In your last semester of nursing school? If you’re not sure what nursing specialty you want to work in, here is a step by step process to help you decide.
Step 1 Consider what specialties you liked best in school
Grab a piece of paper and write down all your clinical rotations on the left. At the top put two columns one for likes and one for dislikes. Then fill in the columns with what you liked or disliked about each clinical. Did you like fast paced labor and delivery or hate the waiting around in between baby deliveries? Did you enjoy working with kids on the pediatric floors or hate seeing them so ill? Did psychiatry fascinate you or did you spend most of your psych clinical in the bathroom with diarrhea? Compare the likes and dislikes columns. Are there one or two rotations that stand out in the likes column?
Now that you have finished Step one, step two and three will be easy.
Step 2 Are you technically minded or enjoy relationships with people more?
Although you may be fairly new to nursing, you must have already heard that some nurses like perfecting their clinical skills while others prefer dealing directly with people. Although nurses need to develop skills in both the technical and relationship aspects of nursing, you may prefer an area that favors one or the other. Do you get most of your satisfaction by mastering technical skills? Then med/surg, the OR or ICU may be for you. If you enjoy the challenges of long term relationships with patients, then home health or long term care might be in your future. Like helping patients with injuries or surgeries work to get better? Consider rehab.
One way to find out if you are more technically minded or people oriented is to take a personality test like the Meyers Biggs. It will tell you whether you are more of a thinker or a feeler. You can find this test online for free. You might find that you are not strong on either. That’s OK. Go back to your rotation list and check the ones that fit your personality type, whether you are either more technical, more relational or a combination of both.
Your paper should look something like this:
Rotation Likes Dislikes Technical vs. Relational
Labor and Delivery
Step 3 Do you like working by yourself or with others in a team?
Many RN jobs involve leading a team of LPNs, CNAs and other health personnel. As head of a team you may be further from the bedside. You also share the patients with your team members and with other nurses from shift to shift. They may make decisions about your patient you do not agree with. If you like direct patient care and the independence of managing your own caseload, consider home health, case management or becoming a specialist in an area like wound care or infection control. Return to your table and see if you liked the ones better where you worked with a team or functioned more independently.
Do you see a clear direction emerging? That is the area you want to pursue. If you have not found your niche, don’t worry. Take a job in an area that interests you. Your first job may not be perfect for you. That’s OK. You cannot make a mistake. No matter what area of nursing you start in, you have ample opportunities to move to another one that fits you better. Each job will help you realize what you like and don’t like. If you head in one direction, you can always stop and pick another road. I once worked on a med/surg unit of a hospital for less than a month. I hated the job and took a cut in pay to pursue home health nursing. Turned out I loved it! As time goes on, your interest may change. That is something that is so great about nursing because not only are there so nfields to pick from you can move from one to another to find the one that is right for you at that particular moment in your life and career.