Specialties: Where Do I Belong?

Specialties: Where Do I Belong?

During and even before my nursing school career, people always seem to have the same question. “Do you know what specialty you want to be in?” Before nursing school, I knew the answer to that in 2 seconds! But as time went on through school, the more experiences I had in all the amazing specialty groups, the answer progressively changed. I would think about my original answer and then make a pros and cons list about a new specialty I am interested in! The process went on and on, and there is no specific timeline of when this must be done, but I did want to take the time to share some advice and tips that might help you along the journey of making that choice!

1. There is no right or wrong answer… just know what YOU want out of your career!

More often than not, instructors, cohorts, friends, and family may have suggestions on what you should be doing. What specialty they can “see you” in. Do not get me wrong; it always makes me feel good when people make these comments because it helped guide my thinking and decision-making process! BUT, I also had always to remember if it had never really interested me in the first place, that may not be the place for me!

2. On units you are interested in, ASK THE QUESTIONS!

For one of your clinical rotations, you get the opportunity to go to your area of interest; WHAT DO I DO?! Take a breath, make sure to get plenty of rest, and go into that day with an open mind and ask questions! Several times in units, I would be interested in the specialty; I always made sure to let the nurse I was shadowing know. Most of the time, those nurses ensured to answer any questions I had and make sure I got all of the experiences possible to see if that was truly a field I liked and could see myself doing that line of work for years to come. Do not be afraid to ask questions that may be on your mind at the appropriate times, of course, but those nurses will almost always be there to help support you

3. Network, network, network!

When on specialty units of interest, never be afraid to take every opportunity to introduce yourself and talk with a variety of different people on the unit. Nurses, charge nurses, physicians, surgeons, CNA/NT, labs; mingle and let them know your interest! I have applied for a job, and when I went in for an interview, the hiring manager recognized me and remembered me from my experiences on the unit! BOOM! I already knew one person, and they knew about the experiences I had and my interest. That helped me get my foot in the door with an already good impression of the hiring manager. 

4. Make a Pros and Cons list.

Take the time if you are stuck between specialties; write out the pros and cons of the different specialties. Include things such as your goals in the next year, three years, and five years and see if it fits within those goals. Have you applied for jobs? Maybe add the pros and cons of benefit packages, tuition reimbursement if provided, PTO, etc. Take your time and write out all your thoughts, dreams, and goals! I promise it will come to you. 

5. Enlist the help of faculty or staff

IF you remain stuck and do not know which way to go. Take your pros and cons/ goals sheet and maybe set up a time to meet with different staff or faculty at school you trust and talk it through with them. Perhaps you just need someone to help guide your thought process. I know for me, utilizing this really helped!

6. Follow your gut!

I can not emphasize enough the importance of going into a specialty that YOU love. Do not allow the pressures from outside noise to get in the way of your dream. I know, easier said than done… but you have to remember which direction you choose to go, maybe your career for a few years… so make sure you wake up excited to go into the job and happy to be there! 

Good luck on your journey; wherever you go, you are going to be AMAZING!!! 


Written by: Haley Goff

Instagram: nursehaleyy

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