Which Specialty Should I Choose?
While it is not necessary for nurses to have a specialty under their belt, many nurses pursue specialized credentials in order to advance themselves and level up their income. Nurses generally know what type of specialty they would like to get into, but that doesn’t mean everyone has their choices laid out in front of them. You may frequently read or hear about specialties and which ones are the most in-demand or pay the highest, but not often is it discussed which specialty will be perfect for you. We may have something in mind that intrigues us or makes us think we could do a job well, but that does not necessarily suggest our personalities and emotions will match. Below, we will guide you through the questions you should ask yourself to determine which direction is best for you to start moving in.
What Is A Nursing Specialty?
When you think of a nursing specialty, you should think back to your university or college days. While you are studying to become a nurse, you can also major in a certain topic. Much like studying to become a teacher but focusing on science. Your specialty in that field will be science. A similar concept goes for nursing. While you are studying to become a nurse, your specialty could be in cardiovascular health or pediatrics. That implies your knowledge and skill levels will be higher in those areas.
The challenge is discovering which area you will not only enjoy the most but is a good match for who you are as a person. As mentioned, our personalities and emotions can tie in greatly with our success in each specialty. You may find an ICU position to be thrilling and intriguing, but maybe the consistently high-pressure situations will be too much for you. You could also love babies but find you may be too nervous or not gentle enough to care for such fragile beings. This is all okay but still makes it important to figure out what will work best for us and in turn, be best for the hospital and patients.
How Do I Know Which Specialty To Choose?
What Are Your True Skills?
It is often easy for us to state what we think we are good at, but when making a decision like this, it’s vital to be real and honest about what your skills actually are. Sit down and write a list of the attributes you think will help you in a field, but also ones that you think will benefit you long term. These could look like:
- Works well under pressure or works well with time?
- Quick and effective decision-making skills or slow and smart decisions making skills?
- Works well with instructions or works well in a leadership role?
- Work well with more adolescent patients or feel connected to older patients?
Once we can pinpoint our specific skill sets more precisely, we can move forward and ask ourselves.
What Pace Can You Work In?
Are you someone who enjoys the slower pace in life? Being able to produce decisions with time and care and meet patients with, ironically, patience? Or, are you someone who enjoys the faster pace? With continuous challenges, more elevated pressure and a brisker pace? Whichever one you lean more towards, there are specialty positions perfect for either tempo.
If you are someone who enjoys the slower pace, you could consider Occupational Health Nurse, Clinical Research Nurse or a Long Term Care Nurse. If a faster pace is more your direction, you can look into becoming an Emergency Room Nurse or an Intensive Care Unit Nurse.
How Are You With People?
It may be automatic for many of us to assume that getting into the health care field requires you to be with and around people all of the time, but it’s good to know there are other options. If you are more on the introverted side, which means you do better in a position where you work by yourself with few interactions, you could look at more research-based roles like an Informatics Specialist, or could look at becoming a nurse educator or legal nurse consultant. For the extroverts out there, you have a bit more to pick from. You could go for a Medical Surgical Nurse, a Critical Care Nurse or step into Pediatrics.
Who Do You Feel More Connected To?
In our skills questions, we asked if you “work well with younger patients or connect to older patients?”This is a question that can really catapult us into the ideal position. How well do you work with what demographic?
If you are someone who loves babies and has a soft spot for mothers-to-be, a Labor and Delivery or Neo-natal Nurse could be the perfect direction for you. Handle kids very well? You could find yourself leaning into the Pediatrics. For the older generation, you could be looking at Recreational Therapist or a Geriatric Nurse.
What Job Setting Do You Prefer?
Though hospital settings are ordinarily the default when becoming a nurse, specializing in certain areas could open up some pretty interesting doors for you. You could find yourself in clinics, offices, job sites, schools, research centers, correctional facilities or even rescue helicopters. Nurses are necessary in many different places, so it’s up to you to decide which place you’d enjoy that to be. In saying this, if the places noted above aren’t to your liking, you should make sure to also look at what unit or department you would want to be placed in.
Is Your Specialty Special In Your Area?
If you have begun to be able to narrow your choices down, it’s imperative to look at how in-demand your specialty in fact is in your area. This becomes even more significant if you do not want to have to relocate at a later date. Ensuring that your choice allows you to thrive in your current area, continues to be in demand or even becomes more in demand in the future. Though if relocating doesn’t sound so bad, you can side with specialties that are also in demand in other places, or simply look into travel nursing!
Do You Believe Your Specialty Will Stay Special To You?
Bad days are inevitable, and your specialty will always be important to the patients you are helping, but are you sure it will stay special to you? The best part about finding your specialty, at the pace you like, in an environment you will enjoy and with people you can connect with, is your specialty will feel incredibly special to you. Allowing yourself to dive into your attributes, skills and choices. As well as providing you with a job you can feel enthusiastic about, strive in and feel fulfilled after each shift!