How to choose a nursing specialty

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How to choose a nursing specialty

When you're first getting started on your path to nursing, your main goals should be to finish school, pass the NCLEX and obtain your nursing license. Once you're working in the field as an RN, however, it's time to start thinking about the kind of nurse you want to be. For many nurses, the natural next step is to specialize in a nursing area.

You don't have to go the specialization route to practice as a nurse, but nurses who are recognized as experts in their fields command higher salaries and enjoy greater job security over the course of their careers.

How do you choose a nursing specialty? Here are three guidelines.

 1. See what's out there. There's no need to hurry in choosing a specialty. Many nursing certification programs require nurses to have some experience before they can begin the process, so spend some time in the early part of your career exploring different aspects of nursing. Many hospital and healthcare facilities hire nurses on a PRN or "as needed" basis. Seeking out PRN work outside of your day job can be a great way to get a feel for different nursing environments without making a formal commitment to any one field.

2. Consider your career goals. This is an obvious one, but worth mentioning. The specializations you have influence the jobs you're best suited for down the road. If you want to appeal to a variety of employers, consider specialties with a wide clinical reach. Pediatric nurses, for example, routinely find work in traditional healthcare settings like hospitals and private practice, whereas a correctional facility nurse may need to go where the jobs are. The demand for different types of nurses is highly specific to where you live and the needs of your geographic area. Which leads us to...

3. Take your geography into account. Before settling on a specialty, have an understanding of where you can put your education to use and how far you're willing to travel to work in your field. Is your specialty in demand in your city or town? How far are you willing to commute? Are you open to moving to another state or even another part of the country? Knowing these answers ahead of time will help you be strategic in furthering your education.

At Northeastern University, our Direct Entry Nursing Program confers two nursing degrees in the same program: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a master's degree with a focus in either Neonatal Nurse Practitioner or Nursing Administration/Leadership and Policy. To learn more about our Boston nursing programs, contact us today.

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