Why Choose Hospital Nursing?

Your first job as a nurse is often simply the first one you were offered. But as you grow in experience, you may have a lot of choices when it comes to employment. Perhaps you’re trying to decide what type of employer you want, or what type of setting you will choose to build your career.

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Hospital jobs may not be growing as fast as those in ambulatory settings, but the hospital still employs more registered nurses than any other employer. Hospitals pay more than most other employers. According to the BLS, nurses in hospital settings earn more than $4,000 more than their counterparts in physician’s offices and more than $6,000 more than those in nursing care facilities. The sheer size of many hospitals — the number of people employed — means the facility is more able to offer some types of benefits, like onsite childcare and workout facilities. Some will pay the bill, or at least a substantial portion of it, as you advance your education and move through the ranks. There are ample opportunities for advancement. These include traditional and nontraditional clinical roles as well as leadership and administrative positions. Here’s a look at some positions you can strive for.

Pediatrics Nurse

Most service-oriented people love children — and a majority of pediatric nurses do work in hospital settings. Respiratory care and cardiac care are two high demand specialties. Many pediatric nurses do work with well children, though.

Perioperative Nurse

There are plenty of opportunities for advancement in and around the operating room. The circulating nurse oversees nursing care during operations and advocates for patients while they are under sedation. The Registered Nurse First Assistant has additional training beyond that required for his RN license. He has duties like suturing and controlling bleeding. He may also have a role in evaluation and patient management. According to the Mayo Clinic, preoperative nurses may enjoy salaries above the norm for registered nurses.

Neonatal Nurse

Who doesn’t love babies? Neonatal nurses help the tiniest and most vulnerable little ones survive. A neonatal nurse works with families as well as infants (as many babies have family members on the ward around the clock). The modern neonatal ward blends high technology with old fashioned nurturing as policies like koala care come into vogue and garner research to back them up. Some neonatal nurses go on to become neonatal nurse practitioners. Indeed experience in the neonatal ward is often a requirement for entry into advanced programs.

Nurse Navigator

Nurse navigators are usually specialists in a particular disease, like breast cancer. They meet newly diagnosed patients and then walk with them every step of the way, coordinating care, integrating them into support groups, and helping them make treatment decisions.

Informatics Nurse

Information and technology are transforming health care, and informatics nurses are growing in demand — and income. According to the 2011 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Study, the average salary for nurses employed in this capacity (across settings) is $98,703. Nurses employed in informatics tend to have more than ten years of clinical experience. The majority have a graduate degree in nursing or some other field.

Genetics Nurse

Genetics nurses are also on the cutting edge of research. They work with people who have genetic disorders. Genetics nursing is another relatively new field — the human genome was only mapped in 2003.

Charge Nurse

Charge nurse is a lower level management position. The charge nurse is in charge not of a whole ward but of a particular shift, making staffing decisions and assisting higher level managers.

Nurse Unit Manager

A unit manager is responsible for a particular unit on a hospital. She mentors nurses and directs their activities. She is also responsible for budget and hiring decisions.

Case Manager

Case managers manage patient care and make sure that everything is accomplished that needs to be prior to discharge.


This position is not a specialty, but a title you earn. Many hospitals have a career ladder. You get points for things like education, profession development, and other demonstrations of professional competency. Your duties increase as you move from RN I to RN II to RN III — and so does your pay.

Explore additional Nursing Careers.