Skip to content Skip to footer

Feeling under pressure to decide your nursing speciality?

Feeling under pressure to decide your nursing speciality?

Feeling under pressure to decide on your nursing speciality is one of the many things that as a newly qualified nurse you might  struggle with.

This may have been important several decades ago when there weren’t as many career options for nurses as there are now. Many nurses chose to specialise early in their careers and often stayed in that speciality for the whole of their career.

Nurses today have potentially so many different career paths o choose from.

This month’s blog post talks about a squiggly rather than a linear career trajectory and considers why it is important to take the time to make a decision about where to specialise.

The transition from student to qualified nurse

As a nurse and a life coach, I come across a lot of newly qualified nurses who struggle with the transition from student to qualified nurse. They can often feel the weight of other people’s expectations that they can hit the ground running, when in reality it can take a good six months or longer to feel like you know what you are doing. Sometimes you can be your own worst critic when it comes to thinking and feeling like you are expected to know everything from the moment you qualify.

The truth is that you can never know everything that there is to know about nursing.

Health care is a rapidly changing environment and nurses are required to be lifelong learners as a result. There will always be new drugs or treatments or as in the case of the pandemic new infections and associated treatments. Even the most experienced nurses will always have to keep themselves up to date.

Recently I interviewed Liam Caswell who is a nurse and a life coach for my Podcast Real Nurse Stories. We talked a lot about newly qualified nurses and the importance of preparing them for the future and for preparation to support their leadership development. This is something that both Liam and I have a shared passion for.

Career trajectory

One of the things that we talked about in the interview is how the traditional linear trajectory of a nursing career is now more of a squiggly line and that there are so many opportunities and choices in a nursing career now than there ever were.

As a nurse, you have chosen a career path that offers a unique blend of compassion, skill, and responsibility. While nursing is a challenging and rewarding profession, it is also one that requires constant adaptation and growth. At times, you may feel like you are stuck in your career, but the truth is that you always have a choice in where your nursing career takes you.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that your nursing career is yours to shape. This is something that as a nurse you don’t always realise when you are just starting out in your career. You might feel that the expectation is that you have to work in high-tech areas such as the emergency department or critical care. Feeling pressure from friends or work colleagues to go into a critical nursing area because this is what they did is a common issue.

You always have a choice

It is important to remember that you have the power to determine your own goals and to create a career path that aligns with your values and interests. Whether you are just starting out or you have been a nurse for many years, there are always opportunities to explore new areas of nursing, take on new responsibilities, or advance your education.

One of the great things about nursing is the sheer variety of career paths available to you. As a nurse, you could work in a hospital or clinic, a school or university, a research lab, or even in a corporate setting. You could specialise in areas like paediatrics, oncology, critical care, or public health, among many others. There are also opportunities to work as a nurse educator, consultant, or administrator.

Three years of exploration

As my colleague Liam recommends the first three years of your nursing career should be exploration years, where you give yourself time to try out as many different areas as you can. Only then can you ask yourself is this really what I want to do?

If you feel stuck in your current nursing role, it may be time to explore new opportunities. Start by thinking about your strengths and interests, and then research different areas of nursing that align with those. Talk to other nurses, attend networking events, and seek out mentors and coaches who can offer guidance and support. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, even if they are outside of your comfort zone. Stepping outside your comfort zone to take a new opportunity promotes your personal and professional growth. Staying out in a role has the opposite effect. You become too comfortable and your growth slows or even stops altogether.

Another way to advance your nursing career is to pursue additional education or certification. There are many nursing certifications available, each of which can help you specialise in a particular area of nursing or demonstrate your expertise to potential employers. Pursuing a master’s degree in nursing can also open up new career opportunities, such as leadership or research roles.

Stay curious and adaptable

Ultimately, the key to building a successful nursing career is to stay curious, adaptable, and proactive.

Keep learning and growing, seek out new opportunities, and don’t be afraid to take risks.

Remember that your nursing career is yours to shape and that you always have a choice in where it takes you. By staying open to new possibilities and embracing the challenges that come your way, you can build a fulfilling and rewarding career as a nurse.

International Nurses Day

This month sees the celebration of International Nurses Day on May 12th. This year’s theme set by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is ‘ Our Nurses Our Future’. 

I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate and honour the incredible work that nurses do every day, all around the world. Your compassion, dedication, and selflessness make a huge difference in the lives of your patients, their families, and your communities. So here’s a big shoutout to all the nurses out there – keep up the great work, and know that you are appreciated more than you could ever know! ❤️ #InternationalNursesDay

If you are looking to take your nursing career to the next level but are unsure where to start, consider signing up for coaching. A coach can help you identify your goals, create a personalized career plan, and provide guidance and support as you navigate the challenges of nursing. With the right mindset and support, there’s no limit to what you can achieve in your nursing career. So don’t hesitate – take the first step and sign up here for coaching today.

About the Author

Eva is a Registered Nurse and a professional Coach. She has 41 years of international nursing experience. She has held senior nursing positions in the UK, Qatar, and Perth, Western Australia.

Eva is passionate about two things, making coaching accessible to nurses and helping nurses who are newly- promoted into a leadership position to navigate the often difficult transition from great clinical nurse to a great nurse leader.

Eva is passionate about helping nurses navigate this transition, as often new nurse leaders suffer from imposter syndrome and don’t know what they don’t know.

Eva writes blog posts that speak to new nurse leaders or nurses who are aspiring to become nurse leaders and shares practical wisdom and tool to help them develop their leadership tool box