This article was provided by CareerStaff Unlimited.
Spring is a time of change and renewal. In any year, the warmer weather is a welcome change from the dark winter months that came before. And this year, spring is especially anticipated as we emerge from a tough winter.
Like many other nurses, you may wish to embrace this spirit of change by shifting your career to a new specialty or setting. After all, what better way to renew your love of nursing than by taking on a new challenge — one that’s better suited to your skills and preferences?
The fact is, nurses, make career adjustments all the time as they pursue new and better opportunities and attempt to improve their prospects. It could be a matter of moving from the intensity of a hospital ICU to delivering general patient care in a skilled nursing facility. Or, it could involve shifting to a different facility type — like from a clinic to an LTAC facility.
For travel nurses, there’s even more value in working in new settings. The pandemic has caused a huge rise in the use and recognition of full-time travel nurses. On the other hand, this higher profile is likely to inspire many new nurses to start traveling. As the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) continues to expand, the number of nurses traveling to other states for assignments will only continue to grow.
While that’s mostly good news, it could also mean more competition for existing travel nurses. And that’s all the more reason to consider expanding your specialty or facility experience. Before you consider making that kind of change, below are a few questions you should ask yourself.
4 questions to ask yourself before changing your nursing specialty
1. What’s your motivation?
First, it’s important to nail down what you’re looking for in a career change. Are you seeking a new experience or a chance to work with patients at different stages of the care continuum? Are you feeling burned out in your current role, dissatisfied with your environment, or have you reached a level you can’t advance beyond? Maybe you want to move from a big city to a small town?
There are a number of possibilities here. But if you feel like what you’re really looking for is an escape from your existing situation, then you may want to consider a short-term travel assignment (most are about 13 weeks). That way, you’ll have a chance to sample a new career path before committing to a huge life change that you may not necessarily be ready for.
2. How does the change line up with your personal situation?
If you do have your heart set on an entirely new type of specialty, there are some serious personal factors to consider. For example, how will the salary of the new specialty affect your personal finances — both today and in terms of future goals like retirement or homeownership?
Will you need new certifications for your new job? Will you need to go back to school? In most instances, this probably won’t be necessary. However, if you’re looking to shift to an advanced practice position like a nurse practitioner or certified nurse anesthetist, then you’ll want to factor in the time and cost of heading back to school.
3. Are you up for the challenge?
Some of the nursing specialties that have become in demand due to the pandemic (especially post-acute care) are, by their very nature, intense and stressful. In addition to the physical endurance required, do you have the personality type to manage that type of lifestyle? Will you need to take a step backward in your career path to get the basic entry-level experience you need to land a job — and if so, are you prepared to do that?
Do your research — ask other nurses you work with, or do some networking on social media. (Or browse the huge, highly informative archive at the Gypsy Nurse Blog.) Other nurses will be happy to tell you what it takes to succeed in a given specialty. At that point, it’s up to you to be honest with yourself as to whether you’re really ready for that kind of change.
4. Do you know how to find a job in your new specialty?
The chances are that if you have your sights set on a new specialty, you have a pretty good idea of where you’d like that job to be. If not, it’s easy to check — nursing job companies offer regularly updated job listings that can show you what’s available at any given time and in any given location.
If you’re seeking to refresh your nursing career, CareerStaff Unlimited has various opportunities across the United States. Visit CareerStaff.com to learn more or to see what nursing jobs we have available right now.