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Changing nursing specialties: Two strategies to get started

If you’re a nurse who’s been focused on one specialty, it may seem daunting to move into a new area of nursing. Is that perceived effort holding you back? Let’s examine two important ways for exploring such a career change.

Let’s say you’ve worked in the ED for eight years and you’re ready for something different. You’re adept with technology and have top-notch assessment skills, and you’re a solid team player. In short, you’re a good nurse.

Research, research, research

When considering a major change in your career, embark on a concentrated period of research. For example, if you’d like to transition from the ED to hospice, it would be prudent to learn everything you can about hospice before applying for positions.

Your research can begin with journals, blogs, articles, podcasts, social media and other sources related to hospice. For any nursing specialty, there is a plethora of information to be gleaned from assiduous online searches.

Most specialties have at least one professional organization representing that area of practice, and perusing the websites of these organizations is a good idea. For the purposes of our example, the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice would be sites to investigate.

Groups on LinkedIn and Facebook can be helpful, as will following related trends on platforms such as Twitter.

Meet and greet

Concurrent with your research, another important step is meeting professionals who work in the specialty area you’re exploring.

From the perusal of various sources, you’ll learn who the thought leaders are in your chosen area of inquiry. You may be surprised how accessible some of these individuals can be, especially if you connect with them through venues such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

Through following social media feeds related to hospice, the earnest nurse seeking information can contact hospice nurses who blog about their work, share on social media or spend time in related groups and forums.

Based on authentic connections on social media, some relationships can be moved to phone, Skype or in-person meetings wherein you build further connections; certain relationships may create opportunities for informational interviews and a deeper dive into the possibilities.

Lastly, nursing conferences are great places to meet and connect with practicing nurses in various specialties. And if you decide that area of specialty really isn’t for you after all, the benefits of such an enriching experience will still be yours.

Dig deep

If there’s a realm of nursing specialty of interest to you, use research and relationship-building as the basis for your exploration. If you choose to not pursue this area of practice, you’ll have learned a great deal and met some very interesting nurses along the way. And if you do move forward, you’ve grounded yourself with information and relationships that can serve you for years to come.

By | 2020-04-15T16:18:19-04:00 November 3rd, 2015|Categories: Nursing careers and jobs|2 Comments
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a popular nursing podcast, and also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He brings a plethora of experience as a nursing thought leader, holistic career coach, writer and nurse entrepreneur.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Elizabeth Scala November 3, 2015 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Keith, you share some really valid points here. In my line of work, I run into nurses all of the time who want to leave what they are doing because they no longer enjoy it. However, when I ask them what they would rather do instead, they don’t have much of an idea about that. It seems to me that before we make a move to a new nursing career, we ought to do ourselves the due diligence of actually figuring out what we enjoy. Otherwise we may find ourselves in a new role that we don’t even like (or dislike even greater than the one we left behind). Thanks for another great post! Sharing with my audience.

  2. Avatar
    Keith Carlson November 8, 2015 at 4:34 am - Reply

    Thanks, Elizabeth. Due diligence is so very important. Of course, we sometimes just don’t know until we’ve been in a new position or specialty for a while, but research, digging deep, and making an informed decision can help. Intuition is also important, and we sometimes just have to trust our gut. And when things don’t work, we pivot to something new with as much grace as possible.

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