How can a nurse with no neonatal experience change specialties?

By | 2021-04-07T15:06:42-04:00 August 17th, 2015|2 Comments

Dear Donna,

I have been in home care for almost 15 years and have spent 22 years as an RN. I’m considering a move to neonatal care. I have no experience in this area of nursing, but I’m a mother of two who loves babies. Any advice on how to go about this?

Burned-Out RN


Dear Burned-Out RN,

Because of your extended absence from the hospital, not to mention the changing nursing job market, it is not likely that you would get hired into a hospital nursery position. However, there are other opportunities for you to work with babies.

Your home care experience, combined with your own parenting skills and love of babies, could make you a perfect candidate to work for the Nurse-Family Partnership, presuming a branch exists in your area. NFP provides maternal and early childhood health programs to families most in need. Find out more about the program, including employment opportunities, by visiting their website. It’s an amazing program and an incredible opportunity for nurses to make a positive difference in the world.

Additionally, there are well-baby clinics offered through local public health departments, as well as some home care agencies. You might also see if there is a Head Start program in your area. Most foster care agencies also hire nurses to make visits.

There are many other options for you to explore as well. I suggest that you get out to some nursing career fairs in your area to see what else is available. This is also a good way to hone your self-marketing and networking skills.

Get out to some local chapter meetings of organizations such as the American Nurses Association and/or the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses. Attend as a guest for now if you’re not a member. When there’s something you want to do it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it. This type of face-to-face networking is well-known to be a great way to explore options, expand your professional network, learn of job opportunities and get interviews. Everything happens through networking.

The article “How to find your forte” provides additional tips and advice for making a career change.

Best wishes,


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP,’s career advice columnist is president of Known as The Inspiration Nurse, she is a keynote speaker, retreat and seminar leader, and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” She brings more than 20 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru. To ask Donna question, email [email protected]

Prepare for the RNC-INC exam with the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing Certification Review Course. offers a fully online self-paced prep course.


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About the Author:

Barry Bottino
Barry Bottino is a freelance writer and editor who has more than 25 years of experience at various newspapers and magazines.


  1. Avatar
    Sahar April 19, 2018 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    If NICU is your passion then nothing can stop that. From my experience taking some further education to get your neonatal specialty through approved schools will help. Also some hospitals hire for specialty training positions. Which allow you to learn the theory and have some clinical experience before you start work. Its a very supportive environment for nurses trying ro get into a new specialty.

  2. Avatar
    Ivy Baker April 20, 2018 at 4:05 am - Reply

    I liked that you pointed out that there are baby clinics. That does seem like a good thing to know about if you really want to just work with babies. My little sister loves babies and she wants to be a nurse. Working in a neonatal clinic seems like a good place for her to end up.

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