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I am looking for a career change to a pediatric/PICU nursing unit at a community hospital. How should I do this?

Wednesday September 12, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I have three years of experience on a specialty unit at a large pediatric hospital. I have floated to different nursing units in the hospital, including the PICU. I am looking for a career change to a pediatric/PICU nursing unit at a community hospital. In the past I applied, but did not get the job, because of lack of PICU experience. How can I get a job at a community hospital without transferring to the PICU at my current job? Do I still continue to apply for the same position?

Pedi Nurse

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Pedi Nurse,

Because you actually do have recent and relevant experience (you said you have floated to the PICU in your current facility and have plenty of peds experience), you should be able to land a PICU job if you keep trying at various facilities.

If your heart is set on one facility and you have been unsuccessful in getting a job, get in touch with the PICU managers and staff nurses there. Introduce yourself, let them know how much you'd like to work there and ask what you can do to make yourself a good candidate. You may be able to find them online through LinkedIn (be sure to update your own LinkedIn profile or create one if necessary).

Also, attend local chapter meetings of the Society of Pediatric Nurses (www.pedsnurses.org) and/or your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org), even as a guest if you are not a member. At these events you will have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with nurses from this facility or those who know nurses who work in that unit or facility. The power of networking is that people know people who know other people. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it.

Some PICUs use volunteers to feed children, etc. Consider doing this as a way to get your foot in the door. I always say that when you can't get in the front door, try the back.

Persistence and determination always will win out.

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.