For most nurses, dipping their toes into nursing is their calling. It could have been observing a sick relative and the nurses who cared for them, being drawn to make a difference in the lives of others, or simply realizing the need to improve the healthcare system.
Regardless of what compelled you to this career path, after you have finished school, obtained licensure, and are working as an RN – you are ready to take the next steps.
To work in your desired field or for career growth, you need to consider your specialization options.
It might be a simple question for some prospective nurses. They have known from the moment they first indicated an interest in nursing that they want to work in a particular setting. Others feel drawn to the nursing profession as a whole. However, as the field develops, nurses at all levels need to have specialized knowledge and skills.
So what pointers to consider when choosing your specialization? Below are a few suggestions you must factor into to make the right decision:
- Consider educational requirements
An RN credential is sometimes sufficient to get you started with a particular specialization. However, many others require specialized training. And that is only possible with a master’s and doctoral degree or additional certifications.
For instance, if you wish to become an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practioner (AGNP), consider earning an MSN AGNP degree and expanding the practical experience required to deliver evidence-based nursing care. While investing in further education is undoubtedly a big commitment and a significant investment of your time and money. But doing so will typically lead to greater autonomy.
Additionally, to give yourself some scheduling flexibility, it could be a good idea to see whether online learning is an option.
- Take a closer look at your interest and personality
Each person has a unique personality. Some people are extroverted and like mingling with others. However, some people prefer managing others or working in the background.
Your personality and interests will significantly determine the specialty you will love and be the most successful in. For instance, working in an oncology or hospice unit can be quite emotionally draining. So, those specialties are not for you if you think you can’t manage the stress of working with terminally ill patients.
Choosing the perfect nursing specialty will ensure that your natural personality style maximizes your professional abilities when times are tough.
- Determine your preferred working environment
Every specialization has its own distinct pace, characteristics, and work culture. So consider the pace and atmosphere of each workplace as you complete your clinical rotations, and determine whether you feel at ease there.
Find answers to some questions. For example, can you manage to work in a severe work environment? If so, being a trauma nurse or critical care nurse would be a good fit. Further, look into geriatric nursing or family nurse practitioner specialties if you like a slower pace and wish to form lasting relationships with your patients.
There are dozens more nursing specializations, many of which offer a 9–5 schedule or something similar, like a school nurse or occupational health nurse, for nurses who want to leave the hallways and get fully involved in their communities.
- Factor in salary and employment outlook
It is a pertinent consideration you shouldn’t ignore because it will affect your future.
Some specialties are more sought-after and have a lot of job openings. On the contrary, other nursing specialties are low in demand and have fewer employment opportunities.
Thus, ensure the specialty you opt for has a good salary, job potential, and career growth. Although income shouldn’t be the primary consideration when deciding on a specialization for your master’s, it is still crucial. After all, you will invest considerable time, money, and hard work to obtain the nursing specialization.
In addition, be mindful that if you are unwilling or unable to relocate, research your region to determine which nursing specialty is highest in demand.
- Find out work hours
A key aspect of selecting a specialty is determining the hours and days you can manage to work. Work hours differ from one nursing specialty to another.
You won’t have any problems working shifts if you are productive at any time of day and don’t mind missing out on a holiday celebration. However, you might be a better fit for research or management-related career if you favor a consistent schedule that enables you to spend time with your family over the holidays and at home at night.
So make sure to choose a specialty that fits your lifestyle and aligns with your passion.
It’s no secret that long days, hectic schedules, happiness, and sorrow are all part of the nursing profession. But, choosing a specialty that makes you feel fulfilled in your professional life will lead to a successful and rewarding career.
With so many specialization options in nursing, no nurse should ever feel pressured to choose a path that does not spark professional enthusiasm and joy.
Be mindful that the things that make you happy and satisfied or give you a sense of fulfillment may evolve with time. And the best part about the nursing profession is that you can change your specialty along the road to ensure your professional life is constantly fulfilling.