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Experts offer tips to switch nursing specialties

Nurses continue to become more specialty-focused as they hone new skills and move their careers forward. With more than 100 to choose from, nurses may opt to transition to a new specialty. Nurse leaders share how to choose the right specialty when making a switch and how to make the transition as positive as possible.

1. Most positions are found through networking. Having a resume to send quickly to those hiring lets them know you are professional and seek professional growth.

2. Ask yourself these questions: Can I see myself in this new clinical environment? Are my expectations realistic? Does the new specialty play to my natural strengths and passion?

3. Engage in active learning by subscribing to professional journals on the topic. Learn from multiple sources, such as RNs, unit secretaries, parents, families and MDs.

4. Attend regional, state and national conferences of the specialty you are considering. Are you energized by learning about the topic and the people involved?

5. Attend sessions, meet as many people as you can, observe and ask questions.

6. When interacting with managers or prospective peers, sell yourself and demonstrate your passion for the topic.

7. Shadow a receptive colleague in the new specialty, which should overlap with shift changes, if possible. Spend time observing role responsibilities, teamwork and unit culture.

8. Do your homework on needed knowledge and preparation for success in the new specialty.

9. Be patient. You may be a seasoned nurse but you are returning to novice or beginner in the new specialty.

10. Continue with the essence of nursing by being a caring, compassionate and dedicated professional nurse.

Sources: Bernice L. Coleman, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, FAHA, FAAN, research scientist II and nurse practitioner, Heart Institute Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Pat Hogan, MA, RN, NEA-BC, director, program evaluation, Krasnoff Quality Management Institute, North Shore-LIJ Health System, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; E. Mary Johnson, BSN, RN-C, NE-BC, consultant, Career Coach for Nurses; Debbie Mitchell-Dozier, BSN, RN, staff nurse, division of nephrology, Kidney & Blood Pressure Center, Tufts Medical Center, Boston; Elaine C. Meyer, PhD, RN, director, Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice, Boston Children’s Hospital, and associate professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School; Linda Ritter, RN, CPON, clinical nurse IV, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford, Calif.; Sue Weaver, MSN, RN, CRNI, NEA-BC, education specialist, Saint Clare’s Health System, Denville, N.J., and chairwoman, NJSNA Congress on Policy and Practice; and Jill Wegener, MSN, RN, CCRN, chief nursing officer, Blythedale Children’s Hospital, Valhalla, N.Y.

For more on changing specialties, visit

By | 2015-01-31T00:00:00-05:00 January 31st, 2015|Categories: National|0 Comments

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