Does Palliative Care Limit Career Path?

by CardiacRNLA CardiacRNLA, BSN Member Nurse

Specializes in Tele/Interventional/Non-Invasive Cardiology. Has 5 years experience.

Hello all, 

I'm thinking about applying for a local NP residency for Palliative Care. However, I have heard from many others that you can get pigeonholed and job offers are few once you want to leave Palliative care. 

Is this true? Or should I apply? Honestly, I’m applying since bc it is a job opportunity that would be local. My market is super saturated. I’d love to hear your thoughts! 


djmatte, ADN, MSN, RN, NP

Has 7 years experience. 1,146 Posts

Anytime you specialize you run that risk. I started my RN career in PACU. the only way I broke out of that (besides getting my FNP) was transitioning to an acute pain nurse. ICUs didn’t want that background and the floor would require too much to relearn. 

the big question is do you want to work in that field?  Palliative care is tough, but for the right person could be rewarding. Not everyone has the chops to work there and in a field getting ever more saturated, it could be far better of an opportunity than primary care (or something similar). Nothing wrong with being pigeon holed if you like what you do and excel at it. 



Specializes in Palliative Care NP. Has 6 years experience. 2 Posts

As a current palliative care NP on an inpatient service, I would agree that it comes with its challenges. The hours are long and the patient situations are high stakes. Have you had nursing experience outside of being an NP or are you a direct entry? I think prior nursing experience will help if you plan to some day transition out of palliative care as a speciality. 

I think a lot of employers recognize and appreciate PC experience.  Really, all clinician should have at minimum primary palliative care skills. Of course, moving into a different specialty means a learning curve, but that comes with any new job regardless.

 I've interviewed myself for jobs outside of PC, mostly in geriatric practices, and I have been seen as highly desirable. In fact, I received a job offer almost immediately after interviewing for a local PACE program.

My advice is to pursue the fellowship. The learning experience will be valuable. I started in a PC position where they never hired a new grad before and believe me, it was like drinking from a fire hose. 

Hope that helps. 



731 Posts

I'm a certified hospice/palliative care NP. I am going to add my two cents' worth. For sure you should have a general education/knowledge on palliative care. Every specialty needs to know about it. Whether you want to get into specialty palliative care is another thing. If palliative care is not your passion, then I ask you, "Why are you spending your time doing a residency program?" If it's out of desperation, then in my opinion, that is not a good reason. 

I became an NP to specialize in palliative care so I purposely have pigeon-holed myself. I am more than okay to be "stuck" in this specialty. If you don't have a passion for it, then I would suggest reconsidering.