Can I Choose a Nursing Specialty While Pursing a Nursing Degree?

While you are studying for your nursing degree, it is extremely important that you know what you plan on doing in the field of nursing following graduation. You can either work in a broad generalist role where you provide routine care to patients, or you can choose to gain a specialized knowledge so that you work with a specific patient demographic or in a specific setting. Dozens and dozens of different specializations are available to pursue as a nurse, but many students who are not yet licensed wonder if it is possible to pursue these same credentials while they are in school. Read this guide to choosing a nursing specialty and decide on the most effective way to become a specialist.

What Types of Nursing Specializations Exist?

Many more possibilities in nursing specialization exist than you might initially assume. Once you enroll in either a nursing certificate program or a bachelor’s degree program majoring in nursing, you will discover just how many different options there are. Before you really can map out a path to take as you specialize your education, you need to learn what area of nursing you want to really specialize in. As an RN, there are more than 80 different certifications that you can seek that will classify you as a specialist. Some of the most popular and in-demand options include: Nurse Practitioners, Nurse-midwives, Family Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse anesthetists, Nurse educators, and Medical-surgical nursing.

What Should I Consider When Selecting a Specialty?

Now that you have an idea of some of your options, you need to know what you should look at to sift through the options and to make your final decision. One important factor to consider is the setting that you will work in. Some settings are much more stressful or take a much larger emotional toll on nursing professionals. The next thing to consider is the patient demographic. Would you prefer to work with children, geriatric patients or patients in any age group? Lastly, consider demand and job outlook. The best jobs are those that will be in-demand for the long term.

Can You Begin to Specialize Your Education Early?

What makes you a specialist is your certification. Before you can get a nurse certification, you need to first possess your Registered Nursing license through your state nursing board. To do this, you will need to complete a nursing program and meet all of the requirements so that you can sit for the NCLEX-RN standardized exam. While a bachelor’s degree will qualify you to sit, there are electives and other courses that you can take to get more specialized knowledge as an undergraduate student. This may not lead you to a specialization immediately, but it will speed up the process. Most specializations will require a minimum of a graduate degree and years of experience in a specific area of medicine.

The demand is high for nursing professionals in most arenas, but the need for specialists is higher than ever. If you would like to get a specialized knowledge and ultimately earn a higher salary, you will need to spend more time studying. You can start to pursue knowledge in the area while you get your nursing degree, but this will just be the start.