November 13, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
If you know you want to be a nurse but cannot make up your mind about which specialty path you want to pursue, you’re not alone. Very few nurses start out knowing exactly which path they want to follow and even then, when the time comes to make the choice, some of them change their mind and switch to a specialty that’s completely different from what they initially had in mind. According to experienced faculty at several nursing schools, the majority of students who enrol into the programme have absolutely no idea what they want to do. So how exactly do you decide?
Everyone has at least one or two classes in nursing school that they absolutely loved. Which classes did you enjoy? What areas did you thrive in? Did you prefer specialties that dealt with the mind such as psychology or did you find classes relating to surgery more exciting? Think back to which subjects you looked forward to studying and which subjects made you break into a cold sweat.
Some students do great when studying the theory of childbirth or studying about newborn babies and paediatrics. However the realities can be harsher than you may think. Working with newborns and children may be cute and entertaining when children are in good health but do you have the resilience to deal with terminally ill children or childbirths that do not have successful outcomes? Do you have it in you to handle several such incidents in one day? You may be an expert in the theory of some specialties but the realities can be starkly different and the only way to know for sure is to try and gain some clinical experience in your chosen specialty before starting the program. One way to do this is by spending time at a nursing placement.
As a float nurse you will be assigned to tasks wherever help is needed. Working as a float nurse allows you to gain experience in all major healthcare areas, which is a great way to learn what you love and what you hate in the different specialties. Do this for at least a year or two post graduation to re-confirm your choices.
Do not restrict your choices to traditional streams. Nursing is not all clinics and hospitals anymore. Today the choices are limitless. To find something more in sync with your interests, think outside the box. If you are passionate about the judicial system as you are about medicine, consider a career as a legal nurse or a specialty in forensic nursing. Prefer overlooking the health of the community as opposed to caring for individual patients? A career as a public health nurse may be more in line with your goals.
The important thing to remember is that you will be spending a lot of time in your specialty so it is crucial to spend some time to make the right choice. Fortunately, with a vast variety of nursing specialties to choose from, you’re sure to find at least one if not more that are well suited for your temperament, your individual preference and your level of qualifications.