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Why Should Nurses Specialize?

 |  5 Min Read

Nurses who specialize in a specific niche have the opportunity to become experts in their field and influence practice, education and healthcare outcomes. Each nursing specialization is a leadership designation, though specific qualities and interests shape the area in which a nurse advances professionally. Pursuing a specialization is not only beneficial for career advancement but also for shaping the future of the healthcare industry.

The Importance of Nursing Specializations

Many nurses may find themselves in this position given the major changes underway in the American healthcare system. They may want to pursue leadership or educational roles, which will allow them to not only impart their experiences to a new generation of nurses but also to facilitate change from within the healthcare organization. The decision to specialize and advance professionally is a commitment that generally requires a master’s degree in nursing; however, the benefits are far-reaching making continuing education a worthy pursuit.

Areas of Nursing

There are many areas of specialization within the nursing profession (oncology, mental health, neonatal, etc.), each of which provides opportunities for nurses to advance. Specializing provides the opportunity for nurses to pursue career ambitions in leadership roles. Nurses qualified to fill these specializations will continue to be needed as the healthcare climate evolves and experiences a shortage of qualified nurses.

Nurse managers are highly influential healthcare professionals. They help to retain and train nurses and oversee the quality of care patients receive.

They make many choices concerning staffing, directing and organizing professional nurses in a variety of settings. They implement policies and procedures which focus on quality and achievement of outcomes, within the mission and strategic plan of the institution. Nursing managers and administrators are knowledgeable and well-versed in the accreditation process and state and federal guidelines.

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Professional nurse educators teach future nurses to handle patients in an ever-changing healthcare system. Nurse educators stay abreast of changes and updates in healthcare to disseminate this knowledge to nursing students.

According to the National League for Nursing, qualified nurse educators are critical for ensuring a competent nurse workforce and there is currently a high demand for such professionals due to discrepancies in the ratio of students to educators.

In addition, the changes related to requirements for entry into practice have created much demand for further educating our existing nurses in this country. A professional nurse educator can work as faculty in a college/university setting or in the acute care or long-term environment as a professional staff development nurse educator.

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The clinical nurse leader (CNL) designation was created as a collaborative effort by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and other important healthcare entities to better prepare nurses to be leaders within their field and to determine how to improve patient care.

CNLs are overseers in a healthcare setting; they are planners, developers and implementers of patient care. CNLs directly advocate for patients and work closely with other health professionals to ensure quality patient care.

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Choosing a Nursing Specialization

Each nursing specialization is a leadership designation. Patient services administration is most appealing for those with a proclivity for business, while the CNL specialization is more suitable for go-getters who wish to continue working primarily with patients. Meanwhile, nurse educators facilitate progress by preparing future nurse practitioners to handle changes in healthcare.

Though all nursing specializations qualify as leadership roles, there are certain personality traits, interests, and qualities that are more suitable in some areas than in others.

  • Nurse Managers: Individuals in this role have to be good leaders who work well with others as they will deal directly with patients, corporate entities and policymakers. They should possess solid oral and written communication skills. The ability to keep confidential information (patient records, financial information, etc.) as such is essential.
  • Nursing Educators: Jobs for nurse educators require compassion and empathy toward students. These professionals also need to enjoy research and pedagogy and possess the confidence to be considered an authority in the nursing profession.
  • Clinical Nurse Leaders: Clinical nurse leaders often function as team members and team leaders. They must be knowledgeable, have solid skills and exercise good judgment. Equally important is that CLNs be team-oriented and capable of collaboration with peers and with other healthcare professionals.

There is a specialization for every nurse whether they are working with other future nurses, patients or business professionals. The ability to lead, communicate and work well with others are qualifiers for nurses looking to advance professionally. Nurses in these leadership roles are in high demand, so nurses interested in impacting both patients and the future of nursing should pursue a specialization.

Career Outcomes & Salaries

Professional nurses with master’s degrees can pursue a variety of in-demand, lucrative career paths. Explore some of them below.

Nurse Management

  • Nurse Manager: Nurse managers work in a variety of healthcare settings, including clinics and hospitals. They supervise professional nurses and enact policies that ensure patient care. Nurse managers report an average base salary of more than $88,000.
  • Chief Nursing Officer: Chief nursing officers direct nursing staff and services in healthcare organizations. They make an average base salary of more than $177,000 a year.

Nursing Education

  • Clinical Nurse Faculty: Clinical nurse faculty develop curricula and teach aspiring nurses and healthcare staff. They make a salary of approximately $108,000 a year.

Clinical Nurse Leadership

  • Director of Patient Care: Directors of patient care ensure patients across departments receive the highest-quality care. Their salary is approximately $105,000 a year.
  • Healthcare Administrator: Healthcare administrators are needed in a wide variety of organizations. They manage staffing, dealing with accreditation and help impact patient care. They make an average base salary of more than $73,000 a year.

Sacred Heart University’s online Master of Science in Nursing offers nurses the opportunity to earn an advanced degree with an emphasis in nursing education, clinical nurse leadership or patient services administration. By specializing, nurses are able to professionally advance into impacting leadership healthcare roles. Sacred Heart’s online program enables nurses geared toward career advancement to take the next step while continuing to remain part of the workforce.

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