Know Yourself! Things to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Specialty

Know Yourself! Things to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Specialty

You’re ready to switch your nursing specialty or start down your path — but how do you figure out where the best place to go is? Or maybe you have an idea of where you want to go, but you don’t know how to tell if it’s the right decision. Either way, you’ll want to ask yourself the questions below and stack your insights up against the specialties you may be considering, or even to discover specialties you may have overlooked.

Are You a True People Person?

You may care for and have dedicated your life to helping people, but there’s no shame in admitting that you don’t love directly interacting with them all the time if that’s the case. There are plenty of nursing specialties that offer quieter environments and more isolated tasks that are suited to introverts. Likewise, a perfect specialty exists if you’re SO much of a people person that you want to not only interact with people but go as far as to lead a team of them.

  • Introverts Should Consider: Specializing in research-based roles or those that require less frequent patient interactions like Informatics Specialist, Forensics Nurse or private duty nursing.
  • Extroverts Should Consider: Specializing in high-touch and patient-facing roles like Pediatrics Nurse, Medical-Surgical Nurse, Critical Care Nurse or a frontline specialty where you can embrace travel nursing.

What Pace Is Right for You?

Are you amongst the thorough and methodical nurses who find comfort in slower-paced environments, the agile and challenge-craving nurses who thrive when working in faster-paced facilities or somewhere in between? Just like running, pacing yourself in your work environment means no long-term injuries, limited straining, maximum effectiveness and, most importantly, the ability to keep going! Though achieving this will depend on both your specialty and your place of practice, there are certain complementary combinations to consider.

  • If you like a Slower Pace: Becoming a Home Health Nurse in patients’ homes, an Occupational Health Nurse in companies and organizations that appeal to your personal interests or aiming for nursing research roles in colleges and universities may all be great ideas.
  • If you prefer a Faster Pace: Nurses who thrive on action tend to rate hospitals by the caliber of their trauma care. If you’re a fast thinker with a cool head and yearn for an exciting work environment, look into critical care nursing in trauma centers, ER nursing in hospital emergency departments, or OR nursing (in none other than the OR)!

Where Do Your Passions Lie?

Put your best foot forward, and your best Littmann stethoscope to the bright and beautiful hearts of patients who have stolen yours. If you’ve got a respect for and feel a connection to the older generations, consider a specialization that’s geriatric-focused. If you have a soft spot for pregnant women/soon-to-be mothers and babies and believe that you could add to the wonderful moments before, during and after childbirth, then consider specializing as a Labor and Delivery Nurse!

What Job Setting Is Best for You?

Although it doesn’t take specializing to get you out of the hospital as a nurse, it can certainly open some interesting doors. Whether it be schools, correctional facilities, job sites, offices, clinics, rescue helicopters, or research centers, nurses are needed everywhere — it’s a matter of where you want to be as a nurse. Even if you do gravitate toward a hospital setting, though, you’ll want to make sure that you’re paying close attention to the specific units or departments you’re interested in as much as the hospital environment as a whole.

If you know that your favorite nursing shoes for women were meant to hit the halls of a hospital emergency unit, you may be starting to realize that you are suited for pediatrics or you can picture a lot more than one specialty that would be perfect for you. The best way to confirm or narrow it down will be by asking yourself…

How Is the Job Market Where You Want to Live and Work?

Nurses are in demand across the globe and specializing as a nurse still tends to leave you with fairly open options. That being said, it is important (ESPECIALLY if you don’t want to relocate) to ensure that the specialization you choose to pursue is currently in demand and/or is expected to be in demand in the future where you are. If you like the idea of relocating, it may be worth looking into the demand for your specialty not only in locations that you’d like to live and work, but for travel nursing roles of these types as well.

What Additional Certifications Will You Need?

You’ll likely need to upgrade your education and demonstrate relevant experience in order to specialize. Not only may this be a major undertaking depending on the area of specialization, but even once this has been completed, there may be additional requirements to meet in order to maintain your status, such as annual recertification. Though meeting and maintaining all of these requirements may well be worth it, you’ll want to look into exactly what they are, and consider if it’s a feasible and wise decision in the short-term as much as it’s worth it in the long term.

