Discovering Your Path: How To Choose the Right Nursing Specialty for You 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

You may have wanted to be a nurse since you were a child, or perhaps this dream developed later in life. But what you may not be sure about is if you’d like to go into a nursing specialty. Or maybe you just aren’t certain which one is right for you.

If you need help choosing a nursing specialty, we’ll give you some things to consider on your path to picking the perfect profession.

We’ll also suggest some nursing specialties you may love and give you a list of the highest-paying gigs in the nursing world.


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Table of Contents


How To Choose a Nursing Specialty

When you decided you wanted to be a nurse, you may not yet have known which specific field you wanted to go into. Or perhaps at the time you didn’t even know how many different nursing specialties there are!

By trying different nursing specialties, you can gain expertise and advanced knowledge in various types of client care through experience, education, and/or certifications. Every nursing specialty is necessary, and each nurse within those specialties may have taken a unique path to get there.

When deciding how to choose a nurse specialty area, you should consider your interests, educational plans, and experience.


Step 1: Consider Your Interests 

You decided to become a nurse because you want to help people, but are there specific groups of people you could help the most by choosing a specialty?

If you have already been through nursing school, think back to when you did your clinical rotations. Did the fast pace of the ER or the smaller but intense patient load of the ICU capture your attention? Perhaps those are specialties you should pursue.

Do children have your heart? You could consider becoming a labor and delivery or pediatric nurse. Have a special connection with the elderly? Geriatric or hospice nursing may be the perfect field for you.

Or maybe you prefer the admin side of nursing rather than working directly with patients. You could end up steering the future of healthcare if you pick a nursing specialty related to policies or IT.

Nursing is a demanding — but rewarding — career, and choosing a specific field that will interest you most day in and day out is a fantastic start to choosing a nursing specialty.


Step 2: Choose Your Educational Path

If you haven’t started (or completed) nursing school yet, planning your educational path could help you know which nursing specialties are available to you. If you have your ASN degree and have passed the NCLEX, there are some specialties you can work in already, such as:

  • Home care
  • Pediatrics
  • Emergency room
  • And more

But each additional level of schooling you complete — whether it is a BSN, master’s, or doctorate level program — allows you to choose from even more nursing specialties plus earn a higher salary and more benefits.

It’s not necessary to have your exact path planned out the day you start nursing school, but if you have a specific specialty in mind you should know what degree you’ll need to pursue to work in it.


Step 3: Consider Shadowing Nurses in Specialties That Interest You

If you’re trying to decide between specific nursing specialties, research the ones that interest you most. You may want to choose what you consider to be your top three and then shadow nurses who work in that field to see if you can narrow down even more.

One great thing about travel nursing is that you may be able to try out different specialties with each assignment to see where your passion lies. Talk to your Trusted Nurse Staffing recruiter about this plan and let them help you map out jobs in various fields.


nursing specialty


How To Choose Which Nursing Specialty To Pursue: 4 Things To Think About for Success

Now that you’ve narrowed it down into a few different fields of interest, let’s examine some specific questions you should ask yourself to find out which nursing specialty you’ll enjoy most and help ensure a successful assignment every time.


#1: Know Your Personality & How It Might Mesh With Specific Specialties

There have been studies showing a relationship between specific personality types and nursing specialty choices, and there is evidence that the right career fit usually leads to less burnout and more job satisfaction.

There isn’t one specific personality type that’s ideal for nursing in general. Some nurses are always calm, even in a crisis situation. Others have cheerful and outgoing personalities that make their patients feel at ease.

The ideal nursing specialty for you will bring out the best in your natural style and your professional abilities. While compassion is a crucial skill for all nurses to have, it may be even more important for those who choose specialties that often come with lots of emotion, such as hospice or oncology.

If you find the things you have to do and say in your everyday work grating against your personality, the specialty you’re currently in may not be the one for you.


#2: What’s Your Ideal Work Environment?

Do you prefer a work atmosphere that’s full of energy and always keeps you on your toes? Maybe you’re even a little bit of an adrenaline junkie? You would probably love working as a trauma nurse, critical care nurse, or even a flight nurse

If those specialties sound stressful and you’d prefer a calmer environment with opportunities to build relationships with your patients, perhaps you should try geriatrics or outpatient surgery. You may even want to become a family nurse practitioner.

If you’d rather work within the community rather than in a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office, you may find school nursing or occupational health interesting.

