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How did you pick a nursing specialty?

I have heard everything from people ready to set foot on the floor immediately, to having no clue where to start. Are there any tips or signs of what specialty would be best for a nurse? #nursing #medicine #nurse #healthcare

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Teresa’s Answer

Hi Elissa-   Great question!   I have been a nurse for more than 30 years and have been in a position to interview nurses for the NICU for more than 10 years.   I have found that many nurses never considered a specialty when going thru school--   they often were told that they should do some general "med surg" before deciding.   I think every nurse is different in this regards-  Many of the people who interview for the NICU had some experience with it before (a family member or friend with a NICU baby).   Some nurses told me that they were in a nursing clinical day when they realized that they wanted to be a "peds" nurse or a "labor and delivery" nurse.   I have also noticed that some nurses have worked in some area for many years but have decided to "reinvent" themselves and go down a specialty path.  

The one thing I personally believe from my experience is that it's never too late or too early to choose a nursing field.  I believe that nurses do a better job and are more fulfilled when they are working where they feel their passion.   Your path may be direct to a specialty, or it may be a winding road leading you from one area to another--   Just be sensitive to opportunities and you can make a difference in the lives of the patients you care for as well as feel satisfied with your position.

Best of luck!

Teresa

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Grace’s Answer

When I first started as a nurse, I had no idea what I wanted to specialize in but knew that I eventually wanted to work in ICU. Once I began working in ICU, I remember during a skills fair (where nurses review clinical skills), this one nurse was able to diagnose what side of the heart a patient was having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) just by looking at heart pressure measurements. I was impressed and amazed. After that, I became fascinated with the heart and decided to learn everything I could about cardiology. I then worked in a cardiac catheterization lab because I wanted to learn in depth about cardiac interventions. In the past few years, I worked in a cardiology office and learned about electrophysiology (the electrical system of the heart). To this day, I still love learning about the heart.


Grace recommends the following next steps:

See what area of medicine/nursing interests you and try to find a nursing job in that field. If you are unsure, work on a med/surg or step down critical care unit to be exposed to different areas of medicine/nursing.
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Wanda’s Answer

I would suggest getting some experience on the medical-surgical floor first. Get a basic knowledge out of school. This is where you truly learn to become a nurse. When I decided to venture out, I knew that I wanted to start with a small acuity floor (6-8 patient unit). Mental illness is dear to my heart. I decided to try this area, not knowing if it would be my specialty, and ended up loving it. I landed my first specialty job as a psychiatric geriatric (elderly) nurse. Think of what area interest you the most, as Nursing is very broad. You may have to try an area to see if you connect. Good luck!
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