If you find yourself looking for a change in your nursing career, there's a lot to consider. Whether it’s changing your specialty, working in a different unit or facility, or moving toward a position where there is less patient contact, you owe it to yourself to consider your options so that you can be happy. After all, if you’re happy at work, not only do you feel happier in general, but your patients receive better care as well because of your zest for life.
Whatever your reasons for a change (be it better wages, more flexible working hours, yearning for a challenge, or something else), it’s not unheard of to look around and consider your options. Research has shown that nurses have a thirst for knowledge and a strong desire to grow and learn, which often translates into being motivated to make a change in their career. Like any other big change in life, having a strategy in place to explore your options and achieve your goals is beneficial in more ways than one.
Here are some strategies that could help you in the process of changing specialties:
- Self-assessment: When you know yourself, you can be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses as well as what you like and dislike, that will be able to make the transition a more successful one to navigate. Ask yourself questions that would be important for your change. For example, do you prefer a slow and methodical pace, or do you think quickly on your feet? Are you comfortable learning and using new technology? Do you prefer a lot of contact with patients, or would you prefer to have less contact? Would you be willing to interact with patients who have particular conditions, or would you prefer caring for patients with generalized conditions?
- Research: Take some time to read and learn about different specialties. Investigate the field that you’re thinking about moving toward. Read articles, talk to nurses and other healthcare professionals in the field, assess the job market in the area where you want to work, and learn everything you can about it.
- Networking: Interact with professionals who will be able to provide you with insight about the field in which you’re interested. Whether it’s in person or online, there are many people willing to share information that might be invaluable to you. Ask questions that you have about the field and the job market in general and build a list of contacts who can help you to find job leads. Look into conferences, social media groups, or attend a meeting.
- Observation: Getting some hands-on experience is the best way to get a feel for the change that you’re willing to make. Ask around about whether you’d be able to shadow a nurse in your new specialty of choice so that you can try out the new working environment and see whether the average workday is something in which you’re interested.
- Education: Many nursing specialties require a BSN for entry into the field. In other areas, an additional professional certification could make you the top contender for a particular position. A BSN can also prepare your for a leadership role or career away from the bedside. The coursework which you’d be learning would provide you with a broader perspective of healthcare policies, systems, and economics that would lead you to connect the dots between clinical nursing practice and the everyday business operations of healthcare. This could not just broaden your knowledge of the nursing profession, but also help you to pinpoint your new specialty.
If you’re serious about making a change, make sure that you’re prepared for it. Doing your due diligence with research can go a long way in helping you make the right choice. The last thing you want is to end up somewhere that you didn’t want to be, and the only way to prevent that from happening is by learning as much as possible.