Maybe you’ve heard a friend rave about his day on the pediatric ICU, or you know a case manager at an insurance company who’s always talking about how exciting her job is. Perhaps you’ve just had enough of your current situation, and you want to expand your horizons by undertaking something new.
Changing specialties need not be traumatic. It can, however, be stressful — especially if you aren’t prepared. Happily, there are ways to go about changing specialties seamlessly.
First, think about your motivations for changing areas.
What are you doing currently, and what path would you like to pursue?
Second, keep an open mind, and be willing to change. Find someone you’re comfortable with who’s experienced in the area, and ask that person to be your mentor.
Last, be flexible and open, learning as you go. If you have prior experience in a field and are returning, talk with nurses currently practicing in that area for updates. Contact related nursing organizations or professional associations.
How to Prepare for a New Area of Nursing
- Attend hospital in-services on related topics.
- Obtain continuing education contact hours online or in nursing journals to help familiarize yourself with the new area.
- Join a specialty organization, and subscribe to periodicals related to the specialty.
- Ask a nurse manager or staff development specialist to recommend ways you can self-educate.
You also need to think about your cover letter, resume, and interview. When writing a cover letter, address the fact that you do not have specific experience in that area, but that you’re excited to learn in this position. Mention your current nursing knowledge base, your desire to learn, and your strong interest in working in the new area. Say that you’re already learning via CEs, in-services, etc., and that you’re able to adapt quickly to a new nursing environment. Add a segment on your resume that lists CEs related to the new specialty.
During the interview, show the nurse manager your enthusiasm, sincerity, and interest in changing specialties. Also mention why you want to change and how you’re preparing yourself for this change.
If you’re committed, it will show, and you’ll succeed. So get out there and test the waters!