Robert Rosseter, MBA, MS, the Chief Communications Officer at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing talked to us about the importance of nursing students choosing their specialties and doing it early in their education. Here is his advice on the subject.
What is AACN’s role in the lives of nurses?
Based in Washington, DC, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) represents the interests of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education programs. Membership in AACN extends to the deans, faculty and students at more than 650 nursing schools nationwide. AACN advocates for more funding for nursing education and works with the larger healthcare community to improve the quality of our nation’s health care by preparing a well-educated nursing workforce.
Do you think that nursing students should consider a specialty at the beginning of their training, or wait until they’ve worked in the field for awhile before deciding?
It’s never too soon to select a specialty area in nursing. Students are exposed to a variety or nursing experts during their clinical rotations and throughout their program of study. I encourage students to spend time with these specialists exploring their unique contributions to health care. The sooner a student picks a specialty, the sooner they can tailor their studies to focus on areas of highest interest.
Why should a nurse put all that time and money into training for a specialty?
Completing a graduate degree in nursing will put you on the fast track to rapid career advancement and higher salaries. Nurse specialists are in high demand with employers these days looking for well educated nurses with advanced education. The evidence is clear that nurses with higher levels of education are and linked with better patient outcomes including lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates. Pursuing a specialty is good for your nursing career and for the patients we serve.
What factors should a student or nurse take into consideration when considering specialization?
Becoming a nurse specialist typically requires doctoral or master’s preparation, so nurses should take care in making sure their area of specialization fits well with their professional interests and goals. I recommend that nurses network with expert practitioners to find out exactly what the expectations are for the role. To find out more about your options, I recommend contacting the specialty nurse organizations for advice and recommendations.
What do you consider the best opportunities in nursing specialties today? Do you think that will change in the future?
Given the move toward healthcare reform and recommendations contained in the Institute of Nursing’s Future of Nursing report, nurses specializing in primary care will be well positioned for a variety of career and practice opportunities. Also, given the demographics of the population, geriatric nurse specialists will most assuredly be in high demand for years to come.
If you could speak to a nurse who is just beginning their career, what would you tell them about whether or not to pursue a specialty field?
Investing in yourself by becoming nurse specialists is one of the best career moves you can make. Pursuing a nurse specialty will allow you to develop a unique level of expertise needed to care for patients with increasingly complex care needs. Choosing a specialty early in your professional life will guarantee you a long career and prepare you to serve as a future leader in the field.