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Decide on a Nursing Specialty

Decide on a Nursing Specialty

Beth Anderson, RN

The good news is that you have a wide range of specialties to choose from. The bad news? You have a wide range of specialties to choose from. How do you make up your mind? Fortunately you will have lots of exposure to each one. In nursing school you will typically spend about a semester in each specialty. Here’s a run down of each one:

Adult Health
This encompasses a wide range of specialties from oncology to OR nursing. The benefit to specializing in adult health is that you will build a good solid foundation for your nursing career. The skills you learn in this area can be carried over to other areas; the reverse isn’t always true.

Critical Care
Do you crave excitement? Do you like to be where the action is? Then critical care is for you. It encompasses the ER and the ICU. ICU nursing involves more specialized skills. You have a smaller patient load (often 1-2 patients) but your patients are much more acutely ill.

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Caring for children can be one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences. The challenge? Children aren’t “supposed to get sick” so to see them and care for them in such a state can take its toll on you.

Maternal Health/Labor and Delivery
This is a good specialty to choose if you are interested in women’s health.

Psychiatric Nursing
This involves caring for the mentally ill in various capacities. Psych nurses can facilitate group therapy meetings, and they also carry out care plans for patients who are in the hospital.

Community Health
One thing that you will learn about in nursing school is the importance of health promotion. This is the concept that maintaining health starts with the actions that you take before you get sick. Community health nurses are great facilitators of this concept.

Refer to the Career Specialties profile list for more detailed information on each specialty. For additional information on finding a specialty, please click here.

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