There are several LPN specialty certification options that are open to you once you have qualified as an LPN. Essentially what these certifications and qualifications allow you to do is to become an expert in as specific field.
This means that your skills will be in higher demand than just an ordinary LPN. Although many LPNs prefer to maintain general skills, there are also those that would like to focus specifically on some area that interests them more than other areas. Pursuing LPN additional certification of this kind is an option that is in fact open to all LPNs.
Getting LPN Specialty Certification
The first thing that you need to do when going through the certification process is to gauge your interests. In order to do this you must ask yourself the following questions:
- What kinds of people do you like working with?
- Do you want to work in a high-pressure environment or one that is more relaxed?
- What areas of medicine interest you?
- What are your career goals?
- What kinds of responsibilities are you looking to have while on the job?
- What kind of hours do you want to work? How much flexibility do you need?
- How does your job need to fit in with your lifestyle?
- What kind of personality do you have and what areas of medicine are your personality a good fit for?
- Do you have the time and resources to go through all of the requirements needed to become certified?
- How will getting a certification help your career?
This, as well as the tips contained in the next section, is a guide that will help you determine which area you would like to specialize in as a Licensed Practical Nurse.
Each specialty comes with its certification board. The differences in terms of requirements and so on between each of these boards can be significant. In addition different states may have different requirements in terms of certification for a specialty. It is important that you explore the various requirements and procedures thoroughly to avoid wasting your time. Take the time to do this research. If you do not you may end up wasting a lot of your time by not following the correct process.
Once you have gathered all of the necessary information you should then go ahead and fulfill the educational and practical requirements necessary to become an expert in your chosen field of nursing. The amount of time that this will take can differ significantly from specialty to specialty, but as you will already have a basic understanding of nursing to start off with it should not, in the long run, take very long at all.
Choosing The Area You Want To Specialize In
There are a few fairly basic things that you should keep in mind when it comes to making the best decision about what area you would like to specialize in as an LPN.
The first thing that you need to consider is how you handle stress. As you will see when you read about the different specialties below different levels of stress are inherent in each job. Determine whether:
- You are someone that thrives under stress and who does your best work when there is a lot of pressure on you (in which case you should consider something like an emergency room specialty), or if
- You are someone who does not cope easily with stress at all (in which case a career in primary care may be the answer)
The second thing you should keep in mind is what kind of setting you want to work in. For example if you want to work in a more relaxed environment you should consider a career as a hospice nurse as this is often a home based position. If you want a bit of excitement or danger thrown in to your job, consider working as a correctional nurse in a prison setting. A specialty in something like oncology or cardiology would be good if you want to work in a hospital or doctors office.
Test out a few of the options that are available to you. Because it is very difficult to know if you are going to enjoy a specialty without having ever done work in that area many hospitals or schools offer short trial periods that will allow you to get a good idea about what exactly a specific specialty that you are interested in entails. This is a great way for you to get a better idea of what area you are best suited to work in as an LPN.
A very important part of the process of deciding what specialty you would like to pursue involves knowing what the education requirements are for that specialty. This means that you need to carefully analyze whether or not you will be able to go directly from your LPN qualification to the specialty or if you are required to get an RN qualification in between. There are a variety of different educational requirements involved in different specialties, so plan a head and know what is expected of you before you make the decision to apply for specialty LPN training.
A great way to get an idea about whether or not a nursing specialty is right for you is by talking to nurses who already work in those fields. Ask them questions, find out what they do on a daily basis and consider whether or not they seem to enjoy that area of nursing. First-hand accounts such as these are great in helping you make a decision, but they don’t beat actually taking the time to experience the area of specialty for yourself.
There are a number of common LPN specialty certification routed that you can take. In some cases you may first be required to become an RN before you can go on to pursue specialization. However in the long run there are a number of specialties that LPN’s can pursue. These are common positions for nurses who choose to do LPN additional certification:
- Critical care nurses: To be a critical care nurse you will have to be able to handle a high level of emotional stress as you will be required to work with patients who are terminal as well as with their families.
