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How can I get into the quality assurance/performance improvement area of nursing?

Dear Donna,

I am an RN (ADN) with 20 years clinical experience. In 2002, the hospital in which I worked for 15 years closed. Six months later, we moved cross-country. Due to family needs and health issues, I did not work in nursing for five years. Eight months after I went back to nursing, we moved again. With two cross-country moves in five years and working less than a year in the last 7 years, I have lost my professional connections and direction. I no longer have the heart or stamina for clinical nursing, but am very interested in the area of quality assurance and performance improvement. I would like to go back to school for a BS/BA. Can you advise me on how to move into this area of nursing/healthcare? Would a BSN be best for this or another type of degree — for instance, perhaps in healthcare management?


Dear Debra,

In reference to your degree, if you’re not interested in bedside nursing and don’t plan to teach nursing in a college setting, a BSN is not necessary. When deciding on a degree, look at the course work and curriculum for any major you are interested in and choose the one that is most interesting and exciting to you. As an FYI, my undergraduate degree is in healthcare management. Read “How to Get Back to School” at

Regarding breaking into the specialty of QA/PI, there are several things you can do. Start doing some informational interviewing ( with those already working in the specialty. Find them by calling local hospitals and healthcare facilities directly and asking to speak to the related coordinators/department
directors. You can also contact local insurance companies and do the same. This is a great way to gather information, make valuable contacts, and occasionally learn about employment opportunities.

Attend local chapter meetings of the National Association for Healthcare Quality ( as a guest. When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing that thing.

Additionally, start volunteering in a QA/PI setting. For example, offer to volunteer in a local hospital QA department doing anything they need you to do, even answering phones and filing if necessary. This is a great way to get your foot in the door somewhere, gather valuable experience, and expand your network. Besides, volunteering often leads to paid employment. I know at least one nurse who broke into the specialty this way.

My best wishes,

By | 2011-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 April 19th, 2011|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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