I’ve gotten a few questions about how do you make a nursing career change? How do you transition from one nursing specialty to another without any experience in the new specialty? And recently the question came up again on LinkedIn in the Nursing Beyond The Bedside group.
So I thought I would write a post about how to do this. Below are some quick tips to get you started with making a nursing career change from one specialty to another. It requires research, networking and knowing your own skills/experiences that can be transferred from your old nursing specialty to your new one.
1. What area of the specialty do you want to work in? Be specific on where exactly you want to work because just saying I want to work in Utilization Review can cover a large area such as risk management, quality assurance/improvement, case management, discharge planning, chart reviews, just to name a few. Narrow it down to what area of that specialty do you want to work in.
2. Where do you want to work? some specialties are not specific to the hospital. Your new nursing specialty could mean working for an insurance company, pharmaceutical company or a private company.
3. Learn all you can about the specialty. Read books, articles, take continuing education credits, do research online and find their associations ( every nursing specialty has one) and ask to go to a meeting (if one is available in your area ) as a guest. If you’re really serious about this new nursing specialty you could join. It would look good on a resume.
4. List all of your skills/experiences. I’m not talking about tasks you do every day at your current job, I’m talking about your experiences such as, have you done speaking – presented at an Inservice, grand rounds or a conference? Done any teaching such as been a preceptor or were a super user for the new EMR system? How about community education or community service you may have done? Have you worked on any committees or help write policies and procedures or implemented a new project? Have you done research work or have special skills such as chemotherapy, ostomy and wound care or Pediatrics?
Your skills/experiences you already have can be used to match the job description of the new nursing job your seeking. Even if you’ve only been in nursing for a few years, you’ll be amazed to learn you have more experience then you think you do and that’s a good thing 🙂
5. Network. Now that you know what area you want to work in, where you want to work, have listed your skills/experiences and have learned all you can about this new specialty, it’s time to get out there and network with nurses working in that specialty and get to know the organizations or companies you want to work for. This can be done online by getting active in sites like LinkedIn and Twitter or offline by going to conferences and meetups.
You also don’t need to just network with people in the specialty you want to work in, also look within your network of connections you already have and they don’t have to be people who work in healthcare. You never know who someone knows. Let your network know your interested in this new nursing specialty, get the word out you’re making a nursing career change.
Networking is a powerful tool to use when looking to transition from one nursing specialty to another, so get out there and be visible, learn all you can about this new position and align your skills and experience you already have with this new nursing job.
Tina Lanciault RN here, helping all nurses create a life and career they love. Check out the Getting Started Page for detailed information to help you succeed.
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