Will You Be Bound to Your Location?

You’ll want to take a good look at the licensure requirements of the state you live in, yes, but it’s a good idea to see how far this will take you as well. While you may complete your schooling and achieve your status in a specialization that allows you to practice independently, you may require physician supervision when it comes to practicing in other states, or your license may not be transferable when it comes to others. While this may genuinely never be an issue for some, it’s worth looking into even if you don’t expect to relocate anytime soon!

Is Your Specialty Going to Stay Special to You?

Your specialty will always be special to the people around you, but when you’re able to work at your perfect pace, commit yourself to an environment that you love, work with the people and patients you prefer and do the tasks that you excel at, your specialty will truly feel special to you! Admittedly, you’re going to have bad days sometimes… But by choosing the right nursing specialty for your personal specialties and preferences, it becomes easier to feel enthusiasm before, engagement and enjoyment during and fulfillment after each shift.

Nurse of the Week: Septuagenarian DNP Lois Stallings-Weldon Still Sets a High Bar

Nurse of the Week: Septuagenarian DNP Lois Stallings-Weldon Still Sets a High Bar

Our Nurse of the Week, Clinical Nurse Specialist Lois M. Stallings-Welden, DNP, began her career as a nurse’s aide and at age 70, her pursuit of nursing excellence is still inspiring younger generations. This month, the nurse-leader, researcher, and educator was tapped by her alma mater, the University of Southern Indiana , for their 2021 Distinguished Nursing Alumni Award in honor of her influential – and ongoing – contributions as a mentor, clinician, and role model.

“Lois is an outstanding mentor for nursing staff at all levels, sharing knowledge and critical thinking skills in a calm, compassionate and easily approachable manner,” wrote one of her award nominators. “She educates on the importance of using nursing research and evidence to support practice changes to improve nursing care and patient outcomes. She is a nurse who exhibits passion for the nursing profession by being a role model and encouraging others to strive to improve and develop themselves.”

“I will not hire 16-year-olds because they are not dependable!”

Welden, one of seven children, was born in Indianapolis and raised on a farm in north central Indiana. When she was only 15 years old, she applied to work as a nurse aide at Clinton County Hospital in Frankfort, Indiana, with the intent to earn tuition and room and board money while attending a Christian high school and college that was a few hours from home. When she was denied employment because of her age, she returned three months later at the age of 16 to speak to the Director of Nursing, who abruptly said, “I will not hire 16-year-olds because they are not dependable!” Welden immediately reached out to her teachers and others to obtain letters of recommendation, and she continued to regularly call on the DON to give her the letters as they came in. “She finally gave up and hired me, saying (while pointing her finger at me) that she would train me herself!” said Welden. “She was an old Army nurse whose uniform was heavily starched, and she had a stern, no-nonsense look that was quite intimidating, but I refused to be diverted. I was determined to show her I was dependable.”

This young farm girl with no prior nursing experience embraced the various tasks she was given at the hospital which set the stage for her future career. “While working as a nurse aid there, I realized the joy of caring for patients and that I could be instrumental in alleviating their pain and providing comfort,” she said. “Growing up, I thought I wanted to be a missionary, but with my exposure working as a nurse aide, I knew I wanted to be a nurse.”

In 1979, when her four sons were age 7 and under, she made the decision to begin the nursing program at the University of Evansville while working full-time as a nurse aide at Deaconess Hospital, Evansville. “The hospital made a difference in my life,” she said, recalling the tuition support offered by Deaconess to earn her associate degree in nursing. “They believed in their employees and believed in me. After I graduated from UE, I had other job offers, but I felt like I had something to give back to Deaconess, so I started working as a staff nurse in the cardiac intensive care unit there. Deaconess has also been supportive of the other nursing degrees (bachelor, master’s and doctorate) I have earned.”

“They knew I had high standards.”

Throughout her career at Deaconess, Stallings-Welden has held the titles of assistant head nurse and department director, and today, at age 70, she still currently works full time in nursing leadership as a clinical nurse specialist in the Deaconess Magnet Program and Employee Education Department.

