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How can I break into a completely different specialty after nearly three years?

Monday October 22, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I have been working on an adult telemetry med/surg unit for nearly three years, and I am involved in committees at my facility. How can I break into a completely different unit, such as NICU?

Wants a Change

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants a Change,

Changing specialties is a process. If you'd like to stay with the same employer, you might start by mentioning your interest to your supervisor — if you are comfortable with this and it seems appropriate. He or she may be able to assist you in the process through internal channels. Your employer should have a mechanism or procedure in place where employees can request a transfer.

It is advisable to do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with nurses already working in this specialty, including supervisors and managers of the NICU. If your immediate supervisor knows of your interest and intent, there should be no problem doing this with nurses at your place of employment. Otherwise, or in addition, you can interview nurses who work in the specialty at other hospitals. This is a great way to gather information and advice, make valuable contacts and let others know what interests you.

You also should attend local chapter meetings of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (www.nann.org) as a guest. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it.

Read “How to change specialties” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/ChangeSpecialties).

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” 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.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.