Just as there are many different paths a nurse can take, many different factors weigh on whether or not choosing a nursing career path will suit a given nurse. Some specialities will help the nurse’s wallet a little more, some will help their feelings of accomplishment, and some will require extensive training beyond the general scale of the education most nurses receive.
Technology, future expectations, locale, and more all factor in as well, and here is a closer look at 5 aspects to consider once you’ve passed your NCLEX and are scoping out your future in nursing.
As the adage goes, “it’s not what you do, but who you work with.” In nursing, you’ll rarely find yourself in a situation where you get to choose who you work with, but you can select a path that will have more or less human interaction than others. Introverted RNs, BSNs, and other nurses may find a life in research or forensics nursing more personally rewarding, as patient interactions are few.
Extroverted nurses may want to specialise in paediatrics, family care, emergency/critical care units, where patient interactions are daily, and relationship building is also important.
Some nurses thrive under pressure, and others prefer an easier day-to-day routine. Luckily, extremes of both of these exist for nurses, as well as everything in between. For those looking for high-pressure scenarios, emergency care offers many different sub-specialities and is constant pressure. On the opposite end of the spectrum, administrative and research nursing are critical and still save lives, but don’t have the “be prepared for anything” pressures of ER nursing jobs. Critical care and childbirth offer nice mixes of both.
Many nursing jobs occur primarily, or in full, totally away from hospitals. If you’ve developed any distaste for hospital settings during clinicals, fear not, as there are other options. School nurses are constantly in demand; educators and leadership trainers also tend to avoid hospitals, at least in the sense of their duties needing a hospital to be performed.
Some job options offer settings that could arguably be deemed more exciting than hospitals, such as helicopter nurses, correctional facility healthcare specialists, and those in government programs.
Many healthcare advances are tech-driven, and many fields of nursing require a lot of interaction with high-tech equipment. This can mean many changes and almost constant training on new equipment, which can be appealing to some and not to others. There are nursing options for both. Anything that focuses on imaging, such as ultrasounds and MRIs, generally has specialists who work solely on the given imaging equipment and need healthcare providers to bridge the gap between the technology and the patients.
Jobs on the other end of the tech spectrum include pediatric care, geriatric care, and integrative medicine. However, all nurses should be ready for a total move to electronic health record-keeping in the next decade.
One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic helped advance was capabilities in remote work. Obviously not healthcare, many other industries moved 100% of their business online to deal with stay-at-home orders and other legislation related to the pandemic. Telehealth was the only option for many when hospitals were giving all of their attention to COVID patients, and advancements in the practice proved to be very effective. Telehealth allows for cost reductions, which is a huge trend in healthcare right now, so demand will be high for remote nurses long after the pandemic is a thing of the past.
You Can Always Change
Attitudes change, people get worn out, life situations change, and individuals grow. The lateral moves that a career in nursing allow are great for this, and it’s important to know that you’re not stuck in a given speciality, especially if you realize early that you chose wrong. Training is all you need for most of these choices, and many hospitals will help you with the bill if you realize your chosen path was the wrong one.
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Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.