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How to Choose the Right MSN Specialization Based on Your Interests?

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The healthcare industry is making giant leaps with each passing day. Healthcare workers have to work extra hard to keep themselves up to date regarding the latest practices in their fields. Due to this, many nurses choose to go back to school for specialization. This helps them set priorities and goals for their professional future.

You can specialize in one of the various areas of nursing. This is where the confusion lies. Choosing the right specialization can be crucial as it decides the next course of your life. While deciding on an MSN specialization, you have to consider various factors like income, work-life balance, and job-market. Among these, personal interest is a definitive factor. You thrive well in the area you are most interested in. This article will help you choose an MSN specialization perfect for you.

  • Do your interests lie outside bedside nursing practice?

There is a common misconception that nursing is limited to clinical practice. With the advancement in nursing, there is a growing demand for nurses in education, research, and leadership. If you want to explore non-practicing nursing fields, you can choose one of the following careers:

  • Nurse Educator: Good nurse educators are always in demand to train a new generation of nurses. If you feel at home in a classroom full of students, an MSN in Nursing Education program will train you for this career. 
  • Nurse Researcher: With an MSN in research, you can design and implement scientific models to improve nursing practices and healthcare services.
  • Nursing Administrator: If your strengths lie in management, go for an MSN in Nursing Administration. This program will train you to work in various administrative and leadership positions in a healthcare setting.
  • Public Health Nursing: An MSN in Public Health Nursing allows you to focus on entire populations and communities at once. Public health nurses work to improve the healthcare system in a community.
  • Nursing Informatics: If you are good with numbers and computers, an MSN in Nursing Informatics is the perfect specialization for you. Nursing informatics focus on creating software and systems that analyze current trends and infographics regarding patient care. 
  • Do you want to practice in less-stressful clinical conditions?

Clinical practice can be stressful and may cause burn-out in nurses. If you wish to work in less stressful conditions with flexible working hours, you have the following options:  

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP): An MSN in FNP prepares you to take care of patients throughout their lives. As an FNP, you can work in clinics or primary care facilities. The working hours are flexible and the environment is less stressful.
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP): An AGACNP works with patients of different age groups from adolescence to old age. An MSN in AGACNP prepares you to diagnose and treat various health conditions in patients of this particular age group. You will work in in-patient facilities and treat the patients admitted there.
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP): As opposed to acute care, AGPCNP can develop a long-term interaction with their patients.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): A CNM is trained to work with pregnant women and assist them through childbirth. In addition, they also deal with various issues that women face from adolescence to old age. They work in clinics and hospitals as consultants in gynecology and family planning.
  • Do you like working with newborns and children?

Newborn babies require an immense amount of care in handling. You may also come across babies with birth defects or other complications in a hospital setting. You can choose one of the following career paths if working with babies is something you might be interested in.

  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP): An MSN in NNP prepares you to treat and care for babies who are critically ill. A nurse practitioner for neonatal babies often works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP): A PACNP works with children from their birth to adolescence. They diagnose and treat children who are critically ill with acute or chronic diseases. 
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP): In contrast to acute care, a PPCNP deals with children suffering from common ailments that are not critical. They also play a role in educating parents about various health conditions of children and how to prevent them.

Do you thrive in highly challenging situations?

If you find yourself at your best in highly challenging situations, you should consider a career as a critical care nurse. They are trained to work in emergency situations and intensive care units. Working hours of critical care nurses vary. Sometimes, they get called to hospitals in cases of emergency. 

  • Do you wish to play a role in treating mental health issues?

Mental health issues are common in this age. A large portion of the population suffers from various mental illnesses. You can contribute to treating mental health disorders by specializing in a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program. A PMHNP works in in-patient psychiatric facilities and mental health clinics to assess, diagnose and treat mental health issues.

  • Do you plan to work in a highly paid nursing career?

Nursing is a field that requires a lot of effort and concentration. There is nothing wrong with wanting to earn more in nursing. The highest paying specialty in nursing is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). They provide care to the patients before surgery and administer anesthesia. As a CRNA, you may also be a part of the pain management team before, during, and after the surgery. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse anesthetists earn around $117,670 annually.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners are the second-highest earning specialty.


An MSN will open new doors of opportunity for you to contribute to the healthcare system. Choosing the right nursing specialization is the most important decision for your career. With so many options in front of you, this decision can be a bit difficult. Imagine the next 5-10 years of your life and where you want to be by that time. Do extensive research about each nursing specialization to determine where your interests lie. Various internet resources offer online quizzes that can help you determine which MSN specialty resonates with your interests.

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