Nursing is one of the most prestigious fields in the world. Nothing comes close to getting a chance to serve humanity and care for patients. The US is home to over 5,000,000 nurses. These include a broad spectrum of these professionals, from registered nurses to nurse practitioners. Depending on your area of expertise, you will perform specific tasks as a nurse. This is why you must carefully choose the path you want to take and join a career that aligns with your interests.
Specialization in nursing means you pick up specific skills, work in a relevant department and earn your salary accordingly. Once you pick your specialty, this will be your profession for the long haul, so you can’t rush the process. To make it easier for you to choose your niche, here’s what you need to know:
1. Know the education you will need
There are many ways to start your career as a nurse. You can begin your profession as a registered nurse or obtain a bachelor’s degree followed by a license. However, these rudimentary qualifications allow you to do the bare minimum in your field. You need an advanced degree if you want to move out of a restrictive environment and enjoy more liberty in your profession. Before you enlist in any online educational program, research what you need.
For instance, a resource like https://onlinedegrees.nku.edu/programs/msn-ag-ac-np.aspx can match you with the degree you need if you plan on working with older and geriatric patients. Some specializations require a master’s degree or relevant certification; others may need you to complete certain clinical hours.
If you plan on entering management roles, you will need to obtain an administrative degree. For instance, to be a nurse manager, you must also build up your business acumen. Hence, before you invest in any terminal degree, make sure you know what you need to do for the career you want.
2. Pick according to your personality
Your personality plays a significant role in your career. If you like mingling with patients, you will enjoy being a family nurse practitioner or working in pediatrics. But if you’re more reserved, you may want to become a researcher. If you want to be a leader, look into nursing administration or education.
Picking according to your personality allows you to stay in your comfort zone, which is essential for your job. If you’re bad at communicating or interacting with patients, you can endanger their lives since misinterpreting them or not asking them questions can cause mistreatment.
Nonetheless, if you want to pursue a career outside your personality style, you can still do so. It will help if you speak with your mentor and join workshops that can help you polish the skills that can help you get better at your field. If you need to figure out your personality, think about how you feel talking to large groups, dealing with numerous patients daily, handling case files, and delivering bad news.
3. Think about your work environment and hours
Depending on the field you pick, your work environment will vary. If you become an emergency nurse, you will work in a high-pressure environment and deal with extreme cases and injuries that may require surgery. But if you become an oncology nurse, you will work in a more controlled environment, and your expertise will be limited to patients with cancer.
Think about the atmosphere you can tackle. Are you good at multitasking and looking after several patients simultaneously, or do you need a steady routine with one patient spaced after the other? Places like the emergency room also experience a sudden influx of patients.
Critical care and emergency room nurses may work long shifts and always be on call. This is why you may find it hard to do justice to your job unless you can sacrifice your holidays and family time. On the other hand, if you want a fixed routine that allows you to work a regular shift and be with your family at night, you are better suited for the research or management side of nursing. Specialties like nurse practitioners also follow a routine and may need to pull overtime, which is less frequent than an ER nurse.
4. Look up your earning potential
Each nursing specialty offers you a certain level of income. While most specializations will land you a five-figure salary, some go as high as six figures. Your salary also depends on the state where you’re practicing. If you work in California, you can easily make a six-figure salary with no qualms. Other factors determining your wages include your experience, the demand for that particular specialization, and your educational credentials. For instance, a certified registered nurse anesthetist makes about $200,000 on a nationwide average per year, while nurse practitioners make about $118,000 per year. Their level of autonomy also depends on what state they are working in, as only 26 to 28 states in the US allow NPs to work with no supervision.
The US currently employs 200,000 NPs, which is expected to increase with the rising population and rapidly aging community of baby boomers. As a result, this will also impact their earning potential.
Nursing is a highly rewarding profession. Hence, if you enjoy being a nurse, you must consider specialization. This allows you to pick a specific path in your nursing profession. As a result, you will impact the money you make, the perks you enjoy, and your work environment. For this reason, as you attempt to pick the right nursing specialty, explore what’s in store for you. Figure out the educational qualifications you need, your personality type, and the environment you are happy working in. Lastly, focus on how much you will earn by following a specific career. After all, stability and job security are also part of picking the right nursing specialty.