Which nursing specialization is right for you?
It’s difficult to find a more important professional to the overall well-being of society than nurses. From caring for infants to helping the elderly live their last days in comfort, nurses are critical to a well-functioning and healthy community. Relatively few people take time to consider all of the ways in which they help people throughout their lives, however, and the different specialties nurses must master in order to provide the best care possible. There are a number of ways that nurses make a difference in the lives of their patients. Let’s take a look at the different areas of specialization in nursing and how you can incorporate your interests and goals into a career in nursing.
Common areas of specialization in nursing:
- Pediatric nursing
The first area we’ll discuss is pediatric nursing. Pediatric nurses work with children of varying ages spanning from newborns to adolescents. They must be able to provide healthcare services designed to help the population grow. Immunizations, family education, and developmental screenings are all part of a balanced care regimen for children and their families, particularly for first-time parents or caregivers.
Students and nurses interested in pediatric nursing are generally able to find opportunities to work in the field. Pediatric clinics, pediatric departments located within larger healthcare organizations, and hospitals are all potential workplaces for this kind of nurse.
- Critical care nursing
Critical care nursing is the opposite of pediatric nursing in that there is little routine about it. These nurses do not see patients who are healthy and visiting the hospital for an annual checkup. On the contrary, they work with patients who are in dire need of help. Critical care nurses work in intensive care units (ICUs) to provide specialized care to injured and critically ill patients. This includes tasks such as implementing and adhering to complex treatment plans, collaborating with multidisciplinary teams designed to provide comprehensive care to patients, and closely monitoring a patient’s vitals.
Students and nurses interested in this specialization can learn more by completing workshops and other educational programs focused on critical care nursing. They can also seek work in emergency rooms and other departments with high numbers of critically ill or injured patients. Note that the latter examples are open to registered nurses and students completing fieldwork to complete their nursing degrees. Students who are just beginning their degrees likely won’t have those opportunities.
- Geriatric nursing
Geriatric nurses work with older adults and address the age-related health challenges they face. They promote healthy aging, work with patients to manage chronic conditions, and create detailed care plans designed to give their patients lives that are as independent and happy as possible. Understanding conditions that tend to develop later in life such as dementia is critical to caring for this population.
Students and nurses can learn more about this specialization by working in geriatric care settings. This includes nursing homes, outpatient clinics specializing in geriatric care, and assisted living facilities. Both students and nurses are typically able to find educational opportunities relating to geriatric care, too.
- Psychiatric and mental health nursing
We spoke a little bit about treating mental conditions such as dementia above, but there are many other mental health challenges that require dedicated and competent care to overcome. Psychiatric and mental health nurses are critical to providing patients with the right treatment at the right time. They often work directly with a patient to assess their state and symptoms, design therapeutic interventions, and work closely with other mental health professionals to provide comprehensive and cohesive care.
Students and nurses interested in this specialization have a few options. Students can focus on psychology and psychiatry during their undergraduate students to gain a solid foundation in the field while registered nurses might consider ongoing education and experience working in community mental health centers, mental health clinics, and psychiatric hospitals.
- Oncology nursing
The last specialization we’ll talk about today is oncology. Oncology nurses care for patients fighting cancer. They administer chemotherapy, help manage side effects from both the disease and the chemotherapy, while also providing patients and their families with education about symptom management at home. Additionally, some nurses help patients better understand the disease and the various treatment options available to them.
Students and nurses interested in oncology nursing should seek out workshops and certifications specific to the specialization. Seeking employment in cancer treatment centers, oncology departments, and research institutions can also help them further their career goals.
How can I pick a specialization based on my interests?
Students can use their interests and career goals to pick a specialization in a few different ways. First, research the specialty areas of nursing available (the above is not an exhaustive list) and look for the ones that relate to your interests. Some people have the desire to go into oncology nursing after caring for a loved one with the disease, for example.
Once you have a specialization in mind, it’s time to find the right university. The best colleges feature accelerated classes that prepare you not only for full-time work but also give you the foundation to build on as you pursue your specialty of choice. Holy Family University is a good example of this. Holy Family University offers a comprehensive remote BSN program to help students get through school and begin their careers as soon as possible.
Once you are studying for your degree, you’ll want to a.) build your professional network, and b.) pursue specialized and continuing education. Some students are able to take classes in their specialization of choice while others pursue more detailed instruction after graduation. While studying, you might also inquire about clinical rotations in your chosen area. This can be a good way to make sure that line of work is the right choice for you while also giving you invaluable experience.