Eight years ago, if you had asked me which nursing specialty I was interested in, I would have been clueless. Today, I have a clear idea of which specialty I like best. Choosing your specialty involves a lot of trial and error and some time and patience.
Here’s how you can find out which specialty is right for you:
1. Work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at a hospital or nursing home.
I did a few clinical rotations at an assisted living facility eight years ago and realized it was not a specialty I was interested in. Do not get me wrong, geriatric facilities are wonderful and there is so much to see and do. I would say the best part about that particular specialty is that you will bond with the residents. For me, it felt like my home away from home.
2. Position yourself for new experiences.
If you think you might like to work in a hospital setting, and want to expose yourself to other nursing specialties, I highly recommend applying as a CNA (also known as nurse tech) in the hospital “float pool.” This will automatically open so many doors for you because you will not be assigned to the same unit every week.
The point of the float pool is that whenever any floor needs an extra staff member, the shift is yours if you want it. You might find yourself working in ICU one night, the ER the next night, and so on. Working the float pool is one way that you can dip your toes into all specialties and see what you like.
3. Work on different units.
You can accomplish this through job shadowing or by switching to a new unit a couple years into your first job. Either way, you will eventually find something you enjoy.
4. Know your academic weakness, strengths.
Some students are great with cardiac topics and are happy when they end up working in a cardiac unit. Some students enjoy studying pediatrics or similar topics. While in school, figure out the nursing topics you enjoy the most. Your grades will reflect your confidence in those topics as well.
5. Do research online.
In addition to gaining experience with different specialties and practices, read up on other positions that might appeal to you. Through my own research, I found a quiz that shows you the types of specialties that might suit your interests. Give it a try and see what you think.
6. Don’t put too much stock in what other people say.
I would highly recommend that you take other peoples’ experiences with a grain of salt because everyone experiences things in a different way. What someone might dislike, you might absolutely love. Be mindful of that when peers say negative or positive things about any specialty.
Take my experience, for example. For years, my peers told me that the ER was crazy and chaotic. I got floated to the E.R. several times and each time it was an amazing experience. I knew then that I found my specialty.
Make sure you try out as many or all specialties if you can. Only then will you be able to decide which specialty works for you.
Find the specialty that's perfect for you.
Take our nursing specialty quiz to determine what type of career as a nurse you might be interested in. Whether you’ve never been a nurse, are a new nursing grad looking for a specialty or an experienced RN exploring options, Herzing University can help you discover your ideal nursing career.