Things To Consider Before Choosing A Nursing Specialty

Things To Consider Before Choosing A Nursing SpecialtyThere’s no shortage of specialties for the avid and ambitious nurse. You have wonderful choices, right from emergency-room and operating-room nursing, to orthopedic, pediatric nursing and beyond. Then there are the traditional specialties such as OB/GYN, nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetist. There is a host of lesser-known subfields such as forensic nursing, telephone-triage nursing and correctional nursing (nursing in prison settings).

Consider That Nursing Specialties Pay More

Health care facilities across America are experiencing nursing shortages. All kinds of nurses are in great demand, but nowhere is the demand greater than in specific nursing subfields, including critical care, emergency room and telemetry. Critical care alone reports a 20 percent vacancy rate, based on a recent report by the American Organization of Nurse Executives.

These areas of specialization require nurses that possess higher levels of skills, training and certification. As such, these specialties find fewer candidates who fit the bill, which is why these specialties are high paying, to entice the best talent. If money is the object, then choosing a well paying nursing specialty might just be the ticket.

Consider The Varied Stress Levels

How much stress can you take at a job, even if it pays more and holds more prestige? You need to ask yourself this question while choosing a nursing specialty. If you find it more stressful to work long hours in the operating room, where you’ll almost always be on call, then this specialty is not for you. Perhaps you find that working in the recovery room is more stressful, since you will need to posses honed technical skills. There’s also a great deal of stress involved in working 1:1 with doctors on the surgical floor.

Consider If A Nursing Specialty Suits Your Personality Type

What would be the best fit for you, where would you feel more comfortable? Are you the kind that enjoys being independent, or do you thrive on friendships, collaboration and camaraderie with staff? When you compare your personality with the working environment, you’ll understand where you’ll fit comfortably and find your best performance. There are those active, very keen personalities that can juggle responsibilities and handle stress. And then there are those that need a slower, gentler pace of work.

A good way of evaluating which specialty suits your personality type is to be aware of what you enjoyed most during training. If you relate to children, then you might want to specialize in pediatrics or maternity. If you’re happy around older people, then perhaps you should consider geriatrics.

Consider If The Job Setting Suits You

Another important consideration to choose the right specialty for you is the job setting. The pace of work, the technology that’s involved and the patient acuity you’ll experience are three key factors you need to consider. At one end are fast-paced settings involving state of the art technology solutions, and urgent treatment situations: think trauma, ICU and operating room. At the other end are the slower paces that use minimal technology, aided by low patient acuity.

Consider Special Certifications And Qualifications

You can become a medical or surgical floor nurse with a certification in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. However, if you want to work in the emergency room, you will need to obtain Advanced Cardiac Life Support training. Similarly, you will need special chemotherapy training from the Oncology Nursing Society to be able to work with cancer patients. So the question you’ll need to ask yourself is, are you willing to continue education and advance your skills based on your chosen specialty?

Consider The Job Role

What suits you best, managerial and non-managerial roles? You can enjoy direct patient care in some roles such as clinical specialist, staff nurse, nurse practitioner, and school nurse, nurse midwife, home health nurse and so on, in areas such as dialysis, cardiac perfusion, interventional radiology, IV access and maintenance. Other job roles involve infection control, utilization review, case management, researcher and educator. So see what role fits which specialty and choose your specialty accordingly.

Suitability Testing

If you’re still not sure which specialty to take up, take advantage of the program that allows you to test different specialties before you make a career commitment. Most major hospitals throughout America offer this facility.

These are paid 16 week nurse internship programs for newly licensed RNs. Here you’ll learn the cultures within various medical units and practice necessary technical skills. You can choose different specialties and test yourself at it, such as women and infant, critical care, cardiothoracic and so on. You will be paid a full salary along with benefits and provided classroom instruction particular to clinical and track rotations. The training you obtain here will prepare you to come to a decision and take up the relevant courses, leading to a job placement.

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