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Do You Have a Career Plan? What Type of Nursing is Right for You?

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Cynthiahowardrnphd has 36 years experience and specializes in Leadership Development.

12 Articles; 13,878 Profile Views; 73 Posts

Are you confused about what area in nursing to go into?

Nursing is a great career offering so many alternatives. It can be overwhelming and confusing unless you first check in with yourself and find out what will suit your lifestyle, personality and ultimate goals. Most people plan their vacation more carefully than their career. This quick read article will help you tune into yourself to discover what is really important to you. This is going to make all the difference for you as you consider the many options in nursing

Do You Have a Career Plan?  What Type of Nursing is Right for You?
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Nursing has so much to offer, the choices can seem overwhelming. When I was in school, I was given the advice that in the first 2 years of nursing, one should work in a hospital on a general medical surgical floor.

I am not sure this advice is still relevant.

It wasn't for me. I knew I wanted to work in an intensive care unit and in nursing school, I worked part time in one. If I had spent my early years working to "build experience", I think I may have quit.

I knew I wanted to focus on one or two patients and do everything I could for them rather than manage more patients in a team approach. I knew I wasn't good at delegating and instead much better at initiating action so working in an ICU suited my personality. It wasn't as easy as some of my friends in school who literally walked out of their clinical rotation to a position on that unit, but with persistence and a plan, I did get hired.

What are your interests?

Knowing where to start in nursing is really more about you as an individual than it is about what type of nursing you choose to do. What are your goals, objectives, preferences for lifestyle? What do you want to do in 2 years, 5 years and 10 years?

While it is often stated that a person will have 7 careers in their lifetime, no one really knows how many careers a person will have. This number has been attributed to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) but it was not actually reported by them.

What is better known is that early in a person's career there can be more change as opposed to later. This may be an indication there wasn't enough preparation to find out what niche is right for you or an indication that as you grow in nursing you grow as an individual and your goals change. Both are true. When you care for people with the responsibility to ensure a positive patient experience, how can you as an individual not be affected? Stay in touch with yourself and manage this change consciously and you are better prepared to know what niche is best for you. This makes it important to check in with yourself and rethink your original goals and ideas. Are they still relevant today?

What are your long term goals?

It is important to work with the end in mind. Spend a little time looking ahead and thinking about what you ultimately want. The following questions may help you sort it out:

  1. What is your lifestyle like? Do you want/need a set schedule?
  2. Do you prefer working shifts?
  3. How important is it to control your own schedule?
  4. Do you like adventure as in Disaster or Flight nursing or Travel nursing?
  5. Do you like/ enjoy change?
  6. What is your 2 year, 5 year and 10 year plan?
  7. Do you want to have a family, stay home with your children?
  8. Do you want to teach, publish, become a Nurse Practitioner?
  9. Do you want to become a manager, nurse leader?
  10. Are you interested in policy, global initiatives, politics?

Another option is to hire a Career Coach to assess and evaluate your interests and strengths. Coaches will have tools that can identify your interest and the areas that coincide with it helping you narrow the list down. Visit those areas and or organizations that spark your interest. Talk to other nurses who are at the top in that field. You want to choose the nurses carefully that you talk to as you want to avoid someone who has lost interest but continues to work in the field.

Another important consideration is the environment or culture of the organization. Healthcare institutions have a different culture and appeal to nurses with certain goals for positions in administration and leadership positions as opposed to a company that is more entrepreneurial such as a medical device or pharmaceutical company. If you like to have freedom and autonomy in your day to day responsibilities you may decide that you enjoy working in a for-profit organization.

It is also important to consider where you are in your life and what would best serve your needs. Nursing is a profession that offers many different options across the spectrum or a nurses' lifetime. If you are putting pressure on yourself to find the "right" niche, I would say relax; trying too hard gets in the way of finding the right fit.

Tune into yourself and stay true to your interests, passion and goals. Nursing has an area that is just right for you right now.

Mentor to Healthcare Leaders; from US Specialty: 36 year(s) of experience in Leadership Development

12 Articles; 13,878 Profile Views; 73 Posts

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tnbutterfly - Mary is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

14 Followers; 139 Articles; 5,598 Posts; 202,073 Profile Views

Thank you for this excellent article. This should be very helpful for those trying to decide what they want to do and where they want to go in their nursing career.

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babyNP. has 12 years experience as a APRN and specializes in NICU.

4 Followers; 1,863 Posts; 28,382 Profile Views

Yes, this is good advice. I didn't know that my specialty existed (NICU) until my senior year of nursing school (I don't know why...it just never occurred to me, which is crazy). But once I learned about NICU, I knew I wanted to get into it and did everything in my power to do it. Soon thereafter, I knew I wanted to work as a NNP and publish too, and I'm happy to say that 6 years after completing nursing school, I'm doing both very soon.

My advice to nursing students is to really think about the years ahead to figure out what you want to do in life. I wrote down a list of 20 life goals when I graduated from college and while some of them are no longer relevant to what I'd like to do, it helped me focus on what I wanted and lead my life direction.

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That Guy has 6 years experience as a BSN, RN, EMT-B and specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab.

3,421 Posts; 33,266 Profile Views

But also don't go in closed minded about any area. I was set I was going to be ICU, so I let peds/OB kind of just cruise through. When I graduated I landed a Medical job that was going to turn into ICU. Took too long and went to ER instead. Man I wish I had paid more attention to that peds stuff!

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8 Posts; 718 Profile Views

Thank you for writing this article! I am a first year nursing student and have not yet figured out where I'd like to use my skills. This article sums up what I need to consider in the bigger picture when choosing!

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Cynthiahowardrnphd has 36 years experience and specializes in Leadership Development.

12 Articles; 73 Posts; 13,878 Profile Views

ricearoni, I am so glad you were helped by the article. Now may be the time to think long term

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sirI has 30 years experience as a MSN, APRN, NP and specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.

16 Followers; 19 Articles; 13,321 Posts; 141,302 Profile Views

I was terrified of OB in nursing school.

After graduation and passing boards, I landed the job I always wanted as a little kid: OR

It was great.

Then, had to move to another state and no OR positions ... only OB.

Still terrified, however, had to take it.

I had NO idea what I was doing during vag exams. An OB-GYN took me under his wing and told me, "to be a good OB-GYN, you must do left-handed vag exams and smoke cigars. In the beginning you might as well exam with one hand and hold the other one out the window; it's all the same conclusion."

The day I FINALLY knew what I was feeling, I exclaimed, "I found the cervix, doc!!" He just shook his head.

It led to a career as an OB-GYN NP. Never in my wildest dreams would I have considered this.

Agree, never go into any of this close-minded.

*i never smoked cigars* :)

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Cynthiahowardrnphd has 36 years experience and specializes in Leadership Development.

12 Articles; 73 Posts; 13,878 Profile Views

sirl, Ha ha ha - Great story! This is terrific!

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