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Is it ok to specialize right out of school

by melbauman melbauman (New) New

I am a nursing student in my last semester of nursing. I will be graduating in December of 09 and need to get started on applications for jobs. I have wanted to be an OB nurse from the moment that I decided to go into nursing, but as I talk with other nurses I am being told that I need to start out on a med/surg floor so I can really get my skills down. I am really torn about this because I don't really enjoy these areas as much. I understand the thought process behind starting in med/surg for skill development but I'm just not interested in that kind of nursing. I want to know if a year on a med/surg floor will really be as beneficial as everyone says. Please tell me what you think!

iteachob, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB, NICU, Nursing Education (academic).

If you want to work OB, then work OB! That way, you'll get the skills you need for OB.......and while some of the skills are the same, many are different. It (to me) makes no sense to work in med-surg to acquire their skill set, when where you really want to work is OB. I say, don't listen to them!

I have never worked med/surg (since 1984!), only OB and NICU. I am a full-time assistant professor in an ADN program. This is the same advice I give to my own students who want to work in OB.


Specializes in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing.

I taught Nursing for 25 years and I know the hard sell you are getting from faculty. My advice then and now is to follow your heart and go for your first love. I have friends who went directly into OB or Psych after graduation and they are still loving their chosen specialty. Be sure you are given a solid orientation as well as a mentor and keep up those CEUs in your area. I also have friends who changed their minds after years of a specialty such as OB and Psych, took a refresher, and moved into their new love. Finally, I know of individuals who followed the advice of med-surg for a year and they no longer are nurses.

Virgo_RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry, ED.

I think of it this way. The patients on a Med/Surg floor deserve to be cared for by nurses who want to be there just as much as the patients on any specialty unit. Yes, you will gain incredibly valuable skills in Med/Surg, but you will have to relearn a new skill set when you transfer to OB.

I specialized in cardiac right out of NS, and while it was tough being a new grad on a specialty floor, it would have been tough being a new grad anywhere.

I am, however, very glad now that I've transferred to the ED that I am not a new grad in the ED. The learning curve is steep enough as it is, and I cannot imagine being fresh out of school going into the ED. Though, I know there are many who have done it and have done just fine.

So, considering everything, I agree with the above post. However, I am hearing that jobs are scarce right now, so you may have to take a job that is not your dream job until things start looking up again.

Lacie, BSN, RN

Specializes in jack of all trades.

I went directly in CTU/CCU when I had my worker's permit while waiting on my initial licensure after boards and was the best decision I ever made. If you really want OB and know that's where your heart is then go for it. OB/GYN is a whole different world then general Med/Surg. I dont think you'll regret the decision.


Specializes in Labor & Delivery. Has 10 years experience.

I absolutely agree with everyone's posts. I went straight into L&D after nursing school and can't imagine doing anything else. I will say though that I find it somewhat interesting that people talk about "specializing" or doing med/surg. Every area is a "specialty" more or less. Med/surg is not some generic field of nursing but a specialty so to speak in its own right. I think most new nurses are steered toward med/surg is because you'll have exposure to alot of skills and disease processes. I sure as heck couldn't walk onto a med/surg floor and be proficient. I think you have to follow your interest or you sure will be miserable going to work each day!

Listen to your heart. When I decided I wanted to be a nurse it was just for cancer patients. All through nursing school I was told not to specialize, but to get Med/Surg experience instead. I worked part time on the oncology unit my last year of nursing school (just a couple 4 hour shifts a week) and knew it was what I wanted to do. I went directly into it upon graduation and did it for 17 wonderful years. The only reason I changed (and this is only temporary) is for better hours for my kids until they go to college, then it's back to oncology for me.

Having a heart for the area you work in makes things better for both you and your patients. Patients need nurses who have a desire to do what they do. Good luck!

I am glad to here all of this great advice! I am a student as well and will graduate in may. All here is med/surg med/surg med/surg. I would eventually like to got to the ED but am afraid of getting in over my head right out of school. I have made a good rep for my self in the hospital I work in as an NA. I have the chane to go into oncology or PCU right out of school. I think it will be one of those to start.


Specializes in Med/Surg, ICU, educator.

As a med-surg nurse, I have to agree. What I do bears little or no resemblance to what goes on in OB. Go for it!

NickiLaughs, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Trauma, Critical Care. Has 12 years experience.

I'm so pleased to see that people are encouraging others to follow their dreams. My dream is constantly changing. I think I'd love NICU, but those jobs are so hard to come by or ER, but that's hard to do as a New Grad. In any case I got a job in ICU, I figured either way ICU would be somewhat pertinent. It's not my dream job, but if you get the chance to follow your heart please go for it!


Specializes in Emergency Department.

I was an ER tech while going to school and wanted to get into the ER as a new nurse however there weren't any openings. I went into a surgical ICU as a new grad and learned a ton. Then I went to ER about 9 mos later. I'm so happy i did it that way. the ICU experience helped so much as far a assessing and caring for critical patients. I had a older nurses tell me I needed to go to Med/surg for a year before I chose my specialty but I listened to my heart. Nothing against med/surg but I knew I didn't want to do that. If you know what you like, go for it!

Tait, MSN, RN

Specializes in Acute Care Cardiac, Education, Prof Practice. Has 14 years experience.

I just want to say thank you to the people in this thread, VirgoRN in particular. As a passionate Med/Surg nurse it is nice to hear the support of other nurses, and not the constant "ewww med/surg" we often hear on popular boards such as this.

I have greatly loved my med/surg experience and have learned far more than I ever thought possible. I work hard and would recommend Med/Surg to any new grad as a great place to start off.

Someone earlier mentioned that people who started in Med/Surg often left nursing, however I feel no matter where they would have started there is a good chance the same thing might have happened.

And to the person was was looking to go to the ER at some point, but was worried about it after nursing school, Med/Surg might be the perfect place since the exposure is so varied and so is the ED.


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