Nursing as a profession has a lot to offer regarding job satisfaction and career growth potential. However, before starting your nursing journey, you must choose the area of specialization. Would you like to work in a hospital or a nursing home? Do you want to focus on pediatrics or geriatrics?
It is essential to carefully consider your options before deciding, as your major will shape your future career.
Nursing majors vary widely in terms of content and focus. For example, some majors may focus on clinical work, while others emphasize research or management. Since you’ll commit to four years of study, you’ll want to ensure it aligns with your goals and interests.
To help you make this decision, we’ve outlined some key factors to look into before picking a nursing major.
Assess Your Nursing Drive:
What’s your driving force behind wanting to become a nurse? Are you interested in helping elderly patients, or do you want to work in a children’s hospital? Perhaps you’re drawn to the challenge of working in an intensive care unit.
No matter your motivation, make sure the nursing major you choose will allow you to achieve your goals. For instance, if you’re aspiring to care for family health as an FNP, a 12-month FNP program online might be a better fit than a traditional 4-year BSN program.
Consider Your Learning Style:
How do you best absorb and retain information? Do you prefer hands-on learning or listening to lectures?
Some nursing majors are more theoretical, while others place a greater emphasis on clinical training. Consider your learning style to ensure your success in the program.
Some specializations, like anesthetist nurses and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), require more clinical experience. Since your performance can make or break your success, choosing a learning environment that will set you up for success is essential.
Weigh the Cost of Attending Different Programs:
The cost of nursing school can vary significantly depending on the program and school you attend. If you’re looking to save on tuition, community colleges offer more affordable options for an Associate’s degree in nursing.
On the other hand, research the different scholarships and available financial aid opportunities if you’re set on attending a four-year university.
Keep in mind that the length of the program will also affect the overall cost. For example, an online RN to BSN program can be completed in as little as 12 months and often costs less than a traditional 4-year BSN program.
Go Where the Faculty Is:
The faculty teaching the program will significantly affect the quality of your nursing education. When researching schools, look at the instructors’ experience and credentials.
It’s also beneficial to choose a program with small class sizes to get the individualized attention you need to succeed. Some nursing majors, like midwifery, are only offered at a handful of institutions.
If you’re interested in a specific nursing major, make sure your chosen school has strong faculty in that area.
Research the Job Market in Your Area:
After you graduate, you’ll want to ensure job opportunities are available in your area of interest. For instance, there may be fewer positions for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses if you live in a rural area.
Talk to recent nursing graduates and seasoned professionals to get an idea of the job market in your area. They can provide insights into the available positions and the skills that employers seek. Other platforms, like LinkedIn, can also be helpful for this type of research.
Be True About Your Strengths and Weaknesses:
Only some people are cut to handle high-pressure emergency ward situations. Similarly, working in a psychiatric ward requires high emotional intelligence and a certain level of empathy.
Be honest about your abilities and choose a nursing major that will allow you to play to your strengths.
For instance, if you’re not good with blood, a career as an Operating Room nurse isn’t the best fit. However, you might excel in a position that requires excellent bedside manners and the ability to build relationships with patients, like a hospice nurse.
Get Advice from Trusted Professionals:
If you still need to decide which nursing major to choose, contact a professor or guidance counselor at your school. They can provide you with more information about the different types of nursing majors and help you assess which one is the best fit for your interests and abilities. They analyze the job market to see what positions are in high demand and can also advise you on the best way to finance your education.
In 2022, Cardiac Nurse Practitioners, Hospice Nurse Practitioners, and Neonatal Nurse Practitioners are among the top 10 nursing jobs in demand.
Factor in Your Long-Term Goals:
What does your dream nursing job look like? Where do you see yourself in ten years? These are important questions to ask yourself when choosing a nursing major.
For instance, to eventually become a nurse anesthetist, you’ll need to complete a master’s or doctoral degree program. Suppose you’re not interested in furthering your education. In that case, consider a major that doesn’t require additional schooling, like registered nursing.
Speak with a guidance counselor if unsure of your long-term objectives. They can help clarify what kinds of roles would be a good fit for you.
Pick a School with Less Commute Time:
Are you interested in feeling the vibe of lecture halls and campus life? If so, you’ll want to pick a school close to home. It’ll save you time and money on commuting costs. You can invest that time and money into your education instead.
However, suppose you’re more comfortable learning online or have other commitments that make campus life difficult. In that case, online programs are always an option.
Many top nursing schools offer online RN to BSN programs that can be completed in as little as 12 months.
There’s no one answer to picking the right nursing major—it ultimately depends on your circumstances and preferences. But using the tips mentioned above as a guide, you can narrow down your list of potential majors to find the one that’s the best fit for you. Since your nursing major will shape your future career, it’s important to take the time to make an informed decision. When you’re finally ready to choose, go with your gut—you’ll know which major is right for you.