What Kind of Nurse Should I Be

Tips for Choosing a Nursing Specialty: How to Find Your Perfect Match

If you’ve set your sights on a nursing career, then the question you’re probably asking isn’t, should I be a nurse? but what kind of nurse should I be? With numerous nursing specialties to choose from, each with its unique focus and demands, making the right choice becomes crucial to ensure a rewarding and fulfilling professional journey.

In this guide, we delve into diverse types of nursing specialties and offer advice to help you discover your ideal match. 

Types of Nursing Specialties: What’s Your Niche?

Selecting a nursing specialty is an important decision that warrants careful consideration. It not only determines the type of patients you’ll care for but also influences your day-to-day responsibilities, work environment, and potential for growth. By exploring diverse specialties, understanding their unique attributes, and aligning them with your interests, strengths, and career aspirations, you can find the perfect match that resonates with your passion and provides a sense of purpose.

So, what are your options? Some of the nursing specialties in demand right now include:

  • Cardiac nursing 
  • Critical care nursing
  • Certified registered nurse anesthesiology 
  • Emergency nursing
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Surgical/OR nursing
  • Mental health nursing
  • Labor and delivery nursing / nurse-midwifery
  • Home health nursing
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Oncology nursing
  • Orthopedic nursing

There is also a demand for those with broader nursing skills, such as registered nurses (RN), family nurse practitioners (FNP), and clinical nurse specialists (CNS). And as a bonus, these nursing specialties offer opportunities for per diem nursing,  providing the flexibility, variety, and professional control that type of work affords. 

Factors to Consider: How to Choose a Nursing Specialty

You know your skills and interests better than anyone. However, when it comes to how to choose a nursing specialty, there’s more that goes into the equation.  

Local Demand & Job Outlook

Unless you intend to pursue travel nursing, the needs of your local community should play a role in choosing a nursing specialty. This may not be very limited depending on where you live; however, it could be important for things like job opportunities and pay rates. Some nursing specialties in particularly high demand nationwide include emergency and OR nurses, pediatric and NICU nurses, and general nurse practitioners. 

Experience Level

The best nursing specialties for new grads often offer variety and a chance to further develop your skills. This way, you open up doors to future opportunities while getting more insight into what you like and don’t like. In-hospital specialties like medical-surgical nursing or OR nursing lend themselves well to this and are also in high demand. 

On the flip side, if you are heavily experienced already in a certain specialty, that may guide your choice. Healthcare facilities are in need of clinicians with dedicated expertise in relevant fields, and your experience could also allow you to be your own boss through per diem shift work.

Pay Potential

The average nursing salary in 2021 was $77,600 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though some specialties make quite a bit more – and some quite a bit less.

Since pay potential is a big part of choosing any job, compare average salaries for all the various specialties you are interested in. Location, demand, and experience will factor in here too, but salary averages will give you a baseline of what you can expect and could help you hone in on your best option(s). 

Work-Life Balance

What do the happiest nursing jobs have in common? They offer a work-life balance that helps clinicians minimize the risk of serious stress and burnout. And sure, a lot of things will affect how happy you are on the job, but it doesn’t hurt to start out by looking at the specialties that are known for providing a more well-rounded balance between work life and everything outside of it. Some specialties at the top of the list include home health nursing, public health nursing, and occupational health nursing. 


Consider where you want to work, whether it’s a hospital, critical care unit, school, private practice, assisted living, or patient homes. Each location has its own advantages and drawbacks, and each will impact your day-to-day routine. So if you have a location preference, pick a specialty that’s geared toward that environment. 


Any nursing specialty can be fulfilling for the right person. That said, you’ll want to assess what factors will play into your personal and professional fulfillment and then look for specialties that check off the right boxes. Things to consider include work hours and expectations, opportunities for professional advancement, general work culture, and pay. You may also want to consider whether the specialty lends itself to working per diem, which is a good way to ensure your core needs are met.

Find Your Footing Through Per Diem Nursing

Healthcare has evolved, as has the way clinicians find their ideal fit. Per diem nursing offers numerous advantages, including the chance to explore positions that align with your clinical skills and education, helping you determine where your talents are best suited. 

With NurseIO, a web and app-based platform facilitating connections between clinicians and facilities, addressing staffing gaps and temporary needs becomes efficient and seamless. By exploring the available per diem nursing positions in your area, you can take greater control over your career trajectory, whether you are embarking on your professional journey or seeking a change of pace. 

Embrace the opportunities that per diem nursing presents and pave the way for a fulfilling and rewarding nursing career!

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