Nursing is a challenging and rewarding career that is highly accessible to most people. It requires strong problem-solving abilities, great interpersonal skills, and a practical mindset, as well as the desire to ensure the well-being of others.
But what is it like in terms of job progression? How easy is it to apply your own particular skills and pursue your own interests when working as a nurse?
In this article, we explore the idea of specialism within the field of nursing. We’ll explain the ways in which you can specialize, as well as the possible reasons for doing so.
We’ll also look into how selecting a specialty can impact your job satisfaction and the furtherment of your career.
What Is Specialization In Nursing?
Once you have your RN (registered nurse) license and/or BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree, a vast number of additional roles will be open to you. If you decide to focus on a particular area of medicine as your career continues, you will need to earn suitable qualifications to help you specialize.
Of course, you may wish to work in an RN role for some time in order to gain further on-the-job experience and to get a sense of the specific field you may wish to enter – or, indeed, you may be happy to continue within that role indefinitely.
However, if you already have a strong interest in a particular area of medicine, you might prefer to pursue further training as soon as possible.
What Should Your Nursing Specialty Be?
Of course, to achieve the highest levels of job satisfaction, the specialty you choose should reflect your interests and priorities. What do you consider to be the most important aspect of your working life – and to what do you aspire?
This can be something as simple as achieving the right salary to afford a particular life goal, such as travel or your dream home. Nursing – particularly in specialist fields – can be a very well-paid role. If this is your priority, there are many positions for which you can aim to boost your salary.
However, you may also have a particular personal or scientific interest in specific fields of medicine that stretches beyond their potential to pay well.
There are as many “types” of nursing as there are medical disciplines. Md.com provides an extensive list, the basics of which can be found below:
- Addiction Medicine
- Adolescent Medicine
- Aerospace Medicine
- Allergy / Immunology Medicine
- Behavioral Medicine
- Cosmetic Surgery
- Critical Care Medicine
- ENT / Otolaryngology
- Family Medicine
- Functional Medicine
- General Practice
However, with more conditions and treatments being explored constantly, there is always the likelihood of new specialties arising.
According to nurse.org, nurse “types” include CNAs (certified nursing assistants), RNs (registered nurses) and LPNs (licensed practical nurses) as well as roles that are only achievable with a master’s degree, such as:
- NPs (nurse practitioners)
- CNMs (certified nurse midwives)
- CRNAs (certified registered nurse anesthetists)
- Clinical nurse specialists
- Nurse educators
- Nurse administrators
- Clinical nurse leaders
How Do I Specialize In Something As A Nurse?
Once you have achieved your RN license and/or BSN degree, your next step should be to decide which field of medicine interests you the most.
It’s important to take your time when making this decision, as you will be investing a significant amount of effort in developing your skills in this field – and it will form the basis of your career for years to come.
Next, you should look into courses that will provide you with the qualifications you need in order to specialize. Usually, these take the form of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
While your bachelor’s will have set you up with a good general understanding of the majority of medical fields, your master’s is the time to explore the particular field in which you wish to specialize.
An MSN usually takes two to three years to complete. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an additional option for those prioritizing nursing authority. However, you’ll need to earn your MSN before you can pursue this most advanced nursing qualification.
It is possible to undertake a range of different MSNs, DNPs – or even MSN to DNP conversions – online. This allows you to do much of your studying off campus and to continue to earn while you work on your qualification.
Programs of this kind are also very practical for students with other responsibilities – such as childcare – due to their remote nature. This aspect also means that you don’t have to be based near an educational institution that offers the right program for your requirements, as commuting is rarely required.
Many MSN degrees require you to specialize right from the start. These programs will have names such as Master of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner, Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator and Master of Science in Nursing: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
But why should you think about pursuing either MSN or DNP degree? What will the benefits be to you and your further career?
Why Should You Specialize In A Certain Field Of Nursing?
Once you begin work as an RN or LPN, you may wonder: why consider an MSN degree at all? After all, you are now a qualified nurse – and, according to salary.com, RNs at Level 1 currently earn an average annual salary of $66,600, while LPNs typically earn $51,204 and a CNA averages $34,352. However, you will have far greater earning potential once you have achieved a degree in a specialist medical field.
What’s more, you will be able to focus on a field that you have chosen for yourself – which is almost invariably more rewarding. You are likely to find your work more interesting if it is concentrated on a subject that is important to you.
It’s even possible to combine interests. For example, if you have considered both nursing and teaching as career paths in the past, you might be interested in studying for your MSN to become a nurse educator. Furthermore, your career prospects will be far better. When considering an MSN degree at an institution like Walsh University, the more you specialize, the rarer you become! There will be less competition for jobs within your field than for general RN or LPN roles. If you wish to move on or relocate in the future, finding work will be far easier. After all, there is an extremely high demand for qualified medical specialists in almost every area of the industry.
If you feel you are ready to further your nursing career by specializing, all you need to do is to search for the right MSN degree online.
You may prefer to prioritize high-ranking educational institutions, then choose the most relevant program from their available selection. Otherwise, if you know the precise field in which you’d like to specialize, you may decide to base your search around the terms “MSC Nursing” and the name of your chosen field.
Keep in mind that in order to apply for these programs, you’ll already need to have all of the qualifications required by the school. This usually includes an RN license and/or BSN degree.
Once you have your MSN and you have entered your specialist field, you may decide that your career aspirations have been fulfilled. It is both exciting and comforting to know that you have found your niche within the medical field and that you are earning the correct salary for your requirements.
However, if you wish to progress further within the industry, you may choose to spend a few more years building experience within your current field of expertise, then seek out additional training and qualifications – or you might decide to take the next step right away.
There are a plethora of on-the-job training opportunities and qualifications available in the medical field, and there are also many courses available at educational institutions that will help you take great leaps forward.
Whilst there are numerous benefits of advanced degrees in nursing, from specialization certifications to various advanced degrees, the career opportunities that become available offer flexibility in qualification options. However, finding your specialty is almost always a core part of making progress within the medical sector.
From getting your RN license to achieving your doctorate, if you are able to carve a niche for yourself by developing expert knowledge of a certain area of medicine, the more successful and rewarding your career is likely to be.