Think About These 5 Things Before You Decide On A Specialization

Now that you’re a registered nurse, what’s next? You’ve completed nursing school, gone on to work a few years and have gained experience in some wards. You decide that you want to pursue a specialization, for their multiple career growth benefits. Or maybe it’s for the higher salary that you have the potential to earn as a specialized nurse.

But hold your horses. While the benefits can be very enticing, choosing a specialization demands time, energy, and finances that you must be willing to sacrifice for a set period of time. You might not even see immediate benefits; they might come later in your career.

Still interested? Good. The nation needs more nurses like you. Ambitious nurses who are passionate about developing themselves and striving towards self-improvement. Here are five things your should consider before choosing your nursing specialty.

1. What Is Your Motivation To Pursue This Specialty?

What do you want to achieve by becoming a renal nurse? A perioperative nurse? A geriatric nurse?

You need to know what is exactly the reason for your interest in the specialty field of your choice. You want to help others? Is money a motivating factor? These are all acceptable reasons. If you are thinking of pursuing a specialization because of a family member or friend’s influence, that is fine, as long as your goals and objectives are in line with theirs.

Ultimately you are the one who has to go through and live with the decision. Knowing what motivates you will help you stay focused and succeed later, even through trying times.

2. How Are You Going to Obtain the Education and Training Needed for Your Specialization?

You should research a bit about the diplomas, post-basic certifications, degrees, and training courses that are required for the specialty you wish to take.

You can read up our guide to career advancement for nurses here.

Being a high-level nurse is a remarkable investment of money and time. It would be wise for you to think out how to pay for your education, and balance doing that with completing the required coursework.

If you have only a diploma in nursing and need to obtain your BSN degree from an expensive institution, a bit of planning ahead can help you save up for tuition fees. Some universities offer financial assistance that you can take advantage of.

Read here for our article on how to increase your income as a nurse. Every little increase in salary helps over time. It could mean the difference in you being able to take that course next year, or in two more years.

3. Does This Specialization Fit Your Strengths And Personality?

Not good around kids? Finding it hard to connect with younger patients? Then don’t take up paediatric nursing.

Are you a high-energy, challenge-seeking nurse that likes difficult situations? Or do you love to be in a more stable setting, working one day at a time, employing your full focus on things that matter? Are you an introvert? Extrovert?

Each specialization requires different skillsets and personality traits. Consider this well and evaluate how the work would mesh with your personality.

4. How Will This Impact Your Family And Personal Life?

Think wisely and carefully about this. Consider how your family might be affected if you have to work nights, weekends, or on call. Some courses are done at night after work.

Some employers do not grant study leave to their nurses. Think about how your family might be financially impacted if you were to quit your current job in order to study.

It is imperative you give it some thought now before you make the leap into your specialization.

5. Where Do You Want To Work?

Based on your working experiences, where do you think you’d like to work? Most importantly, which type of environment would you be most comfortable, and most successful?

If working conditions at hospitals are too hectic and large, then specializing as a cardiac nurse in cardiology would not be a good idea. Maybe you’d like to work more regular hours, in a small nursing center. Specializing in nephrology to become a renal/dialysis nurse would be a great idea. Some would also opt to practice nursing independently, doing house calls. A specialization in home care would be the best course of action.

Do you want to work near where you live? Or are you willing to move to another city for better prospects? Don’t limit yourself! Nurses are still needed at places you wouldn’t normally think of, like military bases or schools.

To get an idea of what nursing jobs are available in the area you wish to work in, check out our job portal, MIMS Career. Search for nursing jobs across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. New jobs and vacancies are being updated every day. Browse through our extensive database, and apply with our convenient 1-click process.



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 Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical care for people with life-limiting illnesses. It focuses on providing people with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical and mental stresses of the terminal diagnosis. The goal of such therapy is to improve quality of life for both the person and their family. 