- Cardiac nurses: An interest in the heart and its functioning and diseases is essential for a cardiac nurse as she will deal primarily with patients that have heart problems.
- Medical/surgical nurses: A medical or surgical nurse is one that needs to be knowledgeable about the cutting edge developments in serious illnesses and one that is able to assist patients in their recovery after an operation.
- Oncology nurses: An LPN specialty certification in oncology will equip you to deal with patients that either have cancer or that are at risk for cancer in a variety of different ways.
- Orthopedic nurses: An orthopedic nurse is one that is actively involved in the education, treatment and rehabilitation of patents that suffer from musculoskeletal issues.
- Primary care nurses: As a primary care nurse you will serve as the patient’s first line of contact with the medical system. In most cases this specialty will equip you to handle routine and minor illness on a daily basis.
- Psychiatric/mental health nurses: As the name states, this is a nurse that will deal with the mental health issues of a patient. Your responsibility will also extend to diagnosis, and you may be required to work with individuals, families, groups, or even, in some cases, with communities.
- Rehabilitation nurses: A rehabilitation nurse is one that works with a patient to assist them on the path to full recovery after they have experienced a significant illness or injury. Education as well as hands-on treatment may be required.
- Addiction nurses: Addiction nurses are nurses whose primary aim is to assist patients that suffer form an addiction of some kind. Your roles may include such things as detoxification and monitoring of the patent.
- Perioperative nurses: This is quite an advanced specialty as it requires that you assist n the operating room. In addition to this you will also be required to assist patients both before and after they undergo surgery.
- Correctional nurses: Correctional nurses are nurses that work in prisons. They have all the same skills as primary care nurses but in addition they are trained in the ability to deal with potentially dangerous patents.
- Emergency nurses: If you want to specialize as an emergency nurse you will need t be able to think on your feet. Emergency nurses are those nurses that function in the emergency room of the hospital. Their job is to make assessments of what is wrong with a patient and what is needed to help the patient in a split second.
- Geriatric nurses: If you decide to specialize as a geriatric nurse you will seldom struggle to find employment. Because the population is again at the moment there are plenty of elderly people that require hands-on and personalized care form a medical professional. You will need to have a working knowledge of topics surrounding the end of life to specialize in this area.
- Occupational health nurses: These are nurses that usually work in a business or work based setting. Your job if you specialize in this area will be to treat illnesses and injuries that occur at the work place. In addition you may be required to focus on the prevention of such illness and injuries as well.
- Hospice nurses: As a hospice nurse you will be under a lot of emotional strain as it will be your responsibility to nurse patients through the last days of their lives in a home based or hospice based setting.
- Nephrology nurses: If you are particularly interested in the kidneys and how they work you may want o consider a sociality in this area of nursing.
- Neonatal nurses: This is quite a popular specialty as it involves working with mothers who have just given birth and caring for their children alongside them. However it is important to remember that this drop can be highly stressful and heart-breaking. A death in the neonatal ward is far harder for most nurses to deal with than a death in an adult ward. Make sure that you have the stamina to cope with this.
- Pediatric nurses: This is also often a very popular choice as it involves working with children. The same warning applies as for neonatal nurses. You also need to have a love for children if you want to work in this area of nursing.
- Respiratory nurses: if you want to be a respiratory nurse it means that you have a particular interest in breathing and breathing problems, such as asthma. You will become an expert on how the lungs work.
- School nurses: School nurses work in schools taking care of the day to day injuries and illnesses of children. You will be able to work with kids and you will seldom have to face anything that is too serious.
As you can see there are a wide range of different specialties to choose from. Each requires a different skill set and a subtly different personality. If you are considering LPN specialty certification you will need to look more closely into what is required in each sector before making a final decision on what specialty you would like to pursue. This is not a choice to be made lightly as it will inform the direction of the rest of your career. If your choose a specialty that you are not happy with, you will not be an effective nurse.