Do you love the nursing specialty you’ve chosen? Is it all you expected it would be? Are you even working in the specialty area that you had hoped to be in? These are all questions nurses must ask themselves at some point.
I remember how devastated I was when I did not receive a job offer in the specialty I had hoped for upon receiving my nursing license. I thought my world had ended. I had this specialty based career all planned out since before I even entered into nursing school.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was very lucky to have been able to get a job in the specialty that was my second choice. It has become MY specialty, and now, I wouldn’t take a job in what had been my first choice for any amount of money, (well ok, I’d take a million dollars and hour, but I bet I wouldn’t be as happy)!
Most nurses don’t even get the chance to be employed in a specialty area straight out of nursing school. Most, planned for or not, will be employed on general med-surg units at the beginning of their career. Though this may be heart-wrenching for some, at first, it is probably the best experience you can ever get for your nursing career. Med-surg nursing applies to ALL areas of nursing care and will greatly elevate your skills and knowledge far beyond that of the nurses who have always only worked in one specialty area for their entire career.
But what if you’ve done your time on the med-surg unit, and still want to change to a specialty area, (and yes, med-surg is a specialty itself). Most hospitals offer the option to let you change to another unit or position after a period of time, usually 6 months, but often times, there can be a lot of red-tape, in the form of facility politics which can prevent this from happening easily. This is not across the board at all hospitals, but it does happen at many.
The problem is that at most facilities, both your present supervisor and the supervisor of the unit you wish to be transferred to must both approve the transfer. This can cause issues, especially if you are a good nurse and employee. This is because good nurses can be hard to find, (though there are many). Your present supervisor may not want you to leave and may drag her heals on the approval.
This can be unfortunate, especially if you are an exemplary employee. If after a few tries the transfer does not seem to be moving forward and you really want to change, you may need to look at another facility. This in itself can be hard, because many places so not want to place experienced nurses on units where they will have to be trained. It sometimes seems like it is even harder to get into a specialized area after you’ve been a nurse for a while, than it is straight out of school, and as I’ve said, that isn’t easy either.
So what can be done? There is a little bit of a secret that most nurses so not know. Many hospitals will have a certain time of the year when they take applications for new nurses straight out of nursing school to try to obtain a specialty position which they will train them for. It is highly competitive for these students, as most facilities will take very few new nurses at once. But, what most people don’t know is that these are also great opportunities for experienced nurses who want to change their specialty and these nurses usually have a very good chance of being hired for these positions.
So if you are looking to change your specialty and keep hitting a brick wall, check with the HR department of a few facilities to see of they offer an internship program for new nurses and when the application process begins. This may just be the next best way to get your foot in the door to the position you have always dreamed of.