How to Choose a Nurse Practitioner Specialty?

03/7, 2024 - Sohini

Table of Content

  1. Introduction

  2. Tips to Choose a Nurse Practitioner Specialty

  3. Conclusion

Nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists, also referred to as advanced-practice nurses, are registered nurses with at least a master’s-level education and additional clinical preparation. This allows them to coordinate better and provide specialty healthcare for a specific population, such as women and children. Around 270,000 nurse practitioners contribute their unique expertise to healthcare. To navigate this sea of possibilities, it is crucial to consider the interests and passions in the healthcare landscape to know how to pick a specialty in nursing. Keep reading to know how to choose a nursing specialty that aligns with your goals and makes an impact in the realm of healthcare. 

Tips to Choose a Nurse Practitioner Specialty

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurse practitioners is estimated to increase by 45 percent between 2022 and 2032. The focuses that the nurse practitioner is touching upon now are family practice, adult-gerontology primary care, and psychiatry. Learn how to pick a nursing specialty and have a fulfilling career in healthcare:

  • Which patient population do you want to care for?

Do you want to work for children, adults, or both? Do you want to work with infants? Do you intend to focus on treating patients with addiction disorders and mental health? Your answers will determine the specialty you intend to pursue in your career path.

Advanced-practice nurses focus their learning on the following populations:

  • Adult-gerontology

  • Lifespan/family

  • Pediatrics

  • Neonatal

  • Women’s health/gender-related

  • Psych-mental health 

If you know that you do not want to work with children under the age of 13, for instance, you can eliminate the respective populations, which would otherwise require clinical experience with children or infants to maintain certification in the field.

Read More: What You'll Learn in a Critical Care Nurse Practitioner Course?

  • Where do you want to work?

Another question you need to ask yourself is: Where do you want to work? This helps you answer the question, ‘how to know what nursing specialty is right for you’. Assess if you want to work in an emergency department or an intensive care unit (ICU) and treat patients with injury and illness. Or would you prefer working in a primary-care-focused setting? This will help you determine your place of work, facilitating a faster decision.

The responsibility of an adult-gerontology acute care or pediatric acute care nurse practitioner is to deliver extensive care with emergency procedures in hospital-based settings or hospital outpatient laboratories. Acute care nurse practitioners with an adult-gerontology focus may conduct their skillful operations, such as, for instance, suturing, lumbar, and emergency airway punctures, as well as inserting a central line and a chest tube.

In contrast to it, family, gerontological-adult primary care, and women’s health nurse practitioners and nurse midwives perform their work in community settings, for example, physician offices, retail clinics, long-term care facilities, outpatient dermatology clinics, mammogram units, or women’s health specialty clinics, where critical care is not a part of daily practice. An additional group of nurses that perform these jobs are advanced-practice nurses, who not only diagnose and manage common or complicated diseases but also focus on health prevention and education.

Primary care nurse practitioners have long been scarce at hospitals, especially in emergency departments, although the situation is no longer the same because employers now require nurses to go for acute care nurse practitioner certifications. This is mainly due to the fact that the specialty of the primary care nurse practitioner doesn’t allow him or her to intubate or use a defibrillator that is within the acute care specialty.

  • Which degree level do you wish to pursue?

Advanced-practice nurses must have a graduate-level education along with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The Masters’ advanced practice nurses receive adequate education and hands-on experience in their specialty to offer quality care. Being a doctor is not just about treating patients; it involves a lot of responsibilities at the macro, meso, and micro levels. It equips nurses to move up the administration ladder and to receive academic jobs at schools of nursing on different professional levels.

On a higher level, nurses can witness other wellness practices—medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, psychology, physiotherapy, and audiology—as they move to doctoral degrees, which nursing is not far away from. This might mean that in the future, DNP will be the standard for advanced registered practice nurses.

Read More: 5 Essential Skills You'll Learn in a Nurse Practitioner Course


Hope the blog answers your question of how to choose a nursing specialty. Possibilities of specialization are diverse within nurse practitioner programs; they allow you to select in which particular area you work. Family nurse practitioners can start with a general program; clinics that hire them are adult primary care offices, immediate care centers, specialty offices, and even skin care clinics. As you get more specialized in your specialty program, you will have even more difficulty finding a job. There are so many options, but not all will be right for you. By keeping your interests and career outlook in mind, you can find what is best for you and your needs.