How should a nurse prepare for a move from med/surg to the ED?

By | 2015-08-25T12:18:18-04:00 August 25th, 2015|0 Comments

Dear Donna,

I’m making a move from a med/surg unit to the ED. It is something I have wanted to do for some time, but I am a little nervous about making the switch. Can you give me any tips for making a smooth transition?

Going From Med/Surg to ED Nursing


Dear Going From Med/Surg to ED Nursing,

Congratulations on your new position. There are definitely steps you should take to assimilate into your new department and specialty.
Immediately join and get active in the Emergency Nurses Association. You will receive the association’s publications, and you’ll be able to access members-only sections of its website. Some associations even provide online mentoring or chat rooms where you can tap into the wisdom of nurses experienced in any specialty. This will significantly increase your learning curve.
Get out to local chapter meetings of ENA, as well as state and national conventions and conferences. Go by yourself or ask co-workers who are members if you can tag along with them. You’ll benefit from the education, information exchange, support and networking at these events. Remember that while no one has extra time to network, networking will energize you and support your career in many ways.
Find out what books and other resources exist related to your new specialty. Do an online book and article search, check the ENA website and ask others in the specialty for recommendations. Immerse yourself in self-study. Don’t rely on your employer to provide all of your education and training. Become an expert on your own. You’ll find quite a few continuing education modules related to emergency nursing on’s continuing education web page.
It’s always scary to move in a new direction with your career, especially when you’ve developed some expertise in another area. While some nurses may consider changing specialties as starting over again, that is hardly the case. Sure you’ll have things to learn in your new setting, but you will expand your knowledge base and experience and build on what you already know rather than starting from scratch. It’s all in how you look at it.

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]


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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.

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