The United States is home to 3.8 million registered nurses. Of these current RNs, almost 85% practice their profession.
That seems a lot, but experts say there is a potential for a shortage. This is especially true when it comes to those with a nursing specialty. To avoid these deficiencies, the US requires an additional 11 million RNs.
As a nursing student or new nurse yourself, all these translate to more job opportunities. Even more so in specialized areas, as these tend to have higher shortages.
The big question now is, how do you choose the right nursing specialization?
This post will give you some tips to help you arrive at a decision, so be sure to read on!
Factor In Your Personality
A survey found that a whopping 90% of people aged 21 to 65 regret their career choices. Many of them admitted that their mistakes stemmed from not knowing what they wanted to do. Many others decided without considering their values and interests.
This is why it’s crucial to factor in your personality when deciding on a nursing specialty. Base your decision on the things that interest you while still upholding your values. Can you imagine yourself happy and fulfilled in that sector within the next five, ten, or twenty years?
Let’s say that you have an impressive way of “keeping your cool” under the most distressing events. You’ve always been one of the first to react in emergencies. In this case, an ICU nursing specialization may be a great fit for your super-fast responses.
On the other hand, if you thrive in academics, then you may want to consider clinical research. Clinical research nurses help create and formulate new and better treatments. This may also be an excellent fit for you if you’re an outstanding critical thinker.
What if you’re a great conversationalist, and you love to meet people from all walks of life? Then you may want to consider becoming a travel nurse. A travel nursing job will not only let you work within a single state; you can move from one state to another!
The most important thing here is to choose a specialty that jives with your personality. Don’t let external factors, especially “pressure,” have a massive influence on your decision. Remember: your choice now will affect your life in the many years to come.
Consider the Work Environment
When deciding how to specialize as a nurse, imagine yourself in various work settings. That’s right: nurses aren’t always in hospitals, although that’s still an option. You have many other choices, though, from private practices to schools and corporations.
Keep in mind that there are more than 60 nursing specialties that you can choose from. If you don’t want a job surrounded by four walls, you can work 5.9 to 7.2 miles above the ground, in an aircraft. This the kind of environment in which flight or transport nurses work.
If the air isn’t for you, then perhaps you’d like to surround yourself with clear, blue waters. In this case, you may want to consider a specialization in cruise ship nursing. Many travel nurse jobs also provide such benefits.
Think About the Age Group You Best Identify With
Of all healthcare professionals, nurses spend the most time attending to patients. A study even found that patients spent over 80% of their time with nurses, compared to about 13% with doctors.
With that said, you should also factor in the age groups of patients that you’re most comfortable with. It’s much like how teachers specialize in specific grade levels. As a nurse, however, you’d consider age brackets, such as infants or elderly adults.
Let’s say that you’re always the first person that people turn to for help with their babies. You also enjoy taking care of infants, and you’re very good at it. In this case, you may want to consider a pediatric nursing specialty, such as neonatal nursing.
At the other end of the spectrum is geriatric nursing. Geriatric nurses specialize in taking care of aging and older adults. They can work in medical facilities, but they can also work in the home of their patients.
The Demand for Your Preferred Nursing Specialty
As mentioned above, shortages are more common among nurses who have specializations. However, there are some, like travel nurses, who are even more in demand. One reason for this is that many states are experiencing regional shortages.
California, for example, may have a shortage of up to 45,500 registered nurses by 2030. Alaska, on the other hand, would have the highest estimated RN job vacancy, at 22.7%. Many other states, like Texas and New Jersey, will also experience the same woes.
It’s because of this that travel nurses will always have work awaiting them. Critical care, labor and delivery, and geriatric nurses are also in high demand.
Additional Specialization Certification and Requirements You Need to Meet
Most specialties require additional education and training on top of nursing school. Specializations also warrant specific nursing certifications. You need to obtain these before you can work in your desired specialized field of nursing.
With that said, it’s also crucial to consider how these requirements will sit with and affect you. They will extend the time you need to spend in education, after all. However, they are well worth it, as they will boost your professional recognition.
The greater your professional recognition, the higher your earning potential becomes.
Fulfill Your Dreams With a Rewarding Nursing Career
Choosing a nursing specialty takes a lot of deliberation and mulling over. At the end of the day, though, you’d want to have a career that makes you feel utterly fulfilled. Something that you’d look forward to until you retire, and one that you’d be proud to tell the grandkids.
Just remember that fulfillment carries different meanings for different people. For you, this may mean taking care of people, making them better, and being able to travel too. If so, then you may do very well as a traveling nurse.
Interested in learning more about traveling nurses? Stability Healthcare has all the resources you need, and we can even help with job placement. Feel free to browse travel nursing jobs or by reading our many guides on nursing must-knows!