Most Difficult Specialties in Nursing

There are over 100 specialties in nursing. But some are more stressful and difficult than others.  If you're looking for a change, you should probably check this article out first. maybe you're a nursing student wondering what specialty to choose. This should help you out too.


1. Oncology:  This is a difficult specialty emotionally and physically.  Caring for patients with curable and incurable cancer is a challenge. You must have a thick skin to work in this specialty and dealing with families who have not come to terms with the disease their loved one has is taxing. The median salary for these positions is around $67,072.

2. Hospice Care: Another tough one for very obvious reasons. As nurses, we want to help patients get well. So, it takes a very special person to be able to take care of patients who are relying on you for palliative care only. It can be difficult to accept the fact that you can't make them better. Often you become attached to patients and when they pass it can be extremely difficult. The median salary for this specialty is $63,458

3. Surgical Nursing: I can tell you first hand that this is a difficult specialty. It has the longest orientation of any specialty, (anywhere from 6 months to 1 year).  Dealing with aggressive surgeons is a skill, and it's a very fast-paced environment.  This specialty is very different from any other specialty. The median salary for a surgical nurse is: $83,960

4. Geriatric Nursing: Dealing with elderly patients can certainly put a strain on you emotionally and physically. Geriatric nursing is one of the most in-demand specialties and it's also one of the most demanding.  The median salary for these positions is: $63,223

5. Emergency Room Nurse: Need I say more?  This is a very stressful environment and is not for the weak of heart. It's very physically and mentally demanding and requires a great deal of skill and patience.  There are currently only 90,000 E.R nurses in the U.S, so this specialty is in extremely high demand. The median salary is $67,411

6. Psychiatric  Nursing:  Psychiatric patients can be very unpredictable and caring for them can takes its toll on you emotionally and physically. It takes a very patient person to successfully deal with these types of patients. The median salary is $68,443

7. Correctional Nursing: An interesting but very stressful environment to work in. Clinical skills must be excellent because you must be able to evaluate and assess patients to see whether or not their ailments are even real. Inmates will make up ailments to get out of the correctional facility for a while, even if it is to go to the hospital.  They also refuse treatment and are unwilling to cooperate sometimes. The median salary for this position is: $64,690

Regardless of what specialty you're in nursing can be stressful. Make sure you take time for yourself and your family. They are the ones that matter the most. If you can't take care of yourself, you won't be much use to your patients either. Happy nursing!