How Do You Choose A Specialty In Nursing?

When most people begin nursing school they have no idea what specialty they want to pursue. It's also common for nursing students to change their minds about their choice of specialty during college. Some folks know what specialty they are interested in before they even begin college.  



I made my decision to become a nurse many years ago. I was interested in becoming a labor & delivery nurse.  I was sure that was my passion,  but I was quite wrong.  I learned how incredibly wrong I was during my clinical rotation in labor and delivery.  I was so excited to be a part of that rotation and couldn't wait to witness my first delivery.  I went into the room where the patient was about to deliver her fist baby.  I was intently watching her give birth when I was lucky enough to have amniotic fluid shoot out and hit me right in the eye. It was right at that moment that I realized labor and delivery was probably not my forte.  
I was quite disappointed and wondered what I was going to do. I had spent a lot of money for college and was halfway through before I realized that I hated labor and delivery.

As I completed each clinical rotation, I grew more and more frustrated, because I just couldn't make up my mind which specialty to choose.  Then came the psychiatric rotation.  I really enjoyed it and thought it would be a great choice for me.  I thought, "at last, I have made up my mind."  I would be a psychiatric nurse.  I loved the interesting conversations I had with patients and  the thought that I could make a difference in people's lives really appealed to me. " There it was" I thought. "I have decided on my specialty. 

At that point I was pretty disinterested in any other clinical rotation, because I had made up my mind and was pretty happy with my decision.  

" If I can just get through the other rotations" I thought, "I'll be home free".  But, I was wrong. I learned I was very wrong when I entered the operating room for my last clinical rotation in my final semester. I was greeted by the charge nurse there and she  sent me to the dressing room to change into scrubs,  She gave me a hat to put on and some shoe covers.  She then escorted me into one of the main OR suites where I was introduced to the circulating nurse.  The minute I laid eyes on the surgical field I was hooked. I forgot everything else I had ever wanted to do. I was mesmerized.  I had finally found my calling. The surgical field was amazing. There were all these "tools," which I later learned  are actually called instruments. They had names for all of them. I loved the atmosphere in the O,R and the interesting surgeries that I saw. When it was time to leave that day, I didn't want to go. I wanted to see more and I couldn't  get enough of it.  I was so in love.  "Wow," I thought, "I will actually be a surgical nurse soon."

When I returned to my clinical group I told them what I had learned and I remember feeling so relieved and excited that I had found my purpose in life. I am, and always will be a surgical nurse.  I've now been in the operating room for 20 years and I still love it today.  

For those of you who are still wondering which specialty to choose, be patient.  It will come to you.  It may not be the specialty you think it is.  It's ironic for me that during the labor and delivery rotation, the amniotic fluid hit me in the face during the delivery and I was disgusted. But I ended up in the O.R being sprayed with blood and much worse during every shift. . It doesn't bother me at all. I've had my hands in some unthinkable places. 

Your intuition and your heart will guide you in the right direction.  Give every clinical rotation a chance. That's what they're there for.  They help you decide what you want to do with your life. Don't get frustrated if you can't figure out what you want to do.  Be patient and give all the specialties a chance. You will find your calling and you will feel it in your heart when you do!

Good luck!  If you have comments about this article, we would love to hear them. 

To read more about surgical nursing click here