There are many different nursing specialties to choose from, but which one is the hardest? Some people might say that working with patients in a critical care unit is the hardest nursing specialty, while others might say that labor and delivery nurses have it the toughest.
So, what is the hardest nursing specialty?
The truth is, there isn’t just one hardest nursing specialty. When it comes to which type of nursing job has the most responsibility, takes the longest hours, and offers the lowest pay, different areas of nursing have different struggles. According to a study done by U.S. News & World Report, LPNs and RNs reported that their respective specialties were more difficult than those of other nurses.
This goes to show that each area of nursing requires a certain set of skills and abilities, which can make some harder than others even if they don’t typically take as long or offer as low pay as some other types of nursing jobs do.
So, while there isn’t just one hardest nursing specialty, the following reproductive health care specialties were mentioned over and over again by many different nurses as being among the most difficult. It should also be noted that these specialties weren’t always rated as the hardest; some of them simply had more difficulty than others did.
Labor and Delivery Care
Of all nursing specialties, this is widely considered to be one of the hardest. Labor and delivery nurses typically work around the clock taking care of patients during their pregnancies and even after they give birth until they are cleared to go home. They make rounds every hour or so and offer general prenatal and postnatal care, including checking vitals and administering medications.
Labor and delivery is a very emotionally-draining type of nursing. Nurses are expected to support their patients during the most important times in their lives, including when they are happy about giving birth to a new child or scared that something may go wrong.
During labor and delivery, nurses also have to monitor mothers’ contractions and progress on how far along they are in the birthing process. This is very demanding on nurses because if something goes wrong, they must act quickly.
Maternal-Fetal Medicine Care
Although there are only a few hundred providers of this type of care in the country, maternal-fetal medicine is another area of nursing that many nurses rank as one of the hardest. This particular field of nursing is very specialized and requires nurses to have knowledge on how severe birth defects can be harmful to both women and their babies.
When working with patients through pregnancy, maternity-fetal medicine nurses must monitor them for potential problems with their immune systems or blood cell counts. They also help run tests to screen mothers for infections or other types of abnormalities they may not know about if they hadn’t gone in for prenatal testing.
Some nurses consider anesthesia one of the hardest nursing specialties since you aren’t exactly saving lives each day like most other nurses do. Rather than helping people, nurse anesthetists make sure they are ready for the operating room before they enter it. Their jobs include things like prepping patients, inserting IVs, administering anesthesia and monitoring their breathing throughout the surgery.
Nurse anesthetists are only in charge of about five percent of all operations that are performed in hospitals across the country each year. This means that they aren’t typically responsible for someone’s life on a daily basis or making life-or-death decisions, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful work either.
Being in this position requires nurses to have knowledge in critical care procedures since they have to monitor their patients’ vital signs while under anesthesia during surgeries so they can detect when something is wrong with them if anything goes wrong.
Perianesthesia Nursing Care
Another highly demanding type of nursing is perianesthesia, which represents one of the hardest specialties in nursing. If you aren’t familiar with what peri-anesthesia care entails, it’s typically divided into two categories– pre-operative and post-operative. Peri-anesthesia nurses are responsible for making sure their patients are properly monitored before surgery.
They must ensure that all of their vitals are stable and that they won’t be harmed during the surgery or if there is an emergency where they need to go to the hospital immediately for help. Then around 24 hours after surgery, these same nurses will monitor blood pressure to see if there has been any unusual change in health status since they last checked.
Critical Care Nursing
Many nurses believe that critical care nursing is one of the hardest specialties because it requires them to work under extreme stress in an environment where everything can be hectic at any moment. The types of patients you see in critical care units may include those who are in cardiac arrest, require CPR or have serious burns.
Critical care nurses must often stay calm and collected while offering assistance during these very intense moments so they can help their patients. On top of this, many nurses working in critical care also have to deal with pain management for chronic illnesses, which takes up a lot of time and energy.
Emergency Room Nurses
Although emergency room (ER) nurses are called “nurses,” they aren’t exactly like all other nurses you might meet at your local hospital. Emergency room nurses are usually the first people an injured or sickly patient sees when they come into a hospital, so they are often responsible for assessing their vitals, documenting information about what happened to them and offering assistance until another nurse or doctor can take over.
Nurses who work in emergency rooms frequently have to work quickly since patients come in one after another. It’s not uncommon for patients to be crying if they are experiencing intense pain somewhere on their body, which makes it easy for ER nurses to become overwhelmed even though they must remain calm under pressure.
Another reason why many consider this as one of the hardest specialties is that working in ER can be incredibly tiring due to the long hours and demanding patients.