Choosing The Right Nursing Specialty

April 22, 2014

Choosing The Right Nursing Specialty

Katie and a friend in the hospital in Tanzania Nursing is a rapidly growing profession, with a vast array of career opportunities. Those who pursue a career in nursing can find a wide variety of career paths, from ambulatory care, emergency, perioperative and critical care nursing to cardiac rehabilitation nursing and correctional nursing. Each of these specialties requires a different set of skills and their own specialised training. With so many options available, how do you choose what is right for you?

Here are a few factors you will have to take into consideration in your search for the right nursing specialty for you. 

Which patient population would you like most to work with?

Patient care areas are usually divided into age groups. The simplest way to determine the best fit for you is to consider which group you prefer working with. If you prefer working with children, you should consider a specialty in paediatric nursing. If working with the elderly is what you find more interesting, then you should take a look at geriatric nursing, either in a hospital or a long term care facility.

Which body system or acuity do you find most interesting?

Most nurses have a preference for providing care to patients who have disorders of a particular body system. If caring for patients with cardiac disorders is what interests you, consider working in a cardiovascular unit or a coronary care unit. If you prefer working with people who have vision disorders, working as an ophthalmic nurse may be a better fit. 

Not everybody can handle the stress of working with critically ill patients, day in and day out. If you can handle it and are interested, higher acuity, emergency nursing, AIDS care nursing or critical care nursing are all specialties where you know your care can make the difference between life and death. If you would prefer a lower acuity, consider working as a home health care nurse or a certified life planner, both of which deal with patients who are on the road to recovery.

Would you like to study some more and obtain an advanced degree?

There are several opportunities for nurses who hold a Master’s degree or PhD. The biggest challenge here lies is determining what you would want to specialise in. An advanced degree as a Nurse Educator would be a perfect fit if your preference lies in educating students and staff nurses. A Master’s degree as a Nurse Anaesthetist qualifies you to provide anaesthesia to patients during surgery, under the direction of an anaesthesiologist. If you are interested in a leadership role, consider becoming a Nurse Administrator. If you want to open your own practice to provide care for specific patient populations, you should consider obtaining an advanced degree as a Nurse Practitioner.

There are also several specialisations such as forensic nursing, which require certification instead of an advanced degree.

Take your time – Do your research

It is important to consider your goals and interests to find the career path that is best for you. Do your research. Talk to people who are in a specialisation that interests you. Consider job shadowing or medical placements to learn what specialisations would fit your interests and needs. With careful consideration and research, you can find an interesting, fulfilling career in the specialisation of your choice.