N ursing is one of the most challeng- ing and rewarding careers a person can have. Aging baby boomers and the Affordable Care Act place nurses in greater demand than ever before. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employ- ment of regis- tered nurses is expected t o g r o w 15% from 2 0 1 6 t o 2026. With growth in t he f ield comes tre- mendous opportunity to focus in on one of many specialized areas in hospital, ambulatory, and community settings. There is a specialty for you whether you’re considering changing specializations in order to work with a new patient subset or focus, increase your respon- sibilitie- sand pay, or alter your schedule to better accommo- date your home life. KNOW YOURSELF According to DiscoverNursing.com, there are more than 100 nursing specialties. With so many opportunities to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down the options. The first thing to consider when changing specializa- tions is what you are really passionate about. You will only enjoy your job and be successful if you like what you’re doing. These important questions can help you direct your search: • Is there a certain population group that you love to work with (e.g., infants, chil- dren, geriatrics, underserved, etc.)? • Are there specific types of cases that you are most drawn to? Are you most inter- ested in preventative measures, acute care treatment, data analysis, or patient safety? • Do you feel driven to develop long-term relationships with patients, or do you want to make an impact on larger com- munity groups through education or pol- icy changes? • Is there an aspect of your current work that you feel motivated to improve or are interested in overseeing? • Do you want to work clinically, or would you prefer to manage a depart- ment or focus on research, education, or informatics? • How important is the schedule? Do you need to work specific hours due to child- care issues or other responsibilities, or are your work hours flexible? Once you determine what specific area(s) you are most interested in, talk with nurses who are currently in that specialization to learn more about the field. Find a mentor who can help you understand the real ins and outs of the job, and who will be open about the challenges and rewards of that specialty. Shadowing in the department you are inter- ested in for a couple of days can be a useful exercise to determine if your move is dictated by “the grass is always greener” mindset, or whether it’s really a career change that’s right for you. Ask yourself the following questions. Does it look and feel the way I thought it would? Can I see myself doing this? Learn more about the education and/or certification needed to move into that depart- ment, as well as the length of time required to Changing Specializations in Hospitals and Ambulatory Settings Find you true calling Karen Ouzts, PhD, RN, APHN-BC FOCUS ON EDUCATION  |  SPECIALIZATIONS www.advanceweb.com | 2018 | FOCUS ON EDUCATION 15 MIKE GALBAN/ISTOCK