. Nurse practitioners typically care for a certain population of people. For instance, NPs may work in adult and geriatric health, pediatric health, or psychiatric and mental health.

Clinical nurse leader (CNL) is a specialty area within the nursing field. Nurses in this advanced practice role focus on care coordination, transitions of care, risk assessment, outcomes measurement, implementation of best practices based on evidence, interprofessional communication & team leadership, and quality improvement. CNLs manage teams, which can include licensed nurses, technicians, and other health care professionals, and in certain, complex cases, they might be responsible for direct patient care.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines nursing informatics (NI) as an area of nursing that integrates nursing science with multiple information management and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice. The specialty, says HIMSS, supports nurses, consumers, patients, the interprofessional healthcare team, and other stakeholders in their decision-making in all roles and settings to achieve desired outcomes.

Nurse educators teach aspiring nurses about patient care. They develop curriculums, mentor students, and lead both clinical work and lectures. Nurse educators may also perform research, work directly with patients, or combine teaching, research, and direct patient care. Due to the specialized nature of all areas of nursing education, an advanced degree such as a master of science in nursing (MSN), doctor of philosophy (PhD), or doctor of education (EdD) is required for most positions.

The demand for more nurses in healthcare policy and public health nursing is greater than ever before. These key healthcare providers are on the front lines at hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, so they are often the first to observe how and when the healthcare system is not effectively meeting patient needs. Healthcare organizations recognize the importance of this perspective, and they appreciate the role it plays in influencing patient care and outcomes in order to create a healthier society.

Psychiatric mental health nursing is a specialty within nursing that focuses on providing care services to the psychiatric-mental health population. Per the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) is responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating individuals and families with psychiatric disorders or the potential for such disorders, using their full scope of therapeutic skills including the prescription of medication and administration of psychotherapy.

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) belong to a select group of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) that are among the highest paid professionals in the healthcare industry. Not only are FNPs well compensated, they also have the highest employment growth rate in the industry. From 2016 to 2026, the projected percent change in employment is 36 percent. This is five times the average growth rate for all occupations.