Specialty interest can make school difficult


The reason I decided I wanted to become a nurse was because in high school they made us do projects on our future career. I had NO idea what I wanted to do so I started thinking about my interests. I had always been fascinated with pregnant women and newborns. I would watch all kinds of medical shows and reality shows about women giving birth and raising their babies. So I began researching who takes care of the babies when they are born. And I stumbled upon the NICU. I fell in love with the idea of getting to be the one to take care of the sick fragile newborns. I even job shadowed in a NICU at our local hospital my senior year. I saw many sick babies and it was very sad, but I knew that it is what I wanted to do.

Being in nursing school, the majority of time you are learning how to take care of the adult patient, and only one semester is dedicated to OB/Peds. Sometimes we will be learning about something that has to do with care of the adult patient and it just makes me question whether I am in the right field. I have very little interest in working with adults. I could do it, like I do at clinicals, but if it was something I had to do for the rest of my life I would not want to be a nurse. My heart is with children, but mostly babies in general. I wouldn't mind working with pregnant women in L&D either. It sucks because I know those are probably two of the most popular specialties and it will be hard to find a job especially straight out of school.

Is it normal to feel like this as a nursing student?? Don't get me wrong I love learning everything that we are learning, but I just feel like already knowing what specialty I want to work in can make it hard to learn about the other stuff. I am taking OB/Peds next semester and I can not wait!!

Samm06, BSN, RN

126 Posts

I feel the same way. I too want to work in the NICU and maybe become a Neonatal nurse practitioner (requires a master's). I understand what you mean by it being hard to show interest in other subjects when you feel so strong about a certain one. We just gotta push through school and do our best now to learn about other topics and then once we graduate concentrate in a certain area and gain some experience.


4,129 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 8 years experience.

I originally went into nursing school intending on going into adult ICU. Once I got into OB/ Peds (1 rotation in small NICU) I realized that NICU was where I wanted to be. I was able to choose a NICU preceptorship at a Level IV NICU at the children's hospital during my last semester of my BSN. Once I graduated, I applied to every NICU job posting that I qualified for. I applied to 40-50 openings in 12 states. I was offered a NICU position at a Level IV NICU at a Children's hospital 3 hrs away. It is possible to get a NICU position as a new grad, but you must be willing to move out of state and if possible, get your BSN and an externship in a NICU.

Specializes in NICU, PICU, educator.

I know it's hard, but all these classes do round you out and you never know what may peak your interest.

For every open spot we have in NICU we have 50 candidates.

Good of luck in school!

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

YOU are making it hard on yourself by not exploring all of nursing. It would be as if you had your heart set since childhood on marrying a red-headed man. Many, many fine men might pass your way unappreciated because you have a notion that only one thing will do- red hair. You do yourself a great disservice.

You have to go where the jobs are. I've seen people wait months or yrs waiting for their dream job. If you can afford to do that, then by all means. Some are lucky or do a great job selling themselves during the interview and can score that dream job. But realistically, as a new grad, you will most likely be competing against more qualified candidates.

Don't let that discourage you though. Perhaps you will be one of the ones to score that dream job.


21 Posts

Specializes in L&D, mother/baby.

I can understand how you feel. However, aside from the fact that you may need to work someplace other than your desired specialty after school, you need to recognize that you need some sort of med/surg to be able to take care of any patients. For example, I was an L&D RN for a time. As an L&D nurse I had patients who had pacemakers and required tele monitoring, I had pregnant patients with pneumonia, I had patients with cancer, patients with HIV, patients with diabetes Type 1. Postpartum, a friend of mine had a patient have a heart attack and code, and I've seen patients during c-section go into DIC. My point being, those are typical med/surg experiences, caring for those situations while the mother is pregnant, laboring, or postpartum adds another layer. And when you deal with peds and NICU, they are different layers that build. You need the basics to be able to go up. What does the NCLEX test you for? It's minimum safe competencies. Try to keep all of that in mind and maybe it'll help motivate you to get through.

