It’s Time to Reskill Myself: Should I Specialize or Generalize My Medical Job Skills?

In an evolving healthcare market, some professionals are asking whether they should become a generalist or a specialist. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and truly the only one who can make that decision for you is you. How you make the decision as well as the decision are both important factors in your future.


In Healthcare, What’s a Generalist, and What’s a Specialist?

In general terms – pun intended! – a generalist is a person who knows some things about a lot. They are sometimes called a jack of all trades. In health care, this is a professional who can care for almost any patient and recognizes when a specialist’s knowledge is required to solve a problem. Generalists have more loosely defined roles and a broader perspective.

On the other hand, a specialist is someone who has a unique and in-depth knowledge about a particular subject. For instance, a certified wound care nurse may know everything there is to know about helping chronic, non-healing wounds to close. And yet, without a more generalized ability to practice in-home care, a specialist may not be needed as frequently within the organization as is a generalist.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Becoming a Generalist or Specialist

From the last description, it may sound as if becoming a generalist is the best bet to ensure your marketability and employability. And yet, there are advantages in being a specialist. In today’s world where healthcare and technology are increasingly interconnected, a generalist who has a grasp of a broad range of concepts has a better ability to see the big picture than a specialist. A generalist also tends to have better transferable skills that can come in handy as you’re looking for a new position.

Oftentimes generalists become the leaders and managers within an organization as they have a greater ability to see the overall picture. On the other hand, most generalists have to sacrifice depth of knowledge for a breadth of knowledge. One of the biggest benefits of becoming a specialist is that with advanced education and certification, most earn more money. Greater knowledge in one subject is difficult to come by and so the specialist becomes valuable to an individual company.

The disadvantage is that while a generalist may have a wider range of career options, the specialist has a little less flexibility and a narrow focus. Specialists can expect better-earning opportunities, but they may be competing with a greater number of individuals for the same job.

An option that some healthcare professionals seek out is specialty knowledge and certification in one area while maintaining their general knowledge that enables them to care for more patients. For instance, certification in wound care enables a home health aide or home care nurse to provide expert care for clients in the home care agency but does not negate their ability to offer general care.



Whether You’re a Generalist or Specialist, We’d Like to Work With You At Anodyne

There is a continuing need for home health aides and nurses to provide care to a vulnerable population. When you are ready for your next home healthcare assignment, we are ready to work with you. Call our professional recruiters today! We are excited about the opportunities waiting for you.