She has also served as adjunct faculty at the University of Southern Indiana since 2015, teaching online Clinical Synthesis and Nursing Informatics over the years.

Welden credits USI faculty for her decision to become a nurse manager. “They knew I had high standards,” she said. “One day, I was walking on campus with two of my instructors, and one of them said, ‘Look at your hands. Imagine if you could influence 80 to 100 nurses to give the same care that you do?’ I had four kids … I wasn’t interested in the manager job, but what they said got me thinking. I’ve been fortunate to hold positions to influence nurses to provide excellence in nursing care, use evidence-based practice and be involved in research.”

Each year, the USI Nursing Alumni Society recognizes a graduate who has made outstanding achievements in a career or public service. For more information about the USI Nursing Alumni Society, visit the society’s web page.

Why It’s Great to be a Nurse in 2018

Why It’s Great to be a Nurse in 2018

Whether you’re caring for patients, assisting physicians, or talking with families, you love what you do. No day is ever the same. We asked nurses why they love being a nurse in 2018. They gave us many different reasons, but they all agree on one thing: being a nurse rocks!

Thanks to all who contacted us. Here’s what some of your fellow nurses had to say.

“I get to help celebrate new life with mothers/fathers and family members by working in the Mother/Baby unit. Where else can you celebrate a new beginning, literally every day?”
—Teresa Kilkenny, DNP , APRN, CPNP-PC

“Being a nurse is great because I can focus on the holistic care of the patient—taking care of their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.”
—Kim Hinck, BSN, RN

“I’m excited to be a nurse in 2018 because as health care evolves and improves, our ability to make a difference in our patients’ lives improves as well. Every day that nurses go to work, they have an opportunity to make a difference. That difference can be with lifesaving interventions or it may be providing explanations to our patients and their families in their times of need. Every day as a nurse is different and exciting, but also incredibly rewarding knowing your actions matter.”
—Megan Meagher, RN, CFRN, Care Fight Flight Nurse Truckee Base Supervisor

“With all the changes in health care over the past few years, I look forward to nursing in 2018 to bring innovative partnerships with community members, focusing on enhancing healthy lifestyles and preventive patient care through REMSA’s outreach programs in community and rural health.”
—Kristine Strand RN, BSN, REMSA-Care Flight Clinical Services and Quality Manager

“As more and more evidence confirms the high-quality care that nurse practitioners provide patients, 2018 is a great time to be a nurse practitioner (NP)! NPs are recognized for delivering patient-centered, comprehensive care, and meeting the health care needs of patients in more than 1 billion visits annually. NPs are improving access to primary care nationwide and consistently demonstrating excellent patient outcomes.

With CARA, NPs have stepped up to the plate to help combat the opioid crisis. Beyond primary care and our work to provide care to the nation’s most vulnerable populations, NPs working in acute and specialty care are also meeting the growing the needs of health care systems and the demand for mental health services as mental health NPs. The opportunities to make a difference for patients, families, and communities have never been greater—making 2018 a great year to be an NP—and a great year for states to enact full practice authority so that all patients can directly access NP care.”
—Joyce M. Knestrick, PhD, CRNP, FAANP, President, American Association of Nurse Practitioners

“I think it is great to be a nurse in 2018 because the different ways in which you are able to help patients is endless. From floor nursing to rare disease education, from a cruise ship to an elementary school, from the beginning of life to the end, and every phase in between, there is a nurse who is willing to listen and do all they can to make your day a bit brighter.”
—Shannon Ambrose, RN-BSN, Clinical Nurse Educator at Horizon Pharma

“As I look back on my career, I realize my practice has spanned four decades! It has been great to watch our practice change from routine to evidence-based (EBP) and the application of technology to both diagnostics and patient teaching. As an OB nurse, one of the most gratifying moments is when a new life is delivered into a mother’s waiting arms. Being able to help families identify their baby’s signals can give a new parent the confidence they need to get through the first night at home. As a nurse, I have so many tools to utilize for parent teaching, and we can customize them to our families’ needs and language—such as teaching them comfortable breastfeeding positions or practicing mindful diapering to promote bonding and protect sleep (something every new family cherishes!).

