How long does a nurse need to work in a hospital before moving into other specialties or work areas?

By | 2022-05-05T11:48:09-04:00 September 5th, 2014|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

How long does a nurse need to work in a hospital before moving into other specialties or work areas? I am a fairly new nurse and have worked for two years now on a telemetry unit. I would like to try some other things outside of the hospital like school nursing or public health nursing. Experienced nurses are telling me I should get at least four years of hospital experience and others are telling me that two years is enough. I am confused and not sure what to do at
this point.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Confused,

Two years of telemetry experience is more than enough hospital experience to allow you to go virtually anywhere you want to go at this point. More importantly, the job market for nurses is changing as care shifts out of the hospital and into the ambulatory/outpatient/community setting.

You are wise to explore your options. Speak with nurses in other practice settings and doing an informational interview ( with them. You can also attend local chapter meetings (as a guest for now) of specialty associations you’re interested in, such as the National Association of School Nurses ( and the American Academy of Ambulatory Care nurses ( (this association covers a broad category of specialties, giving you exposure to nurses working in those specialties.

As you go forward, keep in mind that every nurse has differing interests, needs and career goals and aspirations. Many people will try to give you advice and tell you what you what they think you should and shouldn’t do in your nursing career. In the end, you are the architect of your own career. Follow your heart, go with your gut and carve out your own unique path in nursing.

You might find this article helpful in planning your future: Nursing – A new paradigm (


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