Choosing Your Nursing Focus: 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

by Howard Gerber on April 6, 2017

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nursing focusOne great thing about nursing is all the options you have. There are dozens of nursing specialties to choose from. Whether you are a relatively new nurse deciding what to pursue, or are a seasoned provider looking to make a change, there are a lot of choices. Before you decide what the right specialty for you is, it’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions.

Is there a high demand for the specialty?

Although the demand for various nursing specialties changes, you might want to consider what the current and future nursing needs may be. Currently, dialysis nurses, midwives, and nurse anesthetists are in demand. The demand for certain specialties may also vary by geographic area. To learn which specialties are in demand in your area, consider contacting your state nursing association.

Do you thrive in a fast-paced environment?

Certain nursing specialties are more fast-paced than others. For example, working in the intensive care unit or the operating room may involve rapidly changing situations. If you prefer a low-key environment, you may be better suited for specialties, such as post-partum, education or working in public health. Keep in mind, preferring a slower pace does not mean you’re not cut out for nursing. Instead, it’s important to be honest with yourself and decide what type of setting and situations you enjoy and are likely to excel.

Are you willing to earn additional certifications?

Depending on what area of nursing you are considering, additional training and certifications may be needed beyond earning your registered nursing degree. Certain specialties require a bachelor’s degree while others require a master’s degree. For example, if you want to work as a midwife, you need to complete a certified midwifery program, which typically takes a few years. Some specialties may not require an additional degree, but you may need to earn certain certifications before moving into that area of nursing.

What is the typical salary?

It’s better to follow your heart and work in an area of nursing that you feel is a good fit rather than choose one based on the pay. But it’s still helpful to enter a specialty with your eyes wide open, and that includes knowing what the salary is. Higher paying specialties include nurse practitioners, intensive care nurses and clinical nurse specialists. Travel nursing also often pays well.

What patient population do you most enjoy?

Some nurses enjoy working with a variety of patient populations of all ages with all conditions. But others find they are drawn to working with a certain group, such as geriatric patients or children. Maybe you’re interested in working primarily with patients with cancer or those with psychiatric conditions.

What setting is a good fit?

Many nurses work in acute care hospitals. But that is not the only setting where nurses are needed. Nurses also work in industrial settings, schools, and correctional facilities. When considering your specialty think about the environment that suits you best. 

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