 Palliative care is provided by a team of physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other health professionals who work together with the primary care doctors and referred specialists. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided as the main goal of care of along with curative treatment. 

 Although it is an important part of end-of-life care, it is not limited to that stage. Palliative care can be provided across multiple settings including in hospitals, in the patient’s home, as part of the community palliative care programs, and in nursing facilities. Spiritual support is often provided in more interdisciplinary teams. 

 When a medicine or treatment relieves symptoms, but has no curative properties, it is said to be palliative. The word noncurative is sometimes paired with palliative for clarification purposes. 

 Scope 

 Palliative care is for patients with any serious illness and who have a physical or mental distress as a result of the treatment they are undergoing. Palliative care increases comfort by reducing pain, alleviating symptoms, and lessening stress for the patient and family. It is mutually beneficial for both patient and caregiver. 

 Emergency care nurses and doctors have a critical role to begin discussions with patients and their families regarding palliative care as they see them go through difficult times in life. 

 Paediatric palliative care is a rapidly growing subset of this field, and services directed specifically for children with serious illness are in dire need of this. 

 Responsibilities 


 
  Assessment of symptoms
 

 A method fr the assessment of symptoms in patients admitted to palliative care is the Edmonton Symptoms Assessment Scare, in which there are eight visual analog scales of 0 to 10, indicating the levels of pain, activity, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, appetite and sensation of well-being. On the scale, 0 means absent, and 10 means the worst imaginable possible. Medications are often managed at home by family or nursing support. 


   Further actions 

 Effective methods to ensuring successful palliative care is to provide a safe way for the individual to address their physical and psychological distress, that is to say their total suffering. 

 Dealing with total suffering involves addressing a wide range of concerns, starting with treating physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, and breathlessness. The palliative care teams have become very skillful in prescribing drugs for physical symptoms, and have been instrumental in showing how drugs such as morphine can be used safely while maintaining a patient’s full functions. 

 
  Importance of counselling
 

 Usually, a palliative care patient’s concerns are pain, fears of the future, uncertainties, and worries of their family and feeling like a burden. There are counselling, visual methods, cognitive therapy, and relaxation therapy to deal with it. 

 Pallliative care sees an increasingly wide range of conditions in patients at varying stage of their illness it follows that palliative care teams offer a range of care. This may range form managing the physical symptoms in patients receiving treatment for cancer, to treating depression in patients with advanced disease, to the care of patients in their last days and hours. 

 Training 

 In most countries hospice and palliative care is provided by an interdisciplinary team consisting of physicians, pharmacists, registered nurses, nursing assistant, social workers, and others. The focus on the team is to optimize the patient’s comfort. 

 Nurses in palliative care are given extensive training in counselling, medication dispensing, and support. The aim is about relieving distressing symptoms for the patient. Nurses are also part of the management of the imminently dying patient, more so than the physicians or doctors themselves. 

 Work Opportunities 

 The work opportunities that we get is aplenty. Palliative care is often used interchageably as a term with hospice care, albeit some slight differences. They share some similar goals of providing symptom relief and pain management. Palliative care services can be offered to any patient without restriction to disease or prognosis, and can be appropriate for anyone with a serious, complex illness, whether they are expected to recover fully or not. 

 Hospice is a type of care involving palliation without curative intent. usually it is used for people with no further options for curing their disease or in people who have decided to not pursue treatment that is hard on them. 

 Typically hospice and palliative care nurses work in non-hospital settings.

Career Highlight: Palliative Care

Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical care for people with life-limiting illnesses. It focuses on providing people with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical and mental stresses of the terminal diagnosis. The...

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 For those nurses serving with  Kementrian Kesihatan Malaysia  (KKM), the start of your work life will present you with one of the toughest choices you’ll make: 

 
 EPF (Employees’ Provident Fund, also known as KWSP), or choose the pension fund? 
 

