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Journey To a New Specialty –

It may seem like a career as a Registered Nurse (RN) is full of possibilities. After all, there are so many types of medical facilities and departments where a nurse could work, such as Telemetry, ICU, L&D, LTC, or behavioral health. Yet once you become established in one specialty, you may feel like there are roadblocks standing in the way of you switching to another specialty or advancing in the field. Nonetheless, it’s definitely possible to make the transition, especially if you’re open to traveling. How can you transition from one specialty to the next as an RN traveler? Below are a few tips:

1. shadow and discuss your goals with someone in that unit; 

2. assess your own strengths and areas of development; and

3. Understand that timing and risk are inevitable, 

Below are some major considerations in pursuing a change in nursing: 

Education and Certification

Gaining certification in the new specialty could help you gain entry. By showing experience in nursing plus certification in the new specialty, you could look like a strong candidate. Keep in mind that some employers would allow you to get the certification, and sometimes even pay for it, after you started the position. So you could try going after positions before having the specific certification as long as you are open to getting it. In some states, you need to gain specific certification before beginning the new specialty. But you could still go after a job, and the employer will let you know about the specialty required and often help you get it.Also, think about the experience you have from one specialty that could transition to another.

You may not have worked in that specialty before, but you may have carried out some of the related duties within your previous specialty. Add the overlapping duties to your resume to show that you already have some of the skilled needed for the new specialty. You could gain certifications from any location if you get them online. Or you could travel to attend a certification program offered in a certain location. You may find opportunities to educate yourself in a new specialty aside from gaining certification, such as shadowing medical professionals, taking on an internship or going through on-the-job training. Being open to traveling could provide increased opportunities to make a transition.

Go After Opportunities

In many cases, it only takes the confidence and willingness to go after different jobs to get into a new specialty. Experience in a specialty is generally formed just by first getting a job in that area. So don’t assume you can’t get hired in the new specialty. Simply go after those jobs and try to form connections in that specialty. Highlight your nursing experience and your interest in switching areas. You’ll increase the opportunities open to you if you broaden the locations where you’re willing to work. Consider increasing your driving distance from home to increase the employers you could pursue. Also, consider travel nursing opportunities that take you to different areas.

There are many short-term travel nursing positions that could introduce you to a new specialty, or you could take on a long-term position. Also, consider moving to a new state or country to move into a new specialty. You might find an area with a need for experienced nurses that is more willing to excuse a lack of knowledge in the specialty. Some areas have nursing shortages and are desperate for good nurses. 

Move Into Advanced Practice

Another avenue for an RN is to progress into advanced practice. You could transition from being an RN to a nurse practitioner by entering a nurse practitioner degree program. These can take two to four years to complete or less if you already have a bachelor’s degree. Then, you would need to obtain certification in your practice specialty by taking an exam, and then you would need a nurse practitioner license. By being open to travel, you could pursue a certain school and degree program or be open to enrolling in whichever school accepted you.Other advanced practice options include clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse-midwives.

All Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) need a postgraduate degree. Depending on the situation, this could include a master’s, post-master’s or doctoral degree. They also need to pass an exam for national certification. Don’t assume that you won’t be able to move into a new nursing specialty or advanced nursing opportunity. If you’re open to new opportunities and traveling, doors can open for you in a new type of nursing. If you’re interested in make a shift in locations, specialties, or just want to know your options. contact us at

Pulse Clinical Alliance, LLC

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