Nursing as a profession will always remain relevant. As long as humans walk the planet, they will need healthcare, and healthcare facilities will require the support of nurses to facilitate this. This is why the World Economic Reform ranks nursing as the second fastest-growing profession in the US. Simultaneously, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts close to 200,000 new jobs to be created for nurses in the next decade.
Besides the general growth in the field overall, nursing is diverse. A Registered Nurse (RN) can specialize as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Critical Care Nurse, Cardiac, Geriatric, Mental Health, or Surgical/OR Nurse, to name a few. There are several other domains in which nurses can earn specialized training and education to follow their passion and elevate their career prospects. And while the expansiveness of the field has benefits, it can be challenging to choose the right specialization for those working or studying.
Knowing which specialty to pick
With the breadth of specialties available for nurses to specialize in, the choice can be tough. To make things easier, it is best to evaluate the fields on a number of factors that reflect your personality on both professional and personal levels. For instance, when assessing the fields of an FNP nurse vs NP (Nurse Practitioner), you can think about whether or not you feel you are good with all members of the family because that is what the job of a family nurse entails. Other fields have similar elements to take into consideration. Here are some things that can help you clear your head about picking the field that will suit you the best.
1. Start by assessing your personality
As a nurse, you’ll have to deal with a lot of patients. If you’re already working as a nurse, you’ll understand that patients are unlike normal humans because people act differently when in pain or discomfort. This is why your personality type can influence your decision on the specialization you want to pursue. Every person has different traits. Some are calm, relaxed, and collected, while others are charming, bubbly, and extroverted. While the former is ideal for dealing with older patients most of the time, the latter is something that fits the bill of a family nurse’s personality. There is no hard and fast rule here, but it is best to pick a field that is in tune with your nature because that would define how you act in high-pressure situations.
2. What is your style of working?
Do you like working with a tight-knit group of experts? Or would you want to work alone on most of your projects? Maybe you like a combination of the two or want to stay away from direct patient care. Whatever your preferred working method, it’s important to consider whether you prefer working alone or in a team. This will serve as an important factor when you are deciding the respective specialization to choose.
In intensive care units (ICUs), where there are chances that you’ll frequently find yourself left on your own – especially during the night shift – some introverted nurses find their calling. Community nurses and Home health nurses deal with patients frequently, but they are not always surrounded by other healthcare professionals. A lot of the time that nurses who engage in informatics or research work on their own. So the type of work you prefer can become crucial when you are pondering about the field that is best for your personality.
3. The preferable age group you want to work with
Preference of the age group of patients you want to assist is another aspect you can consider when choosing your specialization. It is another personality trait that some individuals can work with patients of all ages. Other nurses feel they are more comfortable with certain niches, like children or elderly citizens. Either way, you can play to your passion and find the field of choice where you think your personality gels the best.
Although every age group presents particular opportunities and challenges, it is up to you to play to your strengths. Your communication style, for one, is something you can assess. In your social interactions, you will surely have learned which age group you can connect with the best. Is it children, toddlers, adults, women, or seniors? With the answer to this question, you can choose between gynecology, family practice, or pediatrics, to name a few.
4. Career prospects
Nursing is one of the most stable and secure professions out there. A shortage of opportunities is rare in this field, and with the right specialization, you can not only remain relevant but also elevate your career significantly. Nurses can earn anywhere between $80,000 to $120,000 a year, depending on their education, experience, location, and place of employment. However, the paths of growth can vary between different specializations. For instance, some fields offer more opportunities to move into leadership positions because of slim numbers, while other, more saturated niches make it hard for individuals to move up the ranks. You’ll need to determine which fields fall in which category because the specifics can vary based on where you work.
5. Working hours and environment
The final aspect to consider when picking a specialty is the work environment and hours you are more comfortable with. For instance, critical care or ER nurses can find themselves working in high-stress environments with long hours that can extend in cases of emergencies. Working in a proper medical facility will offer a very different environment as compared to being employed as a private nurse or in a school. Some fields also require nurses to travel either with medical teams or independently to look after patients in different localities. Similarly, the type of environment can also determine the hours you spend working. As a private nurse working in an educational facility or corporate environment, you may have a 9 – 5 schedule. In other cases, you may find yourself working back-to-back shifts of more than 24 hours.
Nursing is a selfless profession that happens to be extremely diverse. As a result, there is a field for all types of nurses. Your personality, professional ethics, and ability to communicate with people of certain age groups can help you identify a niche that suits you well. At the same time, your preference for wage, career advancement, and working schedule can also play a role in your specialization. Either way, it is best to get your priorities straight, assess your options, and then make a choice based on what you think is best.