Eileen MSN, RN


Senior vice president & chief nurse executive

What’s your specialty? There’s no shortage of career opportunities in nursing



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urses talk a lot about nursing specialties. We discuss job market reports on the ones that are up and coming, currently trending and most popular. We tell one another which ones might be more likely than others to

provide advancement opportunities. We pass along information about specialty roles opening in diff erent areas of the country and debate whether it makes sense to relocate for one of them. We talk with each other about what’s needed to get into diff erent specialties, and then we talk about whether we’re getting the best information on the experience, degrees or credentials needed. Then there are the questions. We ask questions of our educators, our work col-

leagues, our nurse leaders. Probably one of the most basic and frequent is: “What’s your specialty?” And that’s followed closely by: “How did you get into that specialty?” We also ask other questions that require longer answers: “As a new grad should I go right from school into a specialty area?” “Is changing my specialty considered a good or bad career move?” “How diff erent are salaries from one specialty to the next?” And, “How will I know I’m choosing the specialty that’s right for me?” Why are we always so interested in specialties? Perhaps it’s because most of

us have career goals: We want to continue to grow, change and move ahead; we want to expand our job opportunities, increase our education and grow as professionals over the course of our careers. Maybe we talk about specialties as much as we do because we’ve seen that making periodic moves to new roles in nursing has helped our colleagues accomplish their career goals. Throughout nursing’s history, as medicine expanded into new and diff erent

specialty areas, so too did our opportunities to be part of them. Each new spe- cialty that came along in medicine meant nurses would be needed to work in it, and today, the specialties within our profession number more than 100. That’s a lot of diff erent career possibilities — and is, perhaps, the answer to why we talk about specialties as much as we do. In this issue’s feature story we discuss specialties some nurses have chosen,

why they love them and why they chose them. We look at the diff erent skills that helped them and the experience and expertise they found they needed to break into their new roles. We also explore some of the personality traits and personal characteristics that made each of their specialties a good fi t. How fortunate we are as nurses to have as many career opportunities as we

do. RNs make up the largest group of healthcare workers in the nation, and we can practice anywhere in the country we choose, in any setting from acute care to long-term care, inpatient to outpatient, with the young or the old, in homes, hospitals, offi ces, schools and more. The possibilities are endless. Shortages in certain specialties and geographic areas will come and go. What’s

trending now, what’s new, hot or popular will continue to change. What will never change is the need, the possibilities and the importance of each specialty in this great profession of ours. I guess that’s why we’ll never stop talking about them or asking one another: “What’s your specialty?” •

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