Can a Nurse Specialize to Work with Individuals with Special Needs?

  1. Hello everyone:

    Is there an area of nursing in which I could specialize to work only with children and/or adults with special needs? By "special needs", I mean those suffering from autism (large interest of mine), mental/emotional disability, physical handicaps, and (children) who are developmentally-delayed. Working with individuals suffering from trauma-related brain injuries is an interest of mine as well, but not an area of special education that I know of too well.

    Would my best shot be to apply as a school nurse in a school catering to special needs? Or an adult day-care center? What about hospitals/clinics that may exist solely for those with special needs? This is a tremendous interest of mine, and I was hoping to use my (soon-to-be) BSN to expand upon the specialty.

    Thank you!!
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    About elb252

    Joined: Mar '09; Posts: 77; Likes: 85
    LTC Staff RN; from US
    Specialty: Geriatrics, LTC

    8 Comments

  3. by   Be_Moore
    Seems like psych may be a good route to go. And look for specialty clinics / homes / facilities.
  4. by   kjsquared
    Hi there,
    I am not in nursing school yet (stat in Aug), but I am also very interested in this type of work. I worked in a "day camp" during summer and fall a few years ago for children and adults with special needs, but I don't remember ever having nurses around. Everyone I worked with had to be certified to give out medications and such, and we took lots of classes on how to handle and deal with special needs.
    I have been wondering for a while about the questions you asked, but have kind of been unable to come up with any answers other than working in psych....I would really like more info on this area if anyone else has any as well.
  5. by   yesdog
    Maybe you would be interested in working as a nurse in a state hospital for the severely disabled. In California I know of Fairview and Porterville. Also, some school districts have a nurse that deals only with the special education students. There are also rehabilitation centers for those with head trauma etc.
  6. by   Rose3721
    You could look at working in a state school as well. I have an older sister that is special needs and lives in a state school in Texas. It consists of full time, 24/7 care for individuals, children and adult that cannot live on their own because of significant mental retardation, autism, etc. The RNs work there fulltime for medication administration, case management, and assessments. I know that several state schools in Texas are hiring at this time. Hope this helps!
  7. by   carluvscats
    I do pediatric home health, and love it.

    You may want to check out Shriners Hospitals. They do awesome work for kids with a variety of disabilities.

    Best of luck to you!
  8. by   kjsquared
    Thanks for all the suggestions and comments! I appreciate it. I hope this helps the OP also!
  9. by   elb252
    Yes, the above posts have been a help!! I've always had a special place in my heart for both children and adults suffering from various neurological, mental, and physical disabilities. Also know various children suffering from autism...always a huge interest of mine, and something that I've found rewarding to learn about.

    But I won't say that I regret my time spent in nursing school...just thinking that the path that I'll be taking will be one very different from my classmates.

    However, I am considering obtaining a master's degree in either special education or counseling as well...Will this be beneficial on top of my nursing degree, and will I really be able to use it anywhere? Also, if I do decide to go in that direction, will a BSN qualify me for a master's in sped or counseling, or would I have to go back and get another bachelor's in one of the two?

    Thank you for all of your posts thus far!
  10. by   yesdog
    You would need obtain a teaching credential and then get a masters degree in sp ed. Counseling is not what you think it is. A degree in counseling is more for high schools. They do the scheduling for students. I think you mean a psych degree. You would need a BA and MA in psych in order to counsel....which is really doing assessments and meetings....not much counseling. I know all of this because I was a speech pathologist for many years.

    Don't ever be afraid of being different. You can always combine your nursing degree with another career. No one will ever be able to take that away from you. It will always be an asset. You are young. When I was your age I had no idea what I really wanted to be, so I became a speech pathologist. I did it for a long time, but I realized that I really wanted another challenge in my life. So, now I just finished an MSN and will be starting in the SICU! It is very exciting. Life always has opportunities and challenges if you have the courage to try. Pursue whatever you want! Create your own destiny!

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