Published on January 8, 2018
Choosing a Nursing Specialty According to an Expert
Choosing a nursing specialty can have many advantages, offering you better job prospects and increased salary potential while allowing you to dedicate yourself to something you love. But how do you go about choosing?
We asked Nurse Educator, Cheryl Nair to share her tips with us!
Why You Need a Specialty
According to Nair, a nursing career offers many benefits – especially in allowing you to provide care to the ill when they need it most. Nair says that nursing is a very special area which she says provides, “flexibility in working hours, and a huge variety of different roles across hospitals, aged care facilities, GP clinics, education and corporate health.”
However, with so many different fields of specialisation and different areas of work, choosing a speciality early on is becoming increasingly important.
“It’s beneficial to choose a speciality as more healthcare facilities expect that nurses employed in a certain area have the qualifications and experience to provide the best care for their patients or clients,” Nair says. “Student nurses should have some idea at the end of their final year of a possible speciality. Their graduate year will give them more variety and enable them to make the final decision.”
To help point you in the right direction, Nair recommends asking yourself the following questions.
Choosing Your Speciality
What Am I Passionate About?
The first thing Nair says nurses and students should consider is what they are passionate about. “Ask yourself; do I love working in this area?” She says, “Most people will have an idea of their strengths in a particular area of nursing.” The more you love where you work, the less it will feel like a chore. And with the potential of long hours and busy days, being motivated in your area of expertise is essential in providing the highest level of quality care to your patients. After all, it’s those that love their job that is the best at what they do.
What Speciality Suits Your Personality and Lifestyle?
Every speciality has its own unique pace and environment so it helps to consider the effect the job will have on you and your lifestyle. “I wish someone had told me the effect my speciality would have on my life, body and mental state,“ Nair says. “So ask yourself if your speciality is sustainable to give you a good work-life balance so you don’t burn out.” Some lifestyle questions to consider include how well you deal with pressure, especially with large workloads and hours, how much personal contact you want to have with patients and what hours you want to work now and in the future. Most importantly, think about the physical and mental impact the job will have on you over both the short and long term.
Where Do You Want to Work?
Do you seek to travel and adventure or are you happy to settle down where you are? For those who want to travel, some specialities are certainly more transferable than others. On the other hand, if you are sure you want to stay put, it’s a good idea to seek out specialities that are in demand in your local area. For a lot of people, nursing is a great career if you want to avoid the dreaded desk job. It often requires a lot of running around and moving from place to place for the duration of your shift.
“There are a huge variety of nursing courses in Australia that will enable you to obtain qualifications in the areas you wish to pursue,” advises Nair. “Of course, each of these come at a price so it’s also a good idea to consider how much it will cost you to gain your qualifications.” Most nursing courses are covered by government funding for those who are eligible. It’s also a great future investment, with the average income sitting around $69,000. At the end of the day, having the ability to defer your education repayments until you reach the HECS threshold means you can study what you love in the meantime and worry about the expenses later.
While having a speciality is a great way to further your career and follow your passion, you may not want to work in this area for your entire working life. For this reason, Nair suggests looking into alternative career options your special offers. “Ask yourself if your speciality can be used in other areas and departments, and where you want to be in 20 years time.” She says. The skills you can gain in a nursing course can be used in a huge variety of areas, from allied health, community service, health promotion and even in specific areas such as nutrition or aged care.
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