Trouble Deciding on Specialization/Masters

  1. Calling all nurses,

    I'm entering Nursing school, pursuing a BSN. I know I want to purse a Masters of some sort, but I am having trouble deciding what specialty. Does anyone have any good pointers on how to make up my decision, or cross some options out (CNS, NP, CRNA, CNL, etc.)? I know shadowing is best, but this is all I have at the moment. I will probably attend University of Cincinnati, Wright State University, or Ohio State University.

    I made a list of little tidbits about me that I think would help decide:

    • I like and work well with people
    • I'm not interested in Midwifery or Pediatrics
    • I find Adult, General Family, and Population care interesting
    • I like the idea of managing and/or consulting others
    • I like the idea of health maintenance/promotion
    • I want to graduate at soon as possible (or be able to work while in school, but still be full-time)

    Does anyone have any tips on what careers I definitely want to avoid or further investigate?



    PS. Can you get a masters in Nurse Management? I haven't really seen any in my area. Is it something you just work your way up to?
  2. Visit BryanG profile page

    About BryanG

    Joined: Jun '10; Posts: 7; Likes: 1


  3. by   HouTx

    It's great that you have long-term aspirations for your career but you need to focus on first-things-first. Get through your BSN, get your license & explore a few clinical areas before making decisions about specialization. You may absolutely fall in love with a particular area - I know I did!

    You are correct in assuming that an MSN is required for moving into nursing management. You will need clinical experience as well as credentials in order to be promoted. Accrediation agencies expect nurse leaders to have expertise in the areas they are responsible for - clinical certification is preferred. However, this is the most thankless, stressful and crazy-making area of nursing - it's not unusual to make LESS money as a manager, because you forfeit the shift diff, OT and other perks available to experienced staff nurses while working more hours. Even union environments offer no protection for managers because they are excluded from membership.

    You can get an MSN either in a functional area (nursing admin, nursing education, informatics) or practice area (NP, Clin Spec, Clinical Leadership, CNM, CRNA). Many programs - like the one I went to- require the functional masters to also have a clinical focus area... I chose education/critical care. Most online MSNs are limited to functional/generalist because they don't include the required clinical practicum. From a hiring perspective, organizations in my neck of the woods generally prefer MSNs associated with a clinical specialty.

    At any rate, you will have a 'long row to hoe' before reaching your goal. Clinical experience is required to qualify for acceptance to both practice and functional MSN programs that require clinical specialization. You're about to embark on the hardest journey of your life -- keep your eyes on the prize.
  4. by   BryanG
    Thanks very much for your response, it was very helpful!

    I suppose I'm being this aggressive about what I want to do with my future because I dragged my feet when I got my first Bachelor's. I've been really proactive about this, I'm taking Nurse Aide training here soon, so I can start getting some real-world experience.

    Thanks again!