I remember my first months as an OB nurse in the 1980’s and feeling conflicted when some of my colleagues taught patients based on their opinions that babies could be held ‘too much.’ Fortunately, science has proved hugging your baby improves brain development, so nurses can encourage bonding. I can hardly wait to see what the future of nursing holds and will get to watch it unfold through the eyes of my daughter-in-law, Becky Faifer, who chose the NICU as her nursing home.”
—Felicia Fitzgerald BSN, RN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, CLNC, Perinatal Outreach Educator and Huggies Nursing Advisory Council member

“It’s not every day you hear that someone loves what they do after doing it for 35 years. I can say that I have the opportunity to live my passion every day and have for 35 years in the NICU. I get to observe and listen to the language of babies and even sometimes speak for them. Many medical technologies have changed the course of premature infant lives over the past 10 to 15 years, but one of the most powerful is simply listening and observing the language of their movement, cues, and cries. I love teaching parents and the health care team about the uniqueness and language of the premature infant and how every touch and relational experience we have with the premature infant can have impact on who they will become.”
—Liz Drake, RN-NIC, MN, NNP, CNS, NICU Clinical Nurse Specialist at CHOC Children’s and Huggies Nursing Advisory Council member

Why I Love Being a Nurse

Why I Love Being a Nurse

In celebration of National Nurses Week, we wanted to share with you what some of your fellow nurses love about the chosen field.

On a daily basis, nurses do so much for so many. Whether they’re helping patients, comforting families, teaching students, or working with hospital administrators, their days are often packed.

No matter where you work or what type of nursing work you do, it all contributes to make a difference. Thank you for everything! If you want to personally thank a nurse who made a difference in your life, join in on Twitter with the hashtag: #ThankANurse.

“I am a Family Nurse Practitioner of 16 years, and was an RN prior to that. My joy is caring for my patients, and the trust that develops with that relationship. They fulfill me, and I help provide them with the care they deserve.”
—Kathrine Hardy, FNP, RN, Primary Care Associates, Anchorage, Alaska

“I love being a nurse for many reasons—mostly because it has brought me into the lives of people whom I wouldn’t have met if I weren’t a nurse. Some of the most interesting people I have ever met came into my life because I’m a nurse.”
—Lana Miller Davidson, RN, Public Health Nurse, Baltimore County Health Department, Baltimore, Maryland

Lori Wilt

Lori Wilt

“There is a tangible satisfaction in helping others achieve goals, whether it be in health promotion or nursing education. Having an influence on patients, students, and the community is the greatest reward in nursing.”
—Lori Wilt, PhD, RN, NJ-CSN, NCSN, CNE, Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Undergraduate Department, Seton Hall University College of Nursing, South Orange, New Jersey

“My passion for nursing stems from being influenced by two incredible historical leaders— Clara Barton and Mother Theresa. Neither are traditional nurses by occupation, but both spent their lives serving people in times of hardship, loss, and devastation. Their example has inspired me to love nursing by making a difference in the lives of others. The early foundation of Clara Barton’s vision and the compassion and selfless service of Mother Theresa have been constant reminders throughout my nursing career of what really matters. Despite the challenges, it is a calling and a love unending.”
—Pam Colvin, MSN, RN, CEN, Nurse Manager, Legacy ER & Urgent Care, Coppell, Texas

Veena Baksh

Veena Baksh

“I like nursing because it’s a profession that never stops giving. You learn new things every day, and the opportunity for growth is almost unlimited. I feel so good inside when I see improvement in my patients and also when giving emotional support by holding hands of family members who have just experienced tragedy. Actually, it gives me inner peace that I was able to help somebody.

My mom told me every time you have patients and family members and they feel better, count that as a blessing. I’m still counting my blessings every day, and–guess what?—I’m getting paid for that. I thank God every day for this opportunity I have been given.”
—Veena Baksh, BSN, CCRN, Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, New York

“For me nursing is the most rewarding, diverse, and flexible career. There are numerous opportunities to expand your career in a wide variety of venues. I choose critical care nursing for most of my career. As a critical care nurse I worked very closely with all members of the health care team to provide my clients and their significant others with excellent evidence-based nursing care. I was able to coordinate all care provided by the entire health care team.  Relationships were fostered with clients and their significant others, and I enjoyed the opportunity to support them in times of joy, as well as times of sadness.