It’s also important to consider whether you enjoy working as part of a team or like to do a lot of your job on your own. Nursing specialties such as obstetrics and surgery will have you constantly in the middle of a team. But others like home health and even ICU could have you working with patients one-on-one.

If your ideal work environment is one that’s constantly changing, travel nursing is definitely for you. Contact Trusted Nurse Staffing and use their Pronto job search to find available assignments you’ll love.


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#3: Understand Your “Why”

Think about what made you decide to become a nurse in the first place. 

Did you experience a childhood illness and have nurses who took care of you and made you feel special? Do you have a strong desire to change the state of the country’s healthcare system? Perhaps you have a patient and calm demeanor that makes people feel at ease.

No matter what your “why” is, digging into it a little deeper could help you decide what kind of work you want to do and the kinds of patients you wish to help.


#4: What’s Your Desired Salary?

Nursing is a fairly lucrative job overall. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that registered nurses made a median income of $77,600 per year in 2021. But many specialties pay even more than that.

Wages can be based on factors such as demand, location, educational requirements, and more. The highest-paying nursing specialties currently include:

  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
  • Nursing administrator
  • Rehab nurse
  • Certified nurse-midwife
  • Medical-surgical nurse manager
  • Research nurse
  • Pain management nurse
  • Travel nurse
  • Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)
  • Family nurse practitioner (FNP)

If you’re interested in pursuing any of these specialties, contact your Trusted Nurse Staffing recruiter to find out if you have the required background and education.


how to choose a nursing specialty


5 Nursing Specialties To Consider

Trends in travel nursing show that these are some of the most popular specialties to pursue right now.


#1: Labor & Delivery (L&D)

Labor and delivery nurses must:

  • Hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam; and
  • Have at least one year of nursing experience 

L&D nurses give support to parents during the birthing process, provide newborn care, assist with C-sections, and attend to postpartum mothers.

Since a birthing environment can change quickly, labor and delivery nurses have to be flexible and able to make adjustments. They should also be compassionate and reassuring while they support new parents.

The average labor and delivery nurse makes $79,100 per year.


#2: Emergency Room (ER)

Emergency room nurses must:

  • Hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  • Have two years of nursing experience in most cases; and
  • Hold certifications such as Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

ER nurses must be quick on their feet and be able to make split decisions, as they may encounter any type of situation on a daily basis. They have to constantly monitor and assess while trying to put patients and their families at ease. They may also assist ER doctors with many different procedures.

The average ER nurse makes $75,726 per year.


#3: Nurse Practitioner 

Nurse practitioners must:

  • Hold at least a master’s degree
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam; and
  • Pass a certification exam within their specialty, such as those offered by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the National Certification Corporation (NCC)

Nurse practitioners can do many of the things doctors do — such as prescribing medication, making diagnoses, and performing minor procedures — and often serve as patients’ primary caregivers. They typically work within a specialty like women’s health or primary care and should have strong critical thinking and communication skills.

The average nurse practitioner makes $121,224 per year.


#4: Oncology 

Oncology nurses must:

  • Hold at least a bachelor’s degree in most cases; and
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam

After two years of working in oncology, you may choose to become an oncology-certified nurse (OCN) by taking special coursework and passing an exam.

Since oncology nurses treat cancer patients, they need to have lots of compassion and a first-rate bedside manner as they support patients and their families through what may be the most difficult time in their lives. Daily responsibilities include administering chemotherapy, developing treatment plans, and providing education.

The average oncology nurse makes $82,900 per year.


#5: Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Nurse anesthetists must:

  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  • Have at least one year of critical care experience (ER or ICU)
  • Get a master’s degree in a CRNA program; and
  • Pass the certification exam from the NBCRNA

CRNAs administer anesthesia and monitor pain management during surgeries. They must be extremely detail-oriented and attentive before and during procedures.

The average nurse anesthetist makes $208,829 per year.


choose a nursing specialty


No Matter Your Specialty, Trusted Nurse Staffing Can Help You Find the Travel Nurse Assignment That’s Right for You 

If you need to know how to choose a nursing specialty, the folks at Trusted Nurse Staffing will do their best to give you experience in as many different fields as they can.

And with the Pronto job search, it’s easier than ever to find just what you’re looking for. Enter your specifications such as specialties you’re interested in and places you want to travel/work and let Pronto do the rest.


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