 Both are viable options in securing your financial health after you retire. Although retirement might seem like ages away, a good amount of planning and successful investments can mean the difference between being able to live comfortably in your golden years, or struggle with daily or medical expenses. 

 So which to choose? We’ll break down the points below. 

 Pension fund 

  What is it?  
It’s a monthly stipend of a set amount, provided by the Public Services Department upon your retirement. In addition to that, you also receive a  gratuity  payment, and medical/health benefits. 

  Calculation  
Here we will be assuming that you start work at 20 years old, with a starting salary of RM2,000, and continue working until you retire at 55 with a salary of RM5,600 (3% annual pay increase). 

 Your monthly pension will be your last drawn salary, divided by two. For example, if your base salary is RM5,000 when you retire, your monthly stipend will be RM2,800/mo. 

 In addition to that, you will receive gratuity payment, which is calculated as such: 

 
 gratuity = 7.5% x 35yrs x 12 months x RM5,600 (final drawn salary) 
= RM 176,400. 
 

 RM176,400 will be given as a lump sum, while RM2,800 will be given per month. Again, this is all assuming you retire at 55, with a final salary of RM5,600. 

  Benefits  

 
	 No subtraction from base pay. 
 

 Unlike EPF, as we will see later, there is no subtraction from your base salary. 

 
	 Guaranteed monthly retirement funding 
 

 Again, unlike EPF, where your money can be withdrawn for other uses, pension takers are guaranteed to have a monthly source of income. 

  Disadvantages  

 
	 You have to start and end your service in the public/government sector. It might hamper your ability to seek work overseas, better base salaries, or even some chances to study. 
 

 EPF or Employees Provident Fund (KWSP - Kumpulan Simpanan Wang Pekerja) 

  What is it?  
EPF is the accumulation of savings generated from deductions of your base salary. Currently, you can choose either 11%, or 8%, as  recently announced . 

 This accumulation of money is further grown by annual dividends. On average the dividend is around 6%, depending on the GDP (gross domestic product) of the country. 

 What makes EPF great as long term savings is due to the magic of  compound interest. . Your employer also contributes to your fund (12% of your pay). These two things make an EPF account grow substantially when properly managed. 

  2 accounts  

 Your EPF savings are divided into two accounts. 70% goes into account 1, and the rest to account 2. Account 1 is your retirement funds. Account 2 is withdrawable, under a few conditions: 

 
	 more than 50 years old 
	 Housing downpayment for your 1st house 
	 housing loan payment 
	 education 
	 medical costs 
	 Hajj pilgrimage 
 

 Upon reaching the age of 55, you will be able to withdraw from account 1. You will have to choose to withdraw one lump sum, or as a monthly stipend like a pension. 

  Calculation  

 Let’s take the same example as just now. Start work at 20, salary RM2,000, retire at 55, salary RM5,000. 

 
 Deduction from pay = 11% = RM220 
Employer contribution = 12% = RM240 
 We will assume no withdrawals are made over entire working period  
EPF annual dividend = 6% 
 

 The interest adds up year over year, and with the help of EPF’s  online calculator , 

 Total EPF savings at 55 years old = RM461,900 

 It is a marginally higher amount than RM176,400 gratuity you will receive from a pension. 

  Benefits  

 
	 Flexibility. At the age of 55, you can withdraw that money and invest in another scheme, venture, or fund that offers greater returns. 
	 Faster growth. As shown, even with a contribution of 11% of your pay, over the course of 35 years it balloons into a large amount of money. 
	 Freedom of employment. You no longer have to work within the constraints of the government or public service. You are free to pursue study or work opportunities as you wish. 
 

  Disadvantages  

 
	 Sometimes things don’t go as planned. You might hit a financial roadblock that forces you to withdraw from your EPF fund. An example of this is a medical emergency. 
	 It subtracts 11% of your base salary. 11% might not seem like much, but for people who live paycheck to paycheck, it can be a bitter pill to swallow. 
	 Annual dividend from EPF can decrease, depending on economic climate. 
 

