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I am coming off medical leave and would like to return to the psychiatric specialty. How do I begin to prepare for this?

Tuesday January 22, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I've been on medical leave from my cardiac telemetry position for more than two years, because of multiple hip and knee surgeries. Although it hasn't been documented yet, my doctors verbally confirmed my suspicion that I shouldn't be working 12-hour shifts anymore. I have a pre-nursing background in psychiatry. For 10 years, I was a psychiatric technician with experience in small community residential facilities, locked inpatient units and state hospitals. I probably will be cleared to work in the next three to four months and am very interested in returning to that specialty. I don't know where to begin to update my knowledge and prepare to apply for a position in that field. What do you suggest?

Needs to Change Specialties

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs to Change Specialties,

Sounds like a plan. Start attending local chapter meetings of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (www.apna.org) as a guest for now. You should join after you get a job. Do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with members and officers. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it. Networking is known to be a very effective way to find a job.

Start getting up-to-date with information, issues and trends by working on online CEs, such as the ones here CE.Nurse.com/Psychiatric-Nursing. You'll find additional educational resources on the APNA website.

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.