You know you want to work in healthcare as a nurse practitioner, but how do you choose your area of specialism? There are many specialties to choose from – 96, to be exact. Therefore, it is crucial for you to know what options there are and how they may work for you.
It’s important to acknowledge that each specialism will come with its own challenges and rewards. So, above all, you should pick one that fulfills your career aspirations and skill set.
To help you make the right choice, we’ve highlighted some important things to consider when choosing your nursing specialism.
What are your interests?
It’s crucial that you enjoy your specialism and, when looking at your options, it is important to consider how it fits with your own interests.
Activities you enjoy
You need to consider what aspects of being a nurse you enjoy over others. For example, do you prefer interacting with patients, or do you prefer assisting in surgeries? What excites you when you go to work? With so many options why wouldn’t you be selective about the area you may end up working in for 20-30 years?
Additionally, consider the aspects you enjoyed learning at college or the areas you are interested in studying further. If you are interested in studying a certain area of medicine or healthcare then you may have to consider a specialism that will be well-suited to that area of study
There are a variety of different people you could work with within a given specialism. Therefore, you need to consider the age range you would prefer to work with – children, the elderly, adults, or a blend.
For example, if you like the idea of working with children then you may want to consider a role in pediatric nursing. Similarly, if you enjoy working with the elderly then you may be interested in geriatric nursing. Understanding your preference may help you substantially when choosing your specialism, allowing you to remove some choices as a result.
What environment would you thrive in?
As previously mentioned, each role has its own pressures and benefits. Therefore, knowing who you are and the way you work is crucial in picking your specialism.
Introvert or extrovert?
It’s a question asked in every career quiz, but it says a lot about what we can handle and the environments we enjoy. An introvert and an extrovert are two opposite personality types. Introverts generally prefer being in their own company rather than large groups, and they feel more energized by themselves. However, extroverts are the opposite of this, they generally enjoy meeting new people and being sociable, and they feel energized doing so. If you’re an introvert you may enjoy a specialism where you’d be working in a quiet environment and don’t require as much communication with patients. Options to consider include:
- Forensics Nurse
- Nurse Researcher
- Legal Nurse Consultant
Whereas, if you are an extrovert, you may enjoy a specialism that involves meeting new patients regularly such as a:
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Emergency Nurse
- Critical Care or Intensive Care Unit Nurse
Do you work well under pressure? This is something that needs to be considered in order to understand if you would work well in a certain specialism. If you can’t work well in high-stress situations, then specialisms such as Emergency Nurse, Critical Care, or Intensive Care Unit Nurse might not be suitable for you. If you can handle the pressure, then these may be areas where you would thrive and succeed.
Do you want further education?
Some nurse specialisms require further education, so you should question whether you are willing to go back into education in order to pursue it. Ensure that you understand the requirements and acknowledge that it will take a lot of time and energy to complete the studies needed. You’ll need further education for specialisms such as :
- Nurse Practitioner
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Certified Nurse Midwife
- Nursing Informaticist
Work-life balance means different things to different people, so ask yourself what it means to you and if you would prioritize it over a higher salary. For some, it’s how many hours they work, while for others it means working in a flexible environment.
Additionally, there are mental health aspects to consider in terms of work-life balance. Can you handle the high demands and stress of the speciality you think of pursuing? Certain nursing roles such as Critical Care or Intensive Care Unit carry a lot of stress – from the long hours to the pressure that is instilled in those who work there. This has the potential to take a massive toll on your mental health. Nurses are at a higher risk of depression and suicidal thoughts, so you need to consider what you can handle mentally. Therefore, matching your specialism to your preferred work-life balance can be beneficial.
When choosing a nursing specialism it is crucial that you know its average salary. It may be helpful to have a desired salary in your mind, so you can compare it to the average salary for each specialism. This is all dependent on your priorities. You may not prioritize or care as much about your salary in comparison to your work-life balance or the sense of fulfillment that your role brings.
Picking your nursing specialism requires a great deal of thought and may not be an easy decision to make. However, nothing is fixed. If you choose a specialism and decide that it’s not right for you then that means you’re closer to finding your fit.
While we have highlighted key things to consider, a good way for you to understand whether one will suit you is to conduct further research. Consider utilizing platforms such as LinkedIn to contact nurses who work in your specialty of interest and ask questions to learn more.
Chloe Mumford is a content writer and researcher for US Tech Solutions. After completing her BSc in Sociology, Chloe transitioned over into the workforce management industry with an interest in talent solutions. She writes about on-demand talent solutions, Total Talent Management and the potential of talent technology. She can be reached via LinkedIn.