 Making a comparison 

 Monthly funds 

 Assuming that you live until the mean life expectancy age in Malaysia, which is 76 years old. 

 
 Years to live off retirement fund (pension) = 76-55 = 21 years 
 

 To make a fair comparison, let’s subtract the gratuity amount of a pension scheme from the lump sum of EPF savings. 

 
 EPF at 55 years old - gratuity of pension at 55 years old = RM461,900 - RM176,400 = RM285,500 

 Stipend per month that EPF provides = RM285,500 / 21 years / 12 months = RM1,132.94/month 
 

 Even if we did not subtract the gratuity value, it would be: 

 
 RM461,900 / 21 years / 12 months = RM1,832.94/ month 
 

  It is far less than RM2,600/month from a pension scheme . 

 What if we invest all of EPF savings? 

 Say at the age of 55, you embark on another investment with better returns. We will assume 8%. You pile up all your savings into it. 

 Investment return x EPF savings = 8% x RM 461,900 = RM36,952/year or RM3,079.33/month. 

  It is more than what you’ll obtain from a pension.  However you’ll need to ensure that the second investment has better returns than EPF dividends. That in itself can sometimes be a challenge. 

 Conclusion 

 They both have their advantages and drawbacks. It seems like it is up to you to play it well, to ensure you can lead a comfortable life upon retirement. 

 However the main question of choosing either EPF or pension as retirement savings often boils down to your choice of employer. 

 Will you stay with the government sector for another 30+ years? You don’t want to end up with no retirement fund… No EPF or no pension. That’d be the worst. 

 If yes, go for the pension scheme. It is safe, guaranteed, and offers great peace of mind in your golden years. 

 However, with EPF, you are free to take up opportunities that come your way. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Australia are actively seeking out Malaysian nurses with extremely attractive pay. Opportunities for post-graduate education are more limited in the government sector; if in private, you get to choose when you want to do it. You can also fund it with your EPF savings, something you can’t do on a pension. 

 Choose the freedom of choice. Search for high-paying nursing jobs, and overseas jobs on MIMS Career. Browse, save, and apply for nursing jobs, all in one-click. Take the opportunity for higher pay and better work locations. Our pages are all mobile-responsive, allowing you to take that leap for a better job whenever, wherever you are. All our job postings are heavily screened to prevent scams and mistrustful behavior. 
   

 
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EPF (KWSP), or Pension? Which to choose?

For those nurses serving with Kementrian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM), the start of your work life will present you with one of the toughest choices you’ll make: EPF (Employees’ Provident Fund, also known as KWSP), or choose...

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 Working overseas, while initially scary, can be one of the best decisions you ever make. Being outside your comfort zone forces you to grow as you are tested by challenges that not many people will get the opportunity to go through. 

 Depending on where you go, it can be very different from back home. This change in environment builds confidence as a result of changes in your perspective. Not only will it look good on your resume for future career opportunities, a new country is a land of endless discovery that you can make during your downtime after work. 

 Fancy yourself working as a registered nurse in high-tech, ultra-modern Singapore?  Nurses are in high demand , and studies project that it will continue to be high in the years to come. Read on to find out more! 

  About Singapore  
 Be a registered nurse, and have job offer  
 Register with SNB  
 Pay the required fees  
 Obtain a Work Pass  

 About Singapore: 

 A prominent city-state in South-East Asia, Singapore is a truly remarkable place to be. It is seeing an increasing amount of demand for foreign nurses to be employed in the home care sector, although private healthcare institutions are on the rise too. Geographically and culturally similar to Malaysia, so you won’t have too many problems adjusting to the life over there. There are an approximate total of  39,005 nurses  in Singapore according to the Ministry of Health, and the number is steadily increasing over the years to meet demand. 

