You cannot go only by impressions or what people have to say about a nursing specialty when choosing one. You need to explore every specialty you’re thinking of choosing in full detail before you commit to anything. You’ll also need to do some soul searching to know where you are more likely to thrive and if you have what it takes to succeed in the field of your choice. A mistake here could lead you to waste time and money on a formation you won’t complete, or where you’ll quickly burn out after a few days or months on the field. Let’s take a look at a few questions you should ask before choosing a nursing specialty.

What Do I Like the Most About Being a Nurse?

All nursing specialties offer different challenges and experiences. If you pick one that suits your interests and personality, there’s a greater chance that you’ll enjoy both the theory and your work.

What gets you going at work? Do you like working in a fast-paced environment and thrive off adrenaline? If this is the case, maybe you should look into acute care. Do you like having a close relationship with patients and like to see them improve through your care? Then maybe family practice nursing could be your calling. If you also have great communication skills and patience, there are specialties like hospice nursing where you would be a great fit as well.

If you’re fed up with your position and can’t think of anything you like about it, it doesn’t mean that you should get out of nursing. It could simply mean that you need to work in another setting. Nothing says that you have to work with patients either. The country is in great need of nurse educators at the moment, and becoming a nursing teacher could be a great transition. Or maybe you could work as a nurse writer. In these cases, you may not even need to get some additional credentials. So, before you think you have given the field everything you’ve got, check the full range of possibilities.

Do I Have the Right Personality?

You also have to check if you have personality traits that could make working in certain fields difficult or impossible for you. If you’re introverted, for instance, there are many specialties where you’ll have a very hard time. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing for you out there. Some nurses don’t cope well with personal interaction and prefer to be left to their quarters. If that’s your case, you could thrive in a research role. There are also emerging fields like nurse informatics where you’ll be doing most of your work alone, and this could be a great option for you.

You also look at personality traits that could make you perfect for certain roles. If you have nerves of steel and are known as a grounding force in the face of tragedy, then maybe something like pediatric acute care nursing could be a good option for you. These nurses have to deal with tough cases all the time, as well as heart-wrenching stories, which is why very few can handle the job. But, if you feel like you have what it takes, you could help a field that desperately needs it.

If that’s something that would interest you, know that there are tons of great online pediatric acute care nurse practitioner programs you can choose from. Baylor University has one of the top-ranked pediatric acute care nurse practitioner programs in the country and you’ll be able to learn everything you need to become a pediatric care nurse from the comfort of your home. This is a great choice for any nurse wanting to advance their credentials while still maintaining their current job.

What Kind of Environment is the Best for Me?

According to the BLS, only around 60% of all nurses work in hospitals. That means that roughly 40% of nurses work in non-hospital settings such as nursing care facilities, home healthcare services, and physician’s offices. Others work in schools, companies, or resorts. You could also work in public health and help coordinate efforts on the ground or provide emergency care on rescue missions.

Some nurses can’t see themselves working in the ER anymore, and might appreciate a slower pace. On the other hand, you have people who may think that working with patients at home or in fields like geriatric care is not exhilarating enough for them. You will need to envision the type of environment people in your field have to work in and see if you could work there for the rest of your life.

Am I Ready to Move?

The next question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether you’d be ready to move for your job. If you aren’t, then you’ll have to look for specializations that are in demand where you are. If you live in a rural area, for instance, you may have trouble finding work if you go into an ultra-specialized field. Nurses with these credentials tend to do better in major metropolitan areas with top hospitals and research centers. Most of the jobs you’ll find in rural areas will be for generalists who can build ties with the community. So, if you live somewhere with limited options, you have to be prepared to either relocate or revise your choices.

What About Job Security?

It’s also very important that you look at the prospects for the future for any specialization you have in mind. You may be passionate about a field and think that the prospects are good for the moment but you never know what could happen in the future. If you want to work in a field where most of the procedures are non-elective, such as plastic or exploratory surgery, for instance, you should know that these are heavily affected by the ebb and flow of the economy. During tough economic times, people tend to switch to less intrusive and more affordable procedures that don’t require as much staff. So, before you decide to go into a specialty, see how different factors could affect demand and consider privileging fields that are evergreen.These are only some of the things you’ll have to determine before deciding on a nursing specialty. The most important part is being well-informed about what will be expected of you and what your average day will be like to ensure you’ll be a proper fit.

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