Which NP Specialty is right for me?

Dear Aspiring NP,

If you are anything like me you may struggle with deciding on which Nurse Practitioner specialty is right for you. Now a days there are so many options, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Nurse Practitioner. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and probably even more. So with so many options, how do you know which one is right for you?

Pss..Don’t forget to download this nice breakdown of all NP specialties!

In order to help you arrive to a safe conclusion you have to look at yourself and do a little bit of introspection. Consider the following suggestions:

  1. Find your resume and take a hard look at it. This will help you realize what types of jobs, specialities and lengths of employment you have held in the past.
  2. Notice which jobs you’ve held the longest & Ask yourself these questions:
    1. Did I stay there because I enjoyed it or because of another reason (ie. financial hardship or student loan repayment)
      1. If you did enjoy it, try to remember which areas, actions or skills you enjoyed doing the most
    2. Did I look forward to it or dread the experience?
  3. Make a list of all the interviews of nursing jobs that you went to but did not accept. Ask yourself why you didn’t choose these jobs. Was it the environment? Was it the personalities that interviewed you? Was it the specialty or types of patients you were going to work with? Was it the schedule of the job? All of these bits of information can help you shed light on the areas, schedules and specialties you don’t enjoy.
  4. Is there anything that you have always said you wanted to do and haven’t gotten around doing? It could be volunteering or going on a specific mission trip or opening your own clinic or servicing a different population etc. This can offer clues on what areas of nursing interest you.

Remember, these questions are geared to rule out options so you are left with the few that best fit you.

Now that you have narrowed down which specialities best align with your interests versus those areas and patient populations that you don’t feel the calling for, you can try to shadow people that work in those specialities full time. These opportunities can be arranged through networking events from your local nurse practitioners organizations or through friends of friends, church members, or family members or anybody that can give you 4 hours to shadow or so.

Still confused? I totally get it, my Nurse Practitioner Journey followed a similar path. I wasn’t 100% sure of what I wanted when I first started but this is what I knew:

  1. I didn’t want to work in a hospital setting since I had already tried working in a hospital and DID NOT enjoy it.
  2. I wanted to work in a setting where I could sit down whenever I wanted.
  3. I wanted to work in the community and based on my resume I knew I enjoyed older adults and adolescents.
  4. I did not want to work primarily with mental health patients as I felt very burdened after shadowing my dad and his psychiatrist colleague for a whole day.
  5. I wanted flexibility and many different job opportunities (just in case I ever got bored).

Which is why it’s no surprise that I chose to become a Family Nurse Practitioner since it was the one speciality that fit into those specifications I mentioned above.

Alright, so you are probably thinking, no problem I’ll just become a Family Nurse Practitioner, what’s the big deal?

Here is what’s the big deal:

  • as a family nurse practitioner you’ll have to complete clinical hours in several settings to cover pediatrics, ob/gyn and variety of visits covering all ages from newborn exams to older adults. This may increase your hours and complicate your already complicated clinical situation because you are likely to need more than 1 site.
  • The more specific you get the more marketable you’ll be. Just like with anything else, sometimes it pays to niche down.
  • You may be leaving money on the table. With current shortages in areas like mental health it may pay to take the time and decide which specialty is right for you.
  • Flexibility on the type of school you are attending, depending on which specialty you are pursuing it may be easier to find online options that you can complete from anywhere in the country, at your own pace, versus attending classes at a campus which will require you to rearrange your whole life to make the schedule work.

So there you have it, these are some things to wrap your brain around as you start your NP journey. Want to learn more about what you should consider? Make sure you download this specialty by specialty comparison to help you determine what’s a good fit.

I’ve also made a quick video where I talk about this very topic, check it out here and don’t forget to subscribe!

See you next time!

 

Liliet Gomez, FNP-BC

Founder of Aspiring NP

The Place find support in your NP journey

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