Some nurses enter the nursing field knowing exactly what type of nurse they want to be. There are those who have their sights set on labor and delivery from day one, and others who are dedicated to pediatrics before even sending in their nursing school application. There are those who only know they want to be a nurse and are just happy to find a decent job after graduation, but they mind find themselves wondering, “What kind of nurse should I be?”
If you’re one of the latter types of nurses, don’t be discouraged. Nursing has so many specialties and job options. Some options seem more obvious than others. It’s a diverse field with many opportunities and there’s a perfect job for you out there if you just know where to look.
Below are some thoughts to consider as you narrow down what type of nurse you should be and what specialty speaks best to you.
What Kind of Nurse Should I Be? First, Ask Yourself What Interests You About the Nursing Field.
You decided to go into nursing for a reason. Make a list of what interested you about the nursing field enough to choose it as a career.
Maybe your reason is to help people feel better. Maybe you’re fascinated by human biology and disease processes. Or perhaps you have personal experience with a certain disease and want to help patients in similar situations as a way of giving back.
Whatever the case, use that list to pick out the top traits that made you come to the field in the first place. That list will act as your guide and a reminder as you begin to navigate the vast and varied field of nursing.
Take Notes on What You Like and Dislike During Clinicals
One of the best things about nursing school is that you have to work in a variety of settings and specialties. Take advantage of these clinical hours and pay close attention to what you like and don’t like about working in that particular capacity. Picture yourself working there full time.
Are the patients’ health issues interesting enough to you to keep you engaged and eager to learn everything you can about that specialty? Do you like having new patients every day or seeing the same patients multiple days in a row? Do you like the fast-paced, unpredictable nature that comes with departments like emergency services, or do you like the long-term relationships you develop with patients in long-term care and rehab?
Consider Patient Demographics
As you go through clinicals, take notice of which type of patient demographic you prefer to work with most. Knowing this can help you narrow down where you should look for a specialty.
For some people, that’s geriatric patients in long-term care. For others, it’s pediatric patients in pediatric hospitals. Others prefer working with pregnant patients and babies on labor and delivery units. And other people find it most rewarding to work in substance abuse and behavioral health clinics.
Don’t Forget Your Other Skills
Nurses are expected to fulfill a variety of responsibilities and roles. In a single shift, you could play the role of writer, artist, educator, housekeeper, and counselor on top of your regular nursing duties. That list doesn’t even include your hobbies and skills outside of health care. If there’s a particular set of skills or a particular hobby that you excel at, consider a nursing job that plays to your strengths.
If you love teaching, look to a school or community center that uses nurses to teach. Or maybe you find that you’ve taken up a hobby in coding. Technology companies that develop software and applications for use by health care professionals might just be looking for an experienced, expert opinion on how to make their product better.
You might be a nurse, but you’re many other roles, too. Your individual experiences make you valuable and unique, and you might find that you’re the perfect fit for a job that other people might overlook.
Don’t Lose Hope If One Nursing Job Doesn’t Feel Right
In the same vein of not forgetting your other skills, you may find that your current nursing job just isn’t cutting it. If you find yourself burning out or venting about your frustrations far more than you’d like, reassess that job and why you feel that way.
If it has to do with the job itself and not the specialty, then look for another job in the same specialty. If you find that the specialty itself isn’t at all what you want or need for your career, consider trying a new specialty that best aligns with your goals, talents, and interests.
Nursing is a type of career that has so many different choices and options to choose from if you just know what you’re looking for and where to look. Don’t feel like you’re stuck in one place with nowhere else to go.
What Kind of Nurse Should I Be? Think Outside of the Norm
The perfect nursing job for you might not be one that many people think of when they hear you’re a nurse. It might not even be one you know exists yet.
Be open to trying something new and looking in different or unusual places. Don’t think you have to limit yourself to looking for jobs at strictly health care facilities where you’d normally expect nurses to work.
Nurses can work in marketing departments, administrative offices, law practices, mobile clinics, blood donation centers, or out in the community running educational workshops or public health studies.
The perfect specialty and job might not come quickly or easily, but if you keep developing your skills and honing your passion, you’ll find the place you’re meant to be.