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I would like to change my career from prison nursing to palliative care. Do you know of any certification classes I can take?

Monday May 20, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have a BSN and would like to change my career from prison nursing to palliative care. Do you know of any certification classes I can take to boost my resume and help me get hired easier?

Wants to Change Specialties

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Change Specialties,

Many nurses tend to minimize the knowledge and experience they already have and realize how transferable it is into almost any other area of nursing. As a result, many nurses believe they need to get certified in everything before they do it. However, certification without related experience is not usually available or even helpful.

That being said, it is entirely possible to get hired into a specialty that you haven't worked in before. Nurses change specialties all the time. But you have to be proactive in the process, not just look for ads and send out resumes. Read How to Change Specialties: www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Change-Specialties.

As the article indicates, you should start getting out to local chapter meetings of related professional associations such as the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (www.hpna.org) or the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org). Attend as a guest. Whether or not there is a local chapter in your area, do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with those nurses already working in the specialty. When there's something you want to do it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it. Networking is known to be the most effective way to find a job.

In the meantime you certainly can start doing some self-study on the specialty but there is no need to load up your resume with CE courses. You can mention on an interview that you have been reading and studying to prepare for the transition. Use the Search feature here at Nurse.com and enter the word "Palliative" to find related articles and jobs.

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.