If you have a firm foundation with your nursing education and a good job in the hospital doing patient care, it's time to look to your future and the opportunities that nursing offers you. Here are some ways to evaluate your own interests and goals and match them with currently available nursing roles.
Determine the Level of Patient Care You Want to Have
Now that you have some experience doing hands-on care of patients, to what level do you want to continue that? There are many nursing roles that have little to no direct patient contact, if that's what you are looking for. For example:
- Administration - You could work in a nursing school as part of the administrative staff and have no patient contact at all.
- Surgical Nursing - A nursing role assisting in a cardiothoracic surgery team lets you work with patients, but you're likely to only see them after they have been anesthetized.
- Patient Education - Your role could be working in a diabetes clinic where you're responsible for teaching patients how to manage their disease, but you don't do direct patient care.
- Research - In a research facility, you'll be doing work that helps patients, but have no direct patient care responsibilities.
Determine the Patient Population on Which You Want to Focus
You likely had exposure to all age groups and types of patients in your nursing education. Your current role may let you work with different groups of people in depth. If you're unsure which age group and type of patient you prefer, you can continue to work in a general nursing capacity, but in different areas of the hospital. Some nurses enjoy the variety of rotating through the various medical/surgical units in a hospital. But if you decided it's time to focus, you have a number of options available to you, such as:
- Neonatal Careers - These let you work with newborns, preparing them to go home with their parents or supporting them as they battle complex health issues after birth.
- Pediatrics - You'll work with a range of children from the toddler to the teen who have various levels of understanding of their health issues.
- Geriatrics - At the other end of the age spectrum, you can work with adults with age-related health issues.
You may find it fulfilling to work with people in a particular cultural focus. For example, you could be a nurse in a clinic supporting a primarily Asian population. You can even narrow down your focus to working in a pediatrics clinic in an Asian community.
Determine the Field of Medicine in Which You Want to Specialize
On the general medical floor of a large hospital, you'll be exposed to a variety of conditions. But you may decide that you enjoy a particular field over the others such as:
- Orthopedics - You can work with patients with fractures, those needing joint replacements and children who need corrective surgery for scoliosis.
- Neurology - Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome and those recovering from a stroke are supported by this medical specialty.
- Oncology - You'll work with patients with various forms and stages of cancer.
- Hospice - You can support patients facing end-of-life situations to have a comfortable life in their final days.
Your nursing career can be as varied as you wish. You can focus on a large or narrow patient population. Perhaps the best part is that you can experience a number of different areas over the course of your nursing career.
For more information and options, talk with people at different health care clinics in the area, such as those at Kidz Medical Services.