While choosing nursing as your career may have been a simple decision, your choice of nursing specialization may not be so easy. After all, there are dozens of areas where you can work in any health care organization as well as numerous specialty organizations that offer home health and hospice care. You could even put your nursing education to work behind the desk at an insurance company or in case management. With so many choices, you may be worried that you will not find the right career path that makes you feel happy and fulfilled right out of nursing school. Instead of filling your mind with anxiety over this question, use these five helpful tips to guide you in the right direction.
Test Your Interests While in School
The best time to get a good idea of what area of medicine most interests you is while you are still in school. Your clinical experiences give you great times to test the waters and work with a variety of patients in all types of facilities. You should have opportunities to be in the operating room, work in labor and delivery, spend time on a general medical/surgical floor and even head into a psychiatric ward. Once you get a feel for what you most like, request to have your preceptorship hours completed on that type of unit.
Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Understanding your strengths as well as your personality can point you in the right direction. For example, if you are highly organized and love to play by the rules, the operating room could be the right place for you. However, if you get a bigger thrill out of uncertainty and love never knowing what you will be doing next, the emergency room would be a better fit.
Consider Your Ideal Hours and Facility
Most hospital floor jobs will require you to work a variety of days and weekends and will probably have you working day, evening and nighttime hours. If you are looking for a weekday job only with more regular hours, a clinic or home health agency may be a better fit for you. You could also consider private practices and schools.
Think About the Age Group with Which You Feel Most Comfortable
Not only will you need to choose where you will work, but also you will need to choose the age group with which you work. You may love newborns, children, OB patients or senior citizens. Consider the age group with whom it is easiest for your to interact and communicate.
Never Be Afraid of a Change
Remember that the job you choose right out of nursing school is not the one you will have forever. Most nurses changes specialties several times throughout their careers. While some make a change to get better hours that mesh with their family life, others look for changes to keep their practices interesting and exciting.
Whatever nursing path you choose, make sure that you feel fulfilled by your work. Although not every day will be filled with excitement and glamour, you should feel that you are making a difference in those around you. Whether you eventually become a nurse manager or spend all of your years working as a floor nurse, what you do is incredibly important to your community.