Nursing is one of the most popular jobs in healthcare. There are many career paths from which to choose, and most every community in the United States employs nurses. Because there are so many places a registered nurse may choose to work, how do you decide?
New nurses with little experience may get their feet wet with general patient care, such as in a medical or surgical unit in a hospital and later moving into a specialization such as critical care nursing. Be realistic, because some areas of specialization require experience. Ask yourself these questions to see what area may suit you best now or as your experience level grows.
Would you like to work with a certain age group?
If you enjoy working with children, consider working on a hospital’s pediatric surgical unit or in a pediatrician’s office. If you want to work with newborns, then think about a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or an obstetric unit. On the other end of the spectrum, working with the elderly in a long term care facility (nursing home), a hospice or hospital cardiac unit may be fulfilling.
Would you like to work in an office environment?
There are benefits to working in a physician’s office, school, church or in a correctional facility. The hours may appeal to you, along with the opportunity to build rapport with regularly seen patients.
Want to explore the non-patient care side?
After working with patients for awhile, some RNs choose to go into hospital administration, psychiatric nursing, legal nursing or insurance. While these roles don’t require much, if any, hands-on patient care, patient care knowledge will be invaluable in moving into these career paths.
Have a desire to teach?
Interested in teaching the next generation of nurses? Then you can explore a move to teaching at a nursing school. Nurses lecture in the classroom and also may be the lead for a group of students in their clinical rotations.
Do you want to be challenged?
Flight, military, emergency room, operating room and critical care nurses care for the sickest of patients and often bring to the table years of experience in dealing with life or death situations. These nurses need to be confident in their skills and be ready to face challenges head on either alone or with others on the care team. Would this be right for you?
Do you crave change?
Some RNs like to change jobs with the seasons as is the case with travel nurses. Travel nurses work for a travel agency and get to select their assignments based on location and length. Typically assignments are measured in weeks. If you want to ski the slopes in winter and then try big city living in the summer, being a travel nurse may be for you.
In this profession, nurses can experience many specialties throughout their careers. Which will you choose?