Is it ok to work in different specialties of nursing?

  1. I have met many nurses that have been nurses for a long time and have worked in many different specialties, from Labor and Delivery to ICU, to Community Health Nursing. It seems that these nurses are very well rounded and me being a relatively new nurse, I think it would be cool to try out different specialties as well. One of the main reason I got into nursing was because of the many different opportunities available and versatility. However nowadays it seems more and more difficult for nurses to get jobs in specialties other than what they have experience in. You always see posts for positions requesting that you have one to two years of experience in that particular specialty with the exception of med-surg. What happened to good old fashioned training? Aren't the principles of nursing able to be applied to all settings? Weren't we trained in school to work in any specialty? It seems like moving around is frowned upon. I would like to hear from nurses who have worked in many different specialties in your career. Do you feel like having different experiences made you a better nurse? If anything I would think it would at least keep things more interesting. Sure its great to develop expertise in a certain feild and I have met nurses who have been in the same fieild for 10, 20, even 30 years, and don't get me wrong, they are excellent and great to learn from....I just think its sort of boring and I couldn't imagine doing one specialty, or one job for that long.
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   UKRNinUSA
    Nursing job mobility is the solution to nursing burnout. I have worked in many different specialties over the years and have found that skills/experience gained in one job/specialty leads to opportunities in another. I agree with you -one specialty over 30 years would be BORING!!!
  4. by   GooeyRN
    I started in LTC, jumped to psych, then med/surg, then back to doing both psych and med/surg now. I plan to bounce around more in time. It keeps me from getting burned out and bored. Not bored as in "not enough work to do" b/c well there is always SOMETHING that could be done, but as in bored as in doing the same thing over and over.
  5. by   coffeentea
    I started in the Nursery and Post Partum back in the days when L&D , the Nursery and PP were three separates units on the same floor. I went to Ortho & Rehab when the hospital where I worked was combining all the units because I knew L & D was not for me. Over the years I had worked in Ortho, Rehab and Med/Surg and Tele. on the same hospital. I got so burnt out on Med/Surg that one day I told the NM that I quit without having any idea what I was going to do next. My boss reccommended that I give PACU a try, I have been working in Preop/Pacu for almost ten years now and still love it . I hope to work in Preop/Pacu until I retire .
    I also worked as an Admission nurse for awhile. I have learned so much from each and every of the nurses that I have worked with on different units.
    For the nurses out there that are beeing stressed out and thinking of quiting nursing give a different unit a try . Hopefully you will find your niche and don't dread going to work every day.
  6. by   Tweety
    I don't think that moving around is fround upon. I think alway when positions require experience it's just a supply and demand thing. Right now recruiters can look for experienced nurses in that speciality to fill jobs.

    During times when there have been shortages new grads and nurses without experience were asking for these jobs and getting them, and being trained on the job.

    Also a job might say "two years experience required" but they still hire inexperienced people if they have the right attitude and interview well. It never hurts to ask for what you want.

    I've worked several areas myself to include trauma, medical/oncology, cardiac and neuro, even a desk job in the admission-transfer center. I'm now about to go into orthopedics. The nice thing is that I've done all these things in the same hopsital.
  7. by   NurseNora
    I've worked L&D for 40 years. I retired once, missed it and came back part time. It (birth) never bores me; I get to participate in miracles every day at work. On the other hand, if you don't have a uterus, don't expect me to know how to take care of you. ("V tach? I thought it was just marked varriability so I turned him onto his left side.").

    There are wonderful nurses who can float to any unit and work. They float and help out with schedule problems. In one hospital I worked, we had SWAT nurses that went from unit to unit, only staying for 2 hours at most to help out at those times when it hit the fan and you just needed an extra set of hands until your on call person could get in or until the crunch ended. I could never do that but admire those who can.

    The wonderful thing about nursing is that there's a place for those of us who can only do one thing and for those of you who can do lots.
  8. by   colleennurse
    I agree the PP's, I do not think it is frowned upon. I have been working in community health for the past 2.5 years and I am bored, so I just took a job in ED. Very excited to start! I think part of the reason you are seeing so many jobs requiring experience right now is d/t the economy. I looked for several months before I found something I wanted and got. When I graduated almost 4 years ago, the hospitals were begging you to work for them, with availability in almost any specialty/area. One of my favorite nursing instructors said the same thing as someone above, that moving around prevent burnout. I will never forget that advice. Unless of course you find your passion!
  9. by   kimima01
    Quote from NurseNora
    On the other hand, if you don't have a uterus, don't expect me to know how to take care of you. ("V tach? I thought it was just marked varriability so I turned him onto his left side.").
  10. by   elkpark
    Some of the issue (ease of moving among specialties) may also be related to location. If you're in an urban area with a large pool of potential candidates for available nursing jobs, employers can afford to say "two years experience in the specialty required" and stick with it. That can make it v. difficult for someone to switch to a new specialty. In a smaller, less desirable facility, or in a smaller (less populated) area with fewer available nurses in general, facilities tend to be less picky.

    I know that when I first graduated and wanted to work in psych, I was in a moderate-sized urban area and it was well-known that none of the psych programs in the area would hire new grads -- they all required two years of med-surg experience before they would consider you. Through an acquaintance, I heard of an opening on a psych unit in a small community hospital in a more rural area not too far away, and they were delighted to hire me (for them, it was a good thing to get someone "fresh off the assembly line," with all the up-to-date information).

    It's a lot easier to get a job in a new specialty when there aren't a big bunch of experienced (in that specialty) nurses also competing for the position ...
    Last edit by elkpark on Jan 1, '10
  11. by   llg
    The old expression, "Jack of all trades but master of none" comes to mind. Which do you want to be -- a competent nurse in a variety of settings? ... or a great expert in one specialty? They're both OK. It's just a matter of which role suits you the best.
  12. by   PostOpPrincess
    It's doable.

    I'm one of those nurses.
  13. by   rntofnp2014
    I currently have three PRN jobs that keep me HOPPING! I work a little bit almost every day and love it. Two of the three are in the same field, sort of. I like doing lots of things and being busy. Suits me

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