One of the great things about nursing is that there are so many roads to take throughout your career. Many nurses change specialties several times before they retire. However, many don’t change when they want to because they don’t have directions. Starting something new is daunting and not something that should be done lightly.
There’s a lot to think about when changing specialties. Whether you’re ready for something different or are looking for your dream job, think of finding a new specialty as planning a road trip. Where are you going, and what route will you take to get there?
Step 1: Pick your destination.
What specialty are you considering?
Are you ready for a big change, like going from geriatrics to pediatrics? Looking to get into something more challenging, like going from a step-down to an ICU? Or do you want something less intense, like working at home care or a doctor’s office?
You have to know where you want to go before you can figure out how to get there.
Step 2: Think about what you want from your new adventure.
Think about your ideal work environment. Do you prefer a rotating schedule, steady daylight, or a weekend program? What other areas of nursing are you interested in? Was there a specialty that intrigued you in nursing school that you’d like to revisit?
Why are you setting out on this journey? If you’re thinking of changing your specialty, there’s a good chance that you’re unhappy with your current one. Spend some time thinking about what you’re looking for so that you make the right decision.
Step 3: Talk to the locals.
When you’re planning a road trip, the best recommendations come from locals, and the same is true when changing your nursing specialty. Talk to the nurses who work where you want to go.
It’s easy to think you understand what happens on another floor or in another facility, but you never really know until you talk to people with inside experience. There are challenges and rewards you’ve probably never considered.
Step 4: Plan your route.
Do your research. You might not need a passport, but you do need to make sure you have all the right qualifications. Are there any certifications you need to qualify for a new position? Do you have the right type of experience? Is there anything you can do to make yourself more competitive?
Step 5: Build a network.
Making connections is a great way to get the help you need along the way. Talk to the nurses you know to see if they have connections in the specialty where you’re planning to go.
Don’t be shy – reach out to leaders and managers, too. These are the people who can help you get where you want to go, and you never know when you’ll be able to help someone in return.
Step 6: Pack your bags.
When you know where you’re going and have a plan for how to get there, it’s time to get together everything you need to head out on your new adventure. Update your resume, apply for positions, and let the people in your network know that you’ve packed your bags and are ready to hit the road.
You never know what doors will open for you- some you may not have thought possible.
Don’t Let Bumps in the Road Slow You Down
A flat tire, a wrong turn, a lengthy detour: you’re bound to hit some obstacles along the way. Follow your roadmap to move forward and, eventually, you’ll reach your destination.