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I had hoped a master’s degree would be the vehicle I need to obtain a position in a specific field. I’m finding this is not the case. Any suggestions?



Dear Donna,

I completed a master’s degree in health law and I have been perusing employer’s websites. I am finding that in a specific field, such as compliance, quality, risk or utilization review, experience is a requirement. I had hoped that this degree program could be the vehicle I need to obtain a position in one of those areas. At this time, it doesn’t seem that is the case. Any suggestions?

Experience Needed

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Experience Needed,

Congratulations on your new degree. You will be able to put it to good use by utilizing a more creative and proactive approach to job hunting.

While many employers may prefer experience in a particular specialty, it does not mean it is a prerequisite. If employers only hired people with experience, eventually all the experienced people would die off or retire. Every person who is experienced started out exactly where you are now.

You cannot rely solely on online classifieds to find the job you want, especially when breaking into a new field. You need to get yourself out there and visible. That involves doing informational interviewing ( with others already working in any specialty that interests you. Also, it involves attending local chapter meetings of related professional associations as a guest. 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 great way to find a job. Read “How to change specialties” (

A degree alone rarely will open doors for you. You have to sell yourself, your background and your abilities. Think of how your background lends itself well to the positions you apply for. You don’t need to have had the title of risk manager to have relevant experience.

Be more assertive with job hunting, learn all you can about the specialties that interest you and start making contact with those working in those specialties. You’ll soon find the opportunities you seek.

I cover all of the specialties you mention plus so many more, along with specific job-finding methods, related associations and companies that hire nurses for these positions in my “Career Alternatives for Nurses” seminars. See where I’ll be at

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’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 and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit

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