Advice on transferring to another unit

Nurses Career Support


I have been working on a Gero-psych unit (that's attached to a hospital) for about 8 months now. Since my first few months I have felt more comfortable working as an RN, although politics and poor management are the main reasons I want to leave the unit. The write-ups have gone down, but it's always hanging over our heads and I've noticed that on average, a staff RN stays on the unit for about 1 1/2 to 2 years, then move on to greener pastures (maybe that's why this is one of the very few places that still have sign on bonuses?)--indicating a high turnover rate. And more than half of the nurses on the unit (on any given shift) have been new grad RNs (including myself) with no background on the medical floor--which bothers me a lot because of the lack of medical experience, especially when we have patients that are of high acuity and when/if something happens it's either brushed off for the next unit to deal with and the patient goes down...

So those are the reasons of wanting to leave the unit, plus I've been wanting to get on the med/surg floor for the invaluable experience. The question is, how do I go about transferring to another unit? The med/surg/tele floor has a couple openings...

Here are my questions:

1. I read that it's best not to talk to anyone (co workers, charge nurse, DON) about leaving or transferring to another unit. Is that true? Is it better to just apply and see what happens?

2. Should I talk to my DON? (coincides with Q#1) I ask this seperately because I was told by other co workers that our DON does not like it when a nurse on her unit inquires to the DON on another unit about transferring . My DON would rather have you talk to her first and she'll (supposedly) help to transfer you to another unit. A co-worker did tell me that he spoke to her about transferring and she told him to work for a year then she'll help him transfer. Personally, I have my guard up and don't quite trust any of the unit managers, including the DON.

3. When should I transfer/work someplace else? Should I just wait to hit the one-year mark on my unit then transfer (if that will look better on a resume)?

4. What else do I need to know regarding transferring or finding another job that's more acute? I'm just afraid that because of my lack of experience on an acute floor it would be frowned upon and I would be passed up combined with the fact that I would also feel ill-prepared to work on a more acute floor!

Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

Start by reading your organization's policy on transfers. It will explain all of the variables, including how long you have to be employed in order to be eligible for transfer, responsiblities of everyone involved, paperwork you have to complete, etc. If your company does not have a defined policy, I would suggest you go talk to your HR department anyway, because there may be some criteria that is used. The bottom line is - your facility would rather retain you because of the investment that they have already made in your training & employment... they'd rather you transfer than quit.

Be upfront with everyone involved. Make sure your current manager knows what you are doing. It's good practice never to burn any bridges because you never know what the future holds.

Good luck - hope it works out well for you.

You're right-- I don't want to burn any bridges especially with nursing really being such a small world.

Thank you for the information! I'll be looking into it.

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