If you’re committed to a life of service and want to help people in their greatest moments of need, you can’t do much better than working as a certified nurse. But which direction to take your career? Nursing is a massive field, and the specialization you choose can change everything, from where you work to the hours you spend each day, to the type of patients you will handle. And as medical science continues to improve and technological innovations seem to happen each and every day, nursing will only continue to expand in demand and complexity. There’s no right answer to these questions, as it’s totally a matter of personal taste. But to help you through the process, here are five tips for choosing a nursing specialization.
First off, think long and hard about your interests and temperament. Each specialization has its own working environment and pace of activity. If you choose incorrectly, you’re going to be pretty miserable. If what drew you to nursing was the rush of working at a breakneck pace in life and death situations, you’ll probably thrive in an emergency room or trauma center. But if you like to take your time and work methodically through every detail, you might be more suited to a position in clinical research. Think about what interests you outside of your career, as that may give you insight into the proper specialization.
Next, think more specifically about the setting itself. There are many other places nurses can work other than at a hospital or doctor’s office. Nurses often work inside public or private schools, prisons and other correctional facilities, job sites in dangerous industries, labs and even in a rescue helicopter. The location where you practice impacts all of your interactions, and the pace at which you’ll have to complete your duties. So consider the venue carefully.
What sort of role do you want to play within the medical department? Some nurses are born leaders, and in that case you might want to look for a specialization that sets you on the path to a management position. Other nurses really shine when working closely with patients, so you’ll want to make sure that any specialization you attempt will keep you close to their bedside. On the other end of the spectrum, you might not want to be stuck doing that dirty work all the time. So think about education or case management instead.
How well do you handle pressure? The more you thrive in those instances, the better your salary or the prestige your position may bring. Nurses must juggle all sorts of dangerous and delicate scenarios, and if you think you can cut it, you might end up as a chief nursing officer or in a highly paid specialization that puts you in the middle of surgeries. But it also means you might end up having difficulty balancing that work with the rest of your life. Consider whether you have the sort of support system in place that will allow you to handle these roles and still enjoy your life.
Finally, how well do you connect with technology? If you had no problem navigating online CNA classes to get to this point, chances are you could continue to work with powerful devices employed in nursing. That could bring you towards the specialties of telemetry or nursing informatics. These areas will continue to grow, and if you’re willing to grow along with them you’ll insure a long, successful career.