Tips on Choosing a Nursing Specialty
In nursing school, you will spend approximately one semester on each specialty. This exposes nursing students to possible career choices and gives them hands-on experience.
Traditional specialties include obstetrics and gynecology OB GYN, nurse anesthetist, and nurse practitioner, as well as lesser-known specialties like forensic nursing, correctional nursing, or telephone-triage nursing.
The well-recognized nursing shortage in the United States means that there is a great demand for nurses in some particular specialties such as critical care nursing, emergency room nursing, and telemetry nursing; all of which require higher levels of training, more skills, and additional certifications.
Students should consider several factors when choosing a specialty. One of the most important is the level of stress they will experience on the job. Different individuals react differently to the stresses associated with a specialty. For example, some nurses find the stress of an operating room to be at an uncomfortable level, while others find it more stressful to work on a medical-surgical floor where they must care for patients suffering from a wide variety of conditions.
The amount of independence given to a nurse is also something to consider when selecting a specialty. Students should ask themselves if they prefer working on their own or with group of fellow health care professionals. Individuals who can handle high stress levels and enjoy multitasking are perfect for hospital emergency departments, while people who feel more comfortable with a slower pace do well in community hospital settings.
Willingness to obtain additional certification and education in order to follow a particular specialty is another important factor that impacts a choice of specialty. For example, students who want to work with cancer patients may need to pursue additional training in chemotherapy, while those desiring work in an emergency room may have to obtain advanced life-support training.
Students should also think about what work they enjoyed most during their nursing school training. Someone who likes working with children is well suited to pediatrics, while an individual who enjoyed the training associated with senior citizens might consider a geriatrics specialty.
Luckily, there are a number of programs currently available to help nursing students explore their options before committing to a specialty. Several medical facilities offer nurse internship programs that let newly registered nurses gain technical skills and experience during 16-week rotations in specialties like critical care – at full salary and benefits. These programs offer both classroom instruction and clinical experience, which allows new RNs to network with those who could provide them with jobs in the future.