After working as a critical care nurse, I changed my focus and became a Nurse Educator. I now enjoy a career as a professor of nursing in a baccalaureate nursing program. I continue to use my nursing skills as a teacher; however, my focus is now on helping to shape the future of the nursing profession.”
—Lisa Sparacino, PhD, RN, CNE, Assistant Professor of Nursing, NYIT School of Health Professions, Old Westbury, New York

Alicia Schwartz

Alicia Schwartz

“The reason I love being a nurse is because it is so rewarding to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s beautiful when you look into a patient’s eyes and see the window to their soul–when just a caring touch or word can make a connection. I love being able to establish a relationship based on trust that lets me guide my patients to better health.”
—Alicia Schwartz, MSN-ED, PCC, RN CCM, Registered Nurse and Care Coordinator for VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans, New York, New York

“All of the hard work that nurses put forth on a daily basis is all made completely worthwhile when you see a patient who once needed constant care regain their independence. I love my job as an in-home care nurse specifically because it encourages me to keep my skills sharp and think outside the box to handle the situation at hand. It’s just you and the client in the room and there is no one there to serve as a resource. Above all, I am passionate about improving the quality of life for all of my clients and that is a constant validator that I am in the right profession. It’s not a career to me, it’s a calling.”
—Vashti Johnson, RN, BSN, Director of Nursing for BrightStar Care, Cary, North Carolina

Denise Chicoine Photo

Denise Chicoine

“I am passionate about healthy living, education, and caring for others, but improving the lives of patients is at the core of why I became a nurse. I specialize in caring for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic disease with unpredictable symptoms, which can have both a physical and emotional burden. For me, caring for someone means addressing these emotional as well as physical symptoms.

Through my work, I am able to connect directly to people living with MS and their care partners, learning about their specific cases, and offering support and tools needed to manage their disease. The opportunity to work so closely with people living with MS allows me to build connections and get to know patients on a personal level—these are the experiences that remind me of the reasons why I love being a nurse.”
—Denise Chicoine, RN, MS, MSCN, Telehealth Nurse Educator, MS One to One, a patient support program by Sanofi Genzyme

Lillian Costa

Lillian Costa

“I love nursing because it allows me to get close to people unlike any other profession. During a trying time in my life, I had a wonderful experience with a nurse that inspired me to change my profession and go into nursing. Each and every time I have a special moment with one of my patients, I’m able to reflect on the moments I had with my late husband.”
—Lillian Costa, RN, Progressive Care Unit, Englewood Community Hospital, Englewood, Florida

“One of the things I find most rewarding about being a home care nurse is when I pass someone on the street, or see them out and about after I’ve cared for them. Sometimes they don’t even see me, but I can see how well they’re doing and how well they’ve recovered from an illness or surgery.

I’ve lived and worked as a nurse in the same community for about 20 years now, so I often see the people I care for as they recover. It’s great when someone pulls me over on the street to tell me how they’re doing, even when it’s been a while since I’ve seen them. It’s that ‘Hey John, I’m cancer free!’ that really makes my day and helps me know that what we do as home care nurses really does make a difference.”
—John Ramos, RN, Home Care Nurse, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, New York, New York

Linda D'Antonio

Linda D’Antonio

“I love nursing because when you pull the curtain, it’s just you and your patient. It transcends time and history, and I feel the same caring and love as Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton, and the millions of others who have the calling to serve as nurses.”
—Linda D’Antonio, MSN, RN, Senior Faculty Associate, Undergraduate Department, Seton Hall University College of Nursing, South Orange, New Jersey

“I love being a nurse because I love educating patients and families on how to take care of themselves.”
—Terry Esposito, BSN, RN, CMSRN, Unit Educator Navigator, Morristown Medical Center, Morristown, New Jersey