Which nursing specialty is most competitive and which one is the least competitive

Nurses General Nursing


Specializes in public health.

i.e. which one is easiest to get in as a new grad, which one is the hardest to get in and why? Thanks!

Specializes in ICU, Home Health, Camp, Travel, L&D.

Generally, Med-Surg is the easiest. ICUs, ER, L&D toughest.

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).


tablefor9 speaks the truth from tablefor9's perspective, and probably, experience.

However, from my perspective and experience, Psych is relatively easy to get into. I've witnessed some RN's merely need to undergo spontaneous respirations in order to work in Psych. If you're a warm body with an RN behaind your name, you can work Psych.

Medical, communication, or reporting skills are always handy, but not necessary.

I'm looking to the day when The Forces That Be will accept RN's without the skill of being able to undergo spontaneous respirations and still be able to work Psych.

For whatever it's worth.


Specializes in ICU, Home Health, Camp, Travel, L&D.

Tablefor9 nods to Dave, and recalls checking respirations on a couple of postpartum nurses prior to giving them report. :eek::zzzzz

Specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice.

I don't how easy psych is to get into everywhere of course but in the local hospitals and surrounding areas it's not easy because there isn't much turnover.

I think OR, PACU, L&D, and NICU would probably be the hardest for a new grad to get into and most PREFER some experience. And of course at the present it's hard to get into anything!

Med/surg seems to have the highest turnover and probably less competitive...just my experiences.

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

Before the economy tanked, LTC (long-term care and nursing homes) seemed to be the easiest specialty for job hunting IMHO. All the nurse needed was a license and a pulse in order to get hired on the spot. LTC is sometimes the job of last resort for nurses who cannot get an interview with an acute care hospital. LTC has a certain reputation because society does not place the same value on the life of elderly people as it does on younger patients.

Specialties such as the E.R., L&D, postpartum, OR, and any kind of intensive care unit (NICU, PICU, SICU, MICU, CVICU) are popular, and finding jobs in these specialties is a competitive process. Med/surg has traditionally been less competitive, but the poor economic climate in this country is driving more nurses to compete for a job in med/surg.

Specializes in Psych, EMS.

Just my opinion, based on no verifiable facts or statistics..

Most competitive: NICU

Least competitive: Psych

Specializes in pediatrics.

I've heard that the NICU is also the place of highest burnout. After being in the NICU as a parent, I would never ever consider going there professionally. I've been involved in numerous blogs regarding neonatal ethics and have seen some nursing articles that discuss the high rate of burnout among NICU nurses.

Least likely for new grad: Nurse manager, Hospital Nurse CNO, flight nursing, PACU, ED(at my hospital at least).

Hiring new grads at my hospital: med/surg and the floors for renal, cardiac, rehab, pulmonary.

The burn center often hires new grads too.

Sometimes a new grad is hired for ICU, but usually the nurse worked there before as an extern or CNA.

Hardest to get into OR. In nursing school there is usually very little exposure to what a circulating nurse does. The equipment and machines they use. A circulator is not a scrub tech but you need to know what a scrub tech knows (the instruments) if you are going to be a good circulator.

Easiest is long term care, then med/surg. They are both the basic bedside nursing skills focused on in nursing school. They are both very demanding. Depending on what institution or state you work in you can have 8 - 12 - 20 + patients to care for on one shift. That does lead to burn out.

Any area of nursing, (any job) has people who burn out. Even Psych.

I've never been a psych nurse. But even so I resent the comments. Psych nursing can be exhausting and demanding. Walk a mile in someones shoes before you comment.

Specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health.

Psych is fairly easy to get into depending on where you apply. In my experience, it is much harder to get a job on a psych unit within a larger medical facility. However, it is usually pretty easy to get hired on at a freestanding psych hospital.

Med surge is pretty easy to get into, so is LTC.

If you want to get into other specialties straight out of school, best to try for a job in one of those specialties, as an aide. I've known plenty of folks who started out working as aides in OB/LnD, ICU, etc, and went straight into a nursing position in those units right after school.

I don't know why, I'll never know why.... but so many units that other people want to be on, I just want to stay away from.

Specializes in Long term care, Rehab/Addiction/Recovery.

Every day at this site I see another thread from a "virtual nurse" getting ready to dip her toe into the terrifying pool that is this economy and job situation. I'm very sorry to tell you, its just mostly all awful right now. Yes, med-surg is always gonna have the most openings. Why?? Its hard, damn work. Its where you really hone your nursing skills. It should be mandatory for at least 1 year for all new Rn's. Kinda like your "residency". From there you can go on and have the confidence and skill base to learn any specialty. You don't graduate with any basic RN degree with the skills to start working. Getting back to whats is going on now.. Its battlefield conditions girls. I give up where and how the jobs are! As far as psych goes, I can tell you this..It is most definitely not eze to get a job. All psych jobs I have applied to (many) want substantial psych experience. Now is not the time to try a new specialty. I am seriously considering tending bar!:crying2:

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