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South East Students Newsletter - top tips on choosing your specialism

5 Sep 2016

Deciding on which area you'd like to specialise in and what your first career moves should be can be confusing and daunting. Hamza Aumeer, RCN Senior Officer, is also a Mental Health Nurse, Learning Disability Nurse and Adult Nurse and has extensive experience in nursing education.

Hamza offers his top tips on choosing your practice specialism, and finding that first role:

  • Make contacts on your placements. Chat to your mentors and other staff who have the kind of job you would like – find out how about their career trajectory and how they made it into their role.
  • Don’t feel pressurised to find that ‘perfect job’ straightaway. Sometimes, it can be better to keep a wider career path, and gain experience working across different areas. The most important thing to develop your knowledge and skills, and capitalise on opportunities. Always aim for ongoing professional development. Look out for learning experiences and, if they come up, take them as you just don’t know when they will come up again.
  • Remember if you are looking to go into a popular area of nursing, it will be competitive. Be prepared to look at a number of different hospitals/employers, and possibly other departments – for example if you want to work in a particular surgical area, but can't get that job just now, try another area of surgery and you can always look to move across at a later point.
  • If you’re not sure which area you would like to go into once you’ve qualified, look for employers who offer development schemes that can allow you to gain experience in several areas – for example six months in medical, six months in surgical etc. If the employer you'd like to work for doesn't offer a development scheme, make sure you make the best of the preceptorship programme and engage with your preceptor, as you'll be able to get advice on your professional development. If there is no formalised preceptorship with your employer, you should request a support link with an experienced nurse.
  • Be an 'extended professional' - keep a wider view of developments in the nursing profession at large, as having this broader understanding may inform your future decisions and focus where you want to specialise later in your career.
  • Finally, don’t be disheartened if you don’t get your dream job straight away. So much can depend on the vacancies available, and the locations you can logistically work in. Remember that every role can be helpful in developing your career, will be good experience, and will help you to become a better practitioner.

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