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How does a nurse looking for a new challenge find the right specialty?

Dear Donna,

I have been a nurse since 2013. I started by taking a job in acute rehab in a hospital because it was the only job available at the time, and I wanted to gain some experience. I hated it, but worked six months before I was able to get a job on a med/surge unit, I worked there for a little over a year and got some good experience, but I had the itch to travel. I began to work in travel nursing, for which I am on my second assignment. The problem is I don’t really like med/surg. I love travel nursing, but I’m ready to specialize in something I could enjoy more. But I just don’t know what that is or what I would be good at. I am interested in PACU/OR, ED, L&D or maybe even wound care. Are there any tools to figure out which specialty to go after? I want to be good at my job but also love it and be passionate about it.

Wants to Change Specialties


Dear Wants to Change Specialties,

There are no tools to help you decide which specialty to choose. And even if there were, you need to rely on something more concrete to make a decision like that. Read the article “How to find your forte” and do the self-assessment described.
Start doing some informational interviewing with nurses already working in the specialties you mention above. Find those nurses by asking around, through social media, at facilities you currently work at or though related professional associations, such as the Emergency Nurses Association. Informational interviewing is a way to learn more about the specialty, seek advice and gain valuable contacts. Read the article “The scoop on informational interviewing” to understand how to conduct this type of networking call or meeting.
It’s also a good idea to attend local chapter meetings or related specialty associations, even as a guest for now. When there’s something you want to do it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing that thing.
Keep in mind that clinical specialties are only one way to go. You should explore your options beyond the bedside. Do this by attending nursing career fairs, attending employment open houses at insurance companies and other non-traditional employers, and even attending my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar.

Best wishes,

By | 2020-06-22T11:02:51-04:00 September 4th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

About the Author:

Donna Cardillo
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, 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 25 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru.

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