Specializes in NICU, telemetry. Has 7 years experience.

It makes it frustrating, but trust me, there is a lot that you will learn that will transfer over. If you want to be a NICU nurse, there's only one way...nursing school. Don't feel discouraged and stop because you don't get much NICU/peds time in clinical. You'll graduate and have enough knowledge to work in NICU, and then learn some more. It'll be fine. You may also find out along the way that you prefer another area over NICU too.


28 Posts

I worked in pediatrics and found that all of my nursing classes somehow connected to my job in pediatrics such as psych, OB, adults, etc. Keep an open mind and don't rule other areas out before you have even started. It is not easy to get a NICU job as a new grad.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Great advice from PPs.

Just wanted to add - Neonatal was the only ICU area I absolutely could not deal with & I have worked in just about all areas, including PICU. I had no problems with the technical aspects but my moral distress meter was off-the-charts, along with a continuous problem with ethical issues. I transferred to Neuro/Trauma ICU as quickly as possible.

Nursing has something for everyone!

nurseprnRN, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 5,114 Posts

You may or may not end up in NICU, and as the above people have mentioned, you'd be wise to keep your options open even though you're pretty sure you know where you want to be.

I loved my public health rotation in school and was particularly taken by the nurse practitioner who was in a free-standing clinic (this was a radical new concept at the time). I was dead certain sure i wanted to do this because the autonomy grabbed me by the shoulders and wouldn't let me go. So my plan was to graduate, work a year or so in peds, and then go do the newfangled PNP program at the next university over. However, my then husband got a job transfer out of state and before I knew it, I was falling in love with critical care, which I did for nearly 2 decades, eventually getting a MN in and working as a clinical specialist and educator. But things change....and now I own my own independent nursing consulting business and wouldn't do anything else for love or money.

I have told this story before, but here it is again. Every year our program would admit about 25% more students than we knew we would be keeping, because no matter how well-qualified the applicants, in about three weeks about that many would be in our offices crying because they 1) didn't know they'd have to see naked old people, 2) didn't know school would be so hard, 3) thought it would be more like on TV, 4) thought they could just do mother-baby and didn't have to do med-surg and psych and all that other stuff too in school, 5) didn't know how much responsibility a nurse has, 6) were shocked that they had to see/hear/smell/touch things like .... etc., etc. "I always wanted to be a nurse like my mother/my auntie/my neighbor/my pediatrician's nurse/Cherry Ames," they wail as they come to withdraw.

I also always told my students to ask every nurse why s/he did what s/he did, and also why s/he didn't do what s/he didn't do. Lots of people can tell you why they like something, but it's when they tell you why they don't like something that you can make a decision. Also realize that you will be exposed to many different kinds of nursing in your education, and most people end up doing something entirely different than they envisioned when they applied.


"Mother-baby nursing! I love it! What better opportunity to get a new family off to a good start-- a good birthing experience, establish breastfeeding, and all that. And when a new family has a good birth experience, they'll come back to our hospital for care later on in life."

"Mother-baby nursing, yeeeeecccchhhh! Tits and fundi and peripads and screaming brats and if I never see another whiny entitled ***** with a six-page birth plan and a mother-in-law it'll be too damn soon."

The point of these rambling anecdotes is to encourage you to recognize that best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley. It's terrific to have a goal in mind and to see your path before you. But smart people keep their peripheral vision tuned, too, because you never know what might turn up along the way.

Specializes in HH, Peds, Rehab, Clinical. Has 4 years experience.

I compare to to many other things:

I only like omelets, so why should I bother learning how to fry, scramble or poach eggs?

I only like to listen to music by X artist. Why are radio stations playing these other singers?

And as stated above: I only want to marry a red-headed man, why would I waste my time on a blond, brunette, or gray-haired man?!

You need to have an open mind and a willingness to learn about many facets of nursing. I surely hope you haven't expressed your disatisfaction to your instructors about having to learn things you never plan on using!