Choosing a nursing specialization is an important decision for your career. It will define the course of your professional life and give you opportunities to realize your passion. Fortunately, the healthcare sector is rapidly expanding. According to the BLS, the next decade will be very prosperous, with employment expected to grow by 20% with about 2 million new jobs. This means there will be several new opportunities for you as soon as you invest in getting a specialization. The right choice will open many doors for you.
You generally need higher qualifications to get more autonomy and a more secure job. However, choosing a specialization that can turn that dream into a reality is crucial. Here are some tips to help you pick out a specialization:
Look into specialization degrees online
Searching for specialization degrees online can help you get the information you need for your program. For example, if you want to become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), you may want to start with a degree that is both affordable and caters to your lifestyle.
Online degrees are the pinnacle of modern education, and finding the right program can streamline your path to becoming certified. Since the UTA FNP Master's program meets IOM recommendations, you should look into this degree and get the necessary skills to become a certified FNP. You pick up on new research techniques clinical skills and build up your knowledge for primary care. In addition, the program can be completed without denting your budget.
Think about how close you want to be with patients
You need to figure out how closely involved you would like to be in your work. If you want to work with patients in a good bedside manner, devise treatment routes, and care for their chronic conditions, then you need a patient-inclusive specialization. These include critical care, FNP, and geriatrics. These specializations require you to converse at length with your patients, order tests, and set up follow-up appointments to manage their wellbeing.
However, if you're more research-oriented and prefer a desk job go for case management, nursing education, and Infection prevention and control. These are administrative roles where you analyze patient cases, devise policies on better patient care, and reapply unique insights gleaned as a nurse in a programmatic role.
Work with your interests
It's not wise to choose a specialization that does not interest you. This disconnect may lower your pride in your career, making you prone to not bringing your best selves to work. So, take the time to analyze what type of environment you enjoy working in.
For example, if you like assisting surgeries, you may investigate a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) specialization. It will teach you how to administer anesthesia during surgeries and monitor the patient's condition throughout. Another example can include becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) if you enjoy managing others and improving quality control. While these are two examples, the list of specializations is exhaustive. Speak to a mentor who knows you well before choosing an area to specialize in.
Picture your environment
Your specializations help you work in various settings. These settings include hospitals and clinics, schools, public health sectors, correctional facilities, and even research labs. For example, if you enjoy working with the community, you should become a Public Health Nurse. As a Public Health Nurse, you will take care of the community by educating them, spreading awareness on various diseases, and providing primary care. Working in public health means you will need to stay updated with policies that govern the community.
In another instance, if you wish to work in mental health, you may become a psychiatric nurse. As a mental health professional, you may work in psychiatric facilities and rehabs. Different specializations lead to different environments with varying challenges, so you need to decide what environment is the right fit for you.
Gauge your technological literacy
Healthcare is becoming technologically driven. Machine-learning, AI, and big data are now focal points in a thriving medical sector. As a nurse, you may also need to work with new digital tools while delivering patient care. Some specializations such as Nursing Informatics have more digital tasks than manual ones and cater to the more tech-savvy.
You will learn to use complex software, make data predictions, evaluate numbers and generate reports. So, unless you're comfortable with highly complex technology, stick to patient care such as Nurse Practitioner.
Look into the income bracket
Nursing specialization degrees can be advantageous, especially when it comes to money. If you're interested in making good money, you can investigate specializations like Nurse Midwife (CNM) or a Nurse Practitioner (NP).
According to data shared by Nursing License Map, in 2019, CNM made a mean average of about $108,000 while NP's got a mean average of more than $110,000 annually. Therefore, decide how much money you're comfortable making and build your direction towards that monetary goal.
Educate yourself on your state's rules
Every state has a different set of regulations regarding nursing specializations. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia allow nurses to practice independently. If you're in any one of these states, you can practice without a physician's supervision and work with patients directly. These states include Nebraska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.
However, you need to inform yourself about the licensing procedure to practice with no trouble. For example, if you're in Maryland, you can provide primary care without the supervision of a physician. But you need to register with the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) if you want to prescribe drugs
Before pursuing any career, you need to know what the profession holds for you. So, if you're interested in getting a specialization in nursing, you need to do some research. You may need to find specialization degrees online, so you can find a program that matches your needs for a reasonable cost. It would help if you evaluated how comfortable working with patients or enjoy research-oriented spaces.
Don't put your interests and passion in the backseat and pursue a career that others think may be good to pursue. Look into yourself and decide what factors matter, such as technology, the money you will make, the environment you will work in, and state laws. When you can answer your questions, you will find the best specialization for you.