What specialties/areas best for me?

Nurses General Nursing


I'm a recent rn graduate with 7 months of experience (mostly in subacute rehab and a little in long-term care).

here's my question -- what areas/specialties of nursing might work with my weaknesses and strengths?

i apologize for the length of this post. This is such a vital decision, for reasons i'll not go into, that i need to ensure that those advising me have as much info as possible.

I know there are areas/specialties that would be better for those with my challenges and strengths i just don't have the experience to know what those areas/specialties would be. My weaknesses have caused me to struggle in the two rehab positions i've had since graduation. I was let go from the first position primarily because of my primary weakness -- my greatest weakness and a bad one to have in nursing: Being slow. even with experience this is not going to improve beyond a certain point. Because of cognitive issues i have that are proven through extensive testing, i'm pretty sure that i am among the slowest 5-10% of nurses. In other words, only one in ten or twenty nurses is as slow as i am. I'm thorough, accurate, very hard working, etc., i'm just quite a bit slower than the average. Proof of how hard working i am comes from the fact that i was one of three finalists in a class of over 100 for the graduate's academic excellence award, in spite of the fact that my grade point average was probably only at about the 70th percentile. I believe i was a finalist primarily because of the effort i gave.

One of the challenges in finding a specialty/area that is good for me is that many non-med/surg departments want you to have a good period of med/surg experience before applying to them. I definitely cannot handle the speed of a med/surg department, even for a short period of time.

Below i've taken an article titled 8 traits employers are really looking for and rated myself against them. Maybe that will help explain my strengths and weaknesses, in the interest of determining what areas/specialties might be good for me. In the ratings below 5/10 is average.

Personal rating: 3/10 -- comfortable confidence -- comfortable with themselves -- confident, but never cocky. They are friendly, engaging and, as a result, a pleasure to be around. Comment: I gave myself 3/10 because i am not very confident, mostly because of how slow i am. I don't believe i show this lack of confidence to my patient's more than your average new nurse would. I did not give myself an even lower score, because i am friendly and engaging and would say, forgive my immodesty, my patient's would say that i am pleasant to be around. In fact, the month before last i was nominated twice for employee of the month by patients. One indicated that i was the best nurse she had ever seen. Anyone who knows my true capabilities, knows that is laughable. The other resident that nominated me said i was always there for him.

8/10 -- willingness to listen and learn -- employers obviously want to hire professionals who have the skills necessary to do the job. However, that doesn't mean there will never be anything they need to learn. Know-it-alls are rarely appreciated. Humility (and humanity) often is. Comment: I am extremely willing to learn. I don't learn that quickly and have to study new quite a bit.

3/10 -- adaptability -- in some fields, a job is changing and evolving day by day. Employers want to hire adaptable professionals who can change with it. This may mean someone who can follow directions one day and figure out his or her own direction the next. Or perhaps someone who can spend some days behind their desk and other days in the field, equally productive in both environments. - personal comments: I am extremely willing to be adaptable, but not very capable of doing so. Because i am so slow, i need a relatively consistent routine to keep from falling far behind in my work. If i have a relatively consistent routine my speed eventually increases to a point where my speed is nearly that of an average nurse.

3/10 -- flexibility -- employers want to hire professions who are flexible. Those who are stuck in their ways tend to be more difficult to work with than those who can go with the flow. Flexibility goes hand in hand with adaptability. - i am very willing to be flexible, but have difficulty getting up to speed with new things.

6/10 -- self-reliance -- babies need not apply. Employers do not want to hire people who require handholding or constant praise in order to feel appreciated. They are looking for employees who can motivate themselves, figure out what needs to be done and then do it. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back from time to time, but it shouldn't be required to do your job well. - comments: Am very self motivated, but am average or slightly worse at figuring out what needs to be done on my own. I expect that will improve as i get more experience.

7/10 -- teamwork -- you've heard it before, but there is no "i" in "team." even those who are hired to fill individual positions may eventually find themselves working as part of a group. Employers are looking for those who can collaborate well with others, not behave like divas. Comments: I am very team oriented, although i sometimes i feel this is taken advantage of. I'm always willing to do whatever i can to help, but much of the time my peers are not so willing - i know i need to address this.

9/10 --dependability -- employers want to hire professionals who will be there to do the job every day. They do not want to waste their time with someone who is going to use all of his or her sick days, demand vacation time during the busy season, or abuse a flexible schedule. Comment: In seven months have never missed a day, been late or left early and i expect to continue that trend.

5/10 -- honesty -- once a liar, always a liar, or at least in the eyes of potential employers. It almost goes without saying, but if an employer discovers an "inaccuracy" or "exaggeration" on your resume (perhaps while conducting a reference check), you will quickly find yourself resuming your job search. Comment: I believe i'm no more or less honest than the average nurse, but i very much want to improve in this area.

I will greatly appreciate your commenting on this.

There is no way possible that anyone, short of Jesus or Batman, can tell you what specialty will be best for you. Even if you are 10,000% sure that a particular specialty is for you, you will not know until you actually work in it for awhile.

I cannot tell you how many nurses, nearly all the nurses I know, started out in a specialty that they loved only to find out either that they did not love it as much as they though or just grew tired of it.

Get a job, assess how you like it, move on to another, repeat as needed.

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia.

Homecare (providing hourly care to one patient) is an ideal environment for a slower nurse. There are no call lights, no ringing phones and multiple demands. You have TIME to 'fluff and buff' do all the niceties that the rest of us can only DREAM of having time for.

You also become an EXPERT in your patient, you do not have to learn a whole new 'story' on your patient every time you come to work. Less distraction.

Anyway, my opinion. Good luck.

but a new grad with minimal experience in assessment, independent thought, and independent action in situations should not think that home care is the right place to be because it's "easier." it's not.

i agree with asystole-- you don't choose your specialty, it chooses you when you're not looking. i'm a good example-- i was darn good and sure i would get a job at the local children's hospital and then do an excellent pediatric nurse practitioner program in my city. at the time this was a new career path for anyone, i had soent time in my public health rotation working with one and was taken by the autonomy, and that was all about me. then my husband got a job transfer, we left town the week of graduation, and i got interviews for a postop unit and a respiratory unit. i personally hate sputum so i took the pacu job...which led to critical care, which led to grad school in that. i never did work in peds or get that np education. i left critical care after 20 years or so, and did case management and now legal nursing and life care planning. and i have been nothing but pleased with my career, all of it, although looking back i'm sure i never would have imagined most of it. my present specialty didn't exist seven months --or seven years-- after i graduated!

:twocents: don't worry so much at this point how you are going to spend the rest of your working life. you won't really know the answer to that until you retire, years from now. do the best you can where you are, when something comes up that interests you, try it. take a few courses as you go along, just for the pleasure of learning; you never know where they'll lead you. join a professional organization chapter; if they have special interest sections, check out a few, talj to some people, network, feel yourself grow as a nurse. you have a lot of time.

Specializes in Emergency.

You might also see that being at the mark you are at, you aren't done cooking! You may not be slow for forever! Really. I think you may need to give things more time to shake out and give yourself more time to develop as a Nurse. It really takes a lot longer than 7 months, or 1-2 years to really move from that "Novice to expert" that everyone is spouting off about. I've been a nurse for 12 years. My first 5 were really very difficult, the last 5 were much easier. I had finally seen it/done it so many times, and also settled into a hospital that worked for me. Then a new opportunity came along. That article really does not explain much in relation to being a nurse. It seems to me you are moving along well in your career....give yourself a bit more time.

+ Add a Comment