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When do you figure out your specialty?

Specializes in Critical care.

I am going into my second semester of a four semester accelerated BSN. I know it's still early days but I'm just wondering at which point in time does one begin to know their specialty?

I've been doing a lot of thinking and I feel really pulled in a bunch of directions! OB is something I'm interested in, but have no experience. Trauma is amazing, I have some EMT training and have done ride alongs as well and seen some really awesome traumas- but from everything I've read, chances of becoming a trauma nurse are low because you need experience and extra training. I also think mother-baby nursing would be interesting, as would infection control. So how does one begin to narrow it down? How did you pick your specialty and at what point in the process?

insight appreciated.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

It depends on the job market where you plan to practice nursing. If you are job-seeking as a new grad in a glutted employment market, you've gotta take whatever job you get without turning your nose down at any open positions.

However, if you happen to work in a city where new grads still have their pick of jobs, you simply apply for jobs in specialty areas that interest you.


Specializes in NICU.

It didn't click until OB/Peds, Spring semester. Went to my OB clinical and spent 3 hrs in the NICU and my focus became crystal clear, I did my capstone at Riley NICU and now applying to New grad residencies in NICU. You have to wait until you have had clinicals in OB, peds, ICU, ER to see which one feels right. Make a list of your top 3 choices, think them through, rank them and list them on your capstone choices. Then you will really see what it would be like to be a nurse on that unit.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

Take the job you can get, if you are too picky about applying you may miss out.

Also, interests change. What might seem fascinating now may not turn out to be what you want long term. I'd say keep your options open, try out as much as you can. In my career I loved med surg, and camp nursing, and international volunteering, and tele/oncology/dermatology/LTC. Well, not so much LTC, lol. I've been in the ED for 18 years now, but also did my masters and teach on the side.

People sometimes say med surg is horrible, but it truly is nursing at its most basic. You see a little of everything, and develop some truly strong skills when it comes to prioritizing, scheduling and being flexible. I did it for a LOT of years, and different floors have different concentrations of topics, hence the variety of areas I listed above, they were almost all just on med surg floors.


Specializes in Pediatrics/Psych/QI/Suicide Prevention/Regulatory.

When you get a job, work for at least two years full time, and get certified.

I'm a new grad, so this is only my two cents, but it drives me crazy when someone who has limited to no experience in a field claims a specialty.

For example, if I got a job tomorrow on a psych unit, I would say I am an RN on a psych unit. If I stay, and choose to become certified, then I would feel comfortable saying I'm a psych nurse.

I hear nurses who are only in the didactic portions of a critical care residency call themselves ICU nurses

But I think that is a very personal decision.


Specializes in Nasty sammiches and Dilaudid.

I knew what I wanted to do ~6 years before starting nursing school and actually/finally got into that field 18 months and change after licensure... ;)


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

The way the job market is, the more you're open to, the better. No need to narrow it down, really. Dip your toe into different things where you can, and see what ends up sticking.

For me, I figured out what I want to do before I even knew nursing school was one of the necessary steps. Now that I am a RN, my decision hasn't changed, but I am still figuring out in which direction I want to take it. It's a long ways off, so I'm not stressing over it yet.


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