 Be a registered nurse, and have job offer 

 First you’ll need to complete nursing school/training, and have nursing registration. For those considering migration but have not completed your nursing programmes, the form for registration with MOH (Kementrian Kesihatan Malaysia) can be found  here . Once that is out of the way, you need to have a job offer by a healthcare institution in Singapore first before you can proceed. Pro tip: browse through  MIMS Career  portal. It’s easy to get connected with potential employers! 

 Register with SNB 

 After being offered, then comes the task of registering with the  Singapore Nursing Board (SNB) . There are three things to do here: the first is to apply online, prepare documents for them, and to pay the  stipulated fees . 

 The documents required are: 

 
	 Your passport photograph 
	 Marriage certificate (if applicable) 
	 Transcript of nursing education to include detailed breakdown of credit hours 
	 Any training certificates, graduation certificates, or letter of completion of study 
	 Your Ministry of Health registration certificate 
	 References/Testimonials from previous employer(s). This is to be written by your Head of Department (Nursing). 
 

 It’s important to note that those documents, if not in English, have to be accompanied with certified translated copies. The easiest way to do this is to get it certified by a Commissioner of Oath nearest to you. Also prepare some  “setem hasil” (Duty stamps) , which cost RM10 a piece. 

 These documents, once copied and certified true, will only be accepted in hard copy by mail or in person by SNB. 

 Pay the required fees 

 The fee for application is SGD60 for Foreign-trained nurses. Upon confirmation of registration, there is another fee to be paid, which is your registration fee. It costs about SGD55. You can see the  SNB Fees table here.  

 The process would take about three months, depending on situation. Once SNB approves you, you would be required to either: 

 
	 Sit for an examination to test for competency 
	 An interview, 
	 Or placed on provision monitored by SNB in a place that they see fit. 
 

 Obtain a Work Pass 

 Finally, head towards the the  Ministry of Manpower Singapore ’s site to check what sort of work pass you would need before starting your work stint in Singapore. There are many passes available, so choose wisely! Make sure you double check with your Singapore employer before confirming anything. They should be able to advise you on this. 

 Living in Singapore 

 Singapore is a small, hyperactive country. There are a lot of things to see and do during your downtime. Food lovers rejoice! Home to diverse ethnic groups, Singapore features the best of Chinese, Malay, and Indian cuisine you can find in the region. Take advantage of the numerous food courts the country has. They’re reasonably priced and you can really find some culinary gems. Due to stringent laws, they’re hygienic too! 

 World-class events always make a stop at Singapore. Concerts, charity events, shows… you name it. 

 Traveling to and fro your home country from Changi airport is a breeze. Many companies in Singapore set up shop as a regional hub for doing business across the Asia-Pacific region. As a consequence, many jobs here will have a broader regional scope, so travellers frequently travel in and out the city-state. Because of this, Changi airport is the most efficient in the world. 

 Miss Malaysian food, culture, and quirks? Johor Bahru is just right across the Causeway (or Second Link, depending on which route you take). The city has seen a rapid modernization in recent years, and will serve as a great relief for homesickness. 

 Public transport is cheap and efficient. Owning a car in Singapore might be a daunting task, but you can comfortably get by with your commute to work on their extensive network of buses, MRTs, and taxis. 

 Crime rate is incredibly low. It is not uncommon to see women walking back home alone in the streets at night, by herself. With a little precaution, you can get around with ease. Your family back home will worry less, so you can have a peace of mind. 

 Conclusion 

 Interested in working in Singapore as a nurse? Signup with MIMS Career, and discover hundreds of job postings for nurses in the country. Just signup, input your details and resume, and you will be able to apply for those job posts with a single click. Not only that, you can save jobs you are interested in for later viewing. 

 Can’t find what you’re looking for? Set up job alerts so we can notify you of new employers that meet your search criteria. 

 Signup with MIMS Career and take your first step in the path to working overseas. It’s safe, simple, and free.

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