How to Choose a Nursing Specialty: New and Experienced Nurses

Choosing a nursing specialty can be difficult, whether you’re a new nurse or an experienced nurse. There are so many specialties to choose from, and it’s hard to know which is right for you. Here are some tips to help you choose the right nursing specialty for you:

What is a Nursing Specialty?

Over 1.75 million registered nurses are working in general medical and surgical hospitals. However, many people work in a specific field. A nurse specialty is an area of nursing that requires additional education and training beyond the traditional registered nurse’s (RN) scope of practice.

There are dozens of different nurse specialties, ranging from critical care nurses who care for patients in intensive care units (ICUs) to certified diabetes educators who help patients manage their diabetes. No matter your interests or goals, there’s likely a nursing specialty perfect for you.

Questions for Nursing Students and New Nurses

If you’re still undecided about which nursing specialty to choose, here are some questions that can help guide your decision-making process:

  • What personal interests do I have that could apply to my career as a nurse?
  • What kinds of patients do I want to work with? Children? The elderly? or patients with chronic illnesses?
  • What kinds of settings do I want to work in? Hospitals? Doctors’ offices? Schools? Homes?
  • What are my long-term career goals?

Use these questions as a starting point for researching different nursing specialties. The more you know about yourself and what you want from your career, the easier it will be to choose the right path.

Choosing a Specialty for Experienced Nurses

If you’re an experienced nurse looking to specialize, the process will be similar but may also involve some additional considerations. Besides thinking about your interests and long-term goals, you’ll also want to think about things like:

Am I looking for a change of pace in my career? If so, what kind of change do I want?

What kinds of new skills or knowledge do I want to gain?

What additional responsibilities am I willing to take on?

Also, speak with nurses in these various roles to get a sense of the day-to-day reality. This can give you a better idea of whether a particular specialty is a good fit for you.

Additional Considerations for Choosing a Nursing Specialty

Besides the questions above, there are also some logistical considerations you’ll need to take into account when choosing a nursing specialty. These include things like: 

  • Does the specialty require additional certification or licensure beyond the RN level? If so, am I willing and able to get the credentials? 
  • Does the specialty require completion of an accredited graduate degree program? If so, am I willing and able to commit the time and energy necessary to complete a degree program while continuing to work full-time as a nurse?

The answers can guide your decision about whether to pursue a particular specialty.

List of Nursing Specialties

There are many nursing specialties to choose from. Here is a list of some popular nursing specialties:

  • Adult health nursing
  • Neonatal nursing
  • Orthopedic nursing
  • Nursing in cardiac surgery
  • Pediatrics             
  • Oncology 
  • Critical care 
  • Emergency room             

There are many factors to consider when choosing a nursing specialty. However,  by doing your research carefully, and taking time to consider your options, you will find the perfect fit for you.

If you’re an experienced nurse looking for a change of pace, or if you’re just starting out and need some help narrowing down your options, Actriv Healthcare can assist you. We help nurses find work in their desired specialty quickly and easily. Contact us today to learn more. about how we can help you reach your career goals!