Specialization in Nursing as part of self and professional development is a concept that every nurse considers. There are approximately 104 nursing specialities which present infinite possibilities.
Note that you will spend a considerable amount of time and resources towards and within the speciality you choose. For that reason, it is of significance to invest some time making the right decision.
Fortunately, with a variety of pathways & possibilities, you’re sure to find at least one, if not more, that are well suited for your temperament, your individual preference & your level of qualifications.
Remember to combine several pointers when making your decision as they all contribute towards selecting a viable specialty while one idea may not be exclusive and independent.
1. Consider the setting;
Location is a good place to start. This is one of the easiest feelings to identify, whether you are drawn to the clinical setting or community.
Community or clinical settings can at times be determinants of speciality choices because there are stark differences in the environment.
Examples of non-hospital/Community settings, include schools, public health departments, corrections facilities, industrial job sites, rescue helicopters, research centres and more.
Clinical Settings; outpatient clinic, theatre, Intensive Care, Labour & delivery and so on.
If you do choose a clinical area, you’ll want to consider the sub-setting . Despite the similarities, there are vast differences in the patient presentation, healthcare team, concrete nursing roles & so on in the different units.
This interest is often natural. Some individuals are drawn to the hospital ambience; Adrenaline rush of the ER, exciting pace of maternity, unpredictability of theatre…prefer caring for children over adults? paediatrics is a possibility for you.
However, many specialities can be practised in combined settings. So let´s continue and you may narrow down further.
2. Compare professional experiences;
Practice in the general setting such as a multifacted hospital where you can gain experience and at the same time, attempt to decipher what suits you. An example of this is as a float nurse.
A float nurse is one who is assigned tasks wherever help is needed in a large hospital. In this capacity, they gain experience in all major healthcare areas, which is a good way to practice while learning about related specialities. This idea is particularly excellent for new grads.
If the organization has no option of floating as a nurse, they may offer “change overs” regularly. Change overs are regular unit to unit transfers.
If you are a student, volunteer your time in various settings over holidays and free time.
While forging positive curiosity make the most out of the experience by being committed fully which includes speaking to professionals in these locations. Particularly, ones you’d like to be like in future. This type of informal mentorship will inform your decision better with first hand resources and information.
3. Pay & Income
When it comes to making the decision to specialize, specialized RNs have a higher income than the general practising registered nurses.
Some schools of thought consider salary an insignificant factor in specialty selection. This is because Nursing activities are motivated by more than just income. Satisfaction & fulfilment are some of the prime motivators.
In all honesty, the pay cheque far from from the immediate thoughts during a resuscitation. However, it has it’s place in job valuation.
There are unique individuals who are flexible and able to fit & grow into any speciality. They may therefore go into these based on renumeration.
Never the less, income is not bracketed in salary exclusively. With creativity & resourcefulness, opportunities can be branched off from any specialty.
4. Need & Demand
There is a universal need for nurses. More so, specialized nurses.
Other than this, many decisions that curve career paths in healthcare are largely based on future or current evidence based research that reflect demands. Demand is created by shortage of nurses, gaps from disease burdens, emerging technological trends and so on.
These demands are presented in infographics on healthcare trends from nongovernmental organizations, national health statistics, research papers and so on.
This is a very reasonable consideration in making professional decisions especially for individuals flexible enough to grow into any specialty.
5. Comparing Clinical experience & Classwork
In Nursing school, there are units we naturally sail through. These are pointers to the subjects we are naturally good at. Courses that were exciting or we excelled in. From these, we can predict or choose specialities.
There is a relatively odd opposite to this. I have met individuals who really worked on courses that they ¨failed¨ in during training. Eventually, they found interest and specialized in the subject. This is a unique path but quite practical.
This goes to show, that grades are not always reflective of future plans in terms of the specialities we´d like to get into. If there is a subject you find complicated, work on it. Not only because the knowledge will always be useful, but passions sometimes grow from simplifying complications.
The same goes for clinical practice.
Make the most of clinical rotations! Forge positive curiosity into each activity and question the sense behind it. Be fully engaged in not only clinical work but colleagues and preceptors. This way you will find the things you love and you will just start getting ensyc with something new.
On clinical rotations vs classwork, there is a huge difference between internalizing theories and conceptualizing or utilizing these in practice. That is the difference at times in performance difference in classwork against practical session. The clinical rotations are where we meet reality and our beliefs are tested.
Theories of childbirth or studying about newborn babies and pediatrics may be comprehensible. Working with newborns and children may be cute and entertaining when children are in good health but do you have the resilience to deal with terminally ill children or childbirths that do not have successful outcomes? Do you have it in you to handle several such incidents in one day? You may be an expert in the theory of some specialities but the realities can be starkly different and the only way to know for sure is to try and gain some clinical experience in your chosen speciality before starting the program.
It is true that we can experience our most real emotions about an activity if we are fully engaged in it. By getting into learning opportunities with intent and an open analytical mind, we can learn so much from so little.
These pointers will go a long way in guiding you towards a field you’d like to specialize in.