Choosing a Nursing Specialty: What is Right for You?

NursingDecember 05, 2013


People often begin nursing school not knowing which nursing specialty they will choose. It may be a good thing to be a bit indecisive because clinical rotations provide many opportunities for students to experience different specialties. Some students may even have an idea of the work they'd like to do but, during clinicals, they might decide that a particular specialty isn't right for them after all.  While your program's instructors can give you advice, think about what might factor into your decision. Hours and pay are important considerations, but personal experience and personality may be the first areas to look. 

First, consider what made you want to pursue nursing. Personal experience often motivates individuals to want to participate in patient care because they know that it will be rewarding. On the other side of the coin, sometimes people have bad experiences that make them want to create a better experience for other patients and their families. 

If you like a fast-paced environment and thrive under stress, perhaps a career as an ER nurse will suit you. If you don't like the thought of being stuck in a hospital all day, consider becoming a flight nurse. In either of these roles, you will be working with critically ill patients and frequently dealing with distressed family members. 

Are you especially skilled with children, but find the clinical setting mundane? Think about becoming a school nurse. If your interests lie at the other end of the age spectrum, consider working with geriatric patients in a nursing home. Both of these nursing specialty paths require patience and understanding.

If you are drawn to work that allows you to spend time with and learn about your patients, you might look into hospice care or infusion therapy. As a hospice nurse, you will spend a great deal of time with your patients, and have the opportunity to get to know them well.  While a hospice can be a sad place to work, those drawn to this profession find great reward in helping their patients live out the remainder of their days at home and with dignity.  An infusion nurse will also likely get to know his or her patients well because of their frequent visits. The lows of losing some of these patients will be balanced out by the highs of seeing some who go on to live out their lives as healthy survivors. 

A student who thinks outside the box might consider working in a prison, becoming a travel nurse, or even working as a missionary traveling the world. These three possibilities are designed for those with adventurous personalities, who are not easily rattled, and can adapt to different and changing situations with ease.

Whether you're a quiet person who likes a clear schedule and repetitive tasks or someone looking for a little more adventure in your career, there is a nursing specialty for you. Consider what you want from your career, including what you want it to give you, and what you want to give it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job availability for registered nurses to grow by 26 percent nationally through the year 2020, so you can feel assured that the possibilities for work will be as vast as the rewards of this career path. 

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