How to choose a nursing specialization

How to choose a nursing specialization

Nursing is an exciting, rewarding and fulfilling career. It is consistently listed as one of the best jobs in the nation. If you have been thinking about embarking on this career path, you will have an opportunity to help people in need.

Before starting your professional career, you must consider which area to specialize in. This might be an easy decision because they are already interested in a specific line of work. For others, choosing a specialization can be challenging. As your career progresses, you will need specialized knowledge and skills to advance. With so many areas of specialization and options available, there is something suitable for everyone.

Types of specializations to choose from

A nursing specialization is an area of client care in which a nurse has advanced knowledge through education and experience. There are many specialization areas to choose from, such as APN, RN, MSN, DNP, and more. Here is a look at some of the top specializations in nursing.

Registered Nurse (RN)

RNs, or registered nurses, work directly with patients. They are trained and educated to provide care to patients and communicate relevant information about procedures and treatments to patients and their families. RNs are typically required to assess and monitor clients continuously while educating them. They work with multidisciplinary teams in a variety of settings.

ADN Nurse

Nurses with an associate degree in nursing are known as ADN nurses. These nurses can work in many different work settings, including outpatient clinics and surgical units. They are usually required to record patients’ medical history, provide them with education about procedures and treatments, and prepare them for procedures. They must be empathetic and compassionate to excel in this role.

BSN Nurse

Nurses with bachelor’s degrees have access to a lot of job opportunities compared to those with an ADN. They can work in nursing administration, education, or directly with patients. Their education and experience train them to be confident and provide quality healthcare to patients. Their daily duties may involve communicating with patients and their families, inserting IVs, running medical tests, and assisting with treatments and procedures.

PRN Nurse 

PRN nurses are “pro re nata” nurses who work on an on-call basis. These nurses can fill in for other staff members in departments that need additional help. PRN nurses may be able to work in any type of facility or hospital. They are required to be adaptable so they can quickly work in any type of new environment.

They must also have basic skills and knowledge in several specialties to efficiently work in any department where needed.

If you are someone who likes excitement and working on different duties each day, this might be an excellent option for you.

Charge Nurse 

If you are interested in working as a leader or manager in healthcare, becoming a charge nurse is the ideal option. These nurses are responsible for managing other nurses in a team. They need to assign duties, serve as a mentor, provide care to patients, and order supplies, among other responsibilities.

Charge nurses can find opportunities in different departments and settings, such as assisted living and ICU. To succeed in this role, you will need strong organizational, communication, and leadership skills.

MSN Nurse 

A nurse with a master’s in science degree will have advanced knowledge and skills in healthcare and nursing. This allows them to diagnose, assess, and manage patients. This is an advanced degree that enables nurses to act as autonomous care providers so they can diagnose medical problems, treat patients, prescribe medication, and help patients with all their health requirements.

DNP Nurse 

DNP nurses must earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice. This degree emphasizes leadership, so nurses have specialized knowledge in healthcare quality improvement, policy, collaboration, data management, finance, and population health.

These nurses have the highest level of expertise and knowledge to ensure quality care for their patients. Nurses are taught advanced theories and nursing concepts so they can work in specialized practice, healthcare administration, research, education, and quality improvement fields.

When deciding between an MSN vs DNP program, it is best to think about where you envision yourself working in the future. Institutions like Walsh University provide flexible online programs that allow you to pursue either degree while working full-time.

How to decide which nursing specialization to pursue 

With so many different specializations to choose from, it will take some time to narrow down the list. Learn about each specialization, the employment opportunities they offer, and the settings in which they allow you to work. Although research takes time and effort, this will enable you to choose an online degree that aligns with your goals.

Here are a few tips to help you choose a specialization that will be more suitable for you.


Every nurse is different and will have different interests, personalities, hobbies, and goals. Nurses may have different characteristics that may make them more suitable for certain niches. Some specialization areas will require greater involvement and interaction with patients, while others may not require direct patient care.

Choose an area that allows you to use the best aspects of your personality to advance your professional goals. Nurses, in general, are required to be compassionate and caring. Specific practice areas like hospice or oncology may require more empathy than other roles.

Style of work 

Think about the style of work you enjoy the most. Many nurses prefer working solo, while others enjoy being part of a team. Some nurses may choose to do something other than work directly with patients.

Think about your preferences when choosing a specialization. You may need to collaborate with other professionals on some level as a nurse. If you are introverted, working in the ICU or doing research may be more suitable. Extroverted personalities, meanwhile, may prefer working in management or education roles. If you enjoy working directly with patients, choose your specialization accordingly.

Age group preferences 

Many nurses prefer to work with patients of a certain age group, while others may be comfortable working with people from all backgrounds and of all ages. If you prefer working with seniors, children, or other specific age groups, you should consider that when you decide on a specialization. For each age group, nurses will need to use different communication styles and approaches. You may want to work in family practice or pediatrics depending on your preferences.

Job Outlook

All nursing roles offer excellent earning and career advancement potential. The worldwide nursing shortage means nursing professionals will always be in demand. You may have an even more significant earning potential depending on your specialization.

Your pay range depends on many factors, such as your work setting, location, and demand. Your degree and credentials will also affect your pay range. Specializations that lead to higher-level jobs and leadership positions come with a higher salary. You should also consider advancement opportunities when choosing a role so you can continue to progress in your career.

Educational requirements


Specific nursing roles will require specialized education and training, but many nursing roles are available to those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. For higher-paying opportunities, you will need extensive training and specific credentials. An advanced degree may be required if you are pursuing leadership or management roles in healthcare. You will also need specialized education if you are interested in working in informatics, education, or case management.

Work setting 

Nurses typically work in clinics and hospitals, but many other options are available for nurses with the right skills. Nurses may also be able to work in corporate environments and schools. Many nurses provide care to patients in their homes, while others work in physicians’ offices. Each environment comes with its own set of challenges and benefits. Consider the kind of environment you would like to work in when choosing a specialization.

Working hours 

Your working hours will depend on the type of environment in which you choose to work. Nurses typically work shifts of 10 to 12 hours. Some nurses work regular hours, while others work on-call. Depending on the specialization, you can work normal business hours.

If you work in a regular hospital setting, you may have to work shifts and may even have to miss holidays occasionally. If you prefer working regular hours and having a stable schedule, you should pursue a management or research position.

The bottom line 

If you are serious about pursuing nursing as a career, take the time to consider your preferences, your goals for the future, and how you would like to grow your career. With a little research, you will find a specialization that fits in with your objectives and provides you with a fulfilling career.