Need advice on how to get into a specialty area..

Nurses General Nursing


I have have been a Med/Surg nurse for 3 years. I would love to get into a specialty area such as ICU, CCU or L&D. I have just moved to a new area and applied at 3 hospitals so far, specifically stating this on my resume' and cover letter. I want to advance and learn a new skill. So far 2 of the hospitals have the positions available but they want RN's that allready have experience in those areas. However I have been places and seen New Grads go straight into these specialties.- some of them hadn't even taken their boards yet. :confused:

Any body have any ideas ? Know of any CCU independent study courses I can take ? While I wait for some Nurse Manager/ Recruiter to realize that it's time to teach those of us out here that are ready to learn new skills.


102 Posts

I wish I gad some really great advice to give you, but sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. A lot of nurses break into a new area when a hospital is really hurting for nurses in that area. I broke into L&D when a hospital near me opened a new hospital, and a lot of the nurses left to go to the new hospital. They were willing to train nurses to a new specialty because they were desparate. I haven't worked ICU or CCU, so I don't have any tricks for those areas, but if you want L&D, you might try looking for positions in the area around L&D that look for new staff more frequently, such as NICU or post-partum. Then often you'll get cross-trained to L&D, even though you weren't hired in specifically for L&D. But you usually have to show an interest, because many of my NICU friends DO NOT like L&D, and wouldn't work it if it was the last nursing job available. Seems to be a common thing in NICU nurses. They just like their sick babies, and not their screaming Moms! Hope maybe I said something of use for you! Good luck!


6,620 Posts

I think independant study courses are the way to go. I got a job in L&D 3 months out of nursing school because I did all my consolidated practicums in that area and had taken extra specialty courses. I am in Canada, so I don't know what courses are available in the US. Have you tried looking at the back of a maternity nurses journal or by going to AWOHNs website?


2,099 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with ob/gyn. Hospitals don't want to have to train anyone in specialties they need, but are all too happy to take people who have been trained at other hospitals.

The buck has to stop SOMEWHERE, but it seems to stop only when a hospital gets desperate enough, for long enough, to break down and train the people it needs (which it should have been doing all along, IMHO.) If you happen to show up at that time, eager to be trained, they are interested in you.

The cover letter and resume seem like a good idea, and I also would try to get in touch, frequently, with nursing supervisors of the units where you are interested in training. They are usually aware of their shortages and needs, and if they have you in mind as "that nice person who calls to meet me for coffee every few weeks" and/or "that nice person who remembers to send me a birthday/Xmas/etc. card and seems so interested in working here" they may well try to make a training opportunity occur that might not otherwise have existed.

And, since you will have been reading textbooks in that specialty, you'll be able to impress everyone there with your interest and knowledge.

Good luck.

Specializes in ICU, nutrition.

Also, check out different areas of the country. You may decide you want to move to a bigger/different city for a year or two to get a job in the specialty of your choice. For instance, several of my friends that I graduated with went to Austin, TX because the hospitals there were offering nurse internships in the specialty areas they were interested in. Only recently have the hospitals where I live have started hiring new grads into ICU, but other cities have been doing it for years. So you might have to relocate for the time being.


1 Article; 2,394 Posts

Specializes in Everything except surgery.

I'm online on a regular basis, and I see ads all the time for new grads and other with no experience, where hospitals and willing to train them. In fact I have a new grad friend here who was paid big bucks for relocation, bonus, housing, and sent to a critical care course in PHX fully paid by the hospital. You just have to look around more closely, and I'm sure you will find the same.

Like another poster said....keep in contact with the nurse managers, as a friend of mine was also able to tranfer out of one dept, after having worked as an edoscopy nurse. She haven't been in an ICU in about 12 years, but was able to land a job in that unit by just talking to the nurse manager constantly. It took her about 6 mos before she finally got the job.


167 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Emergency, Infusion.

Our ICU will hire new grads only if they worked there as nursing students.

I also worked on a med/surg floor as a new grad and wanted to go to ICU. I floated to ICU as a helper (they were a closed unit) whenever I could. I got my ACLS certification and responded to as many codes as I could. Finally after nine months, I was hired into ICU.

Be persistent and try to keep in touch with the ICU manager. Let him/her know your are interested and ask what he/she would recommend you do.

Good luck!



177 Posts

Some hospitals offer critical care internship programs. They will teach you what you need to know and pay while you are learning. Most require a work commitment after you complete the program, usually 18 months. I got into critical care as an RN because I was a critical care secretary first. It was an easy transition.

BadBird, BSN, RN

1,126 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

Look into some continuing education courses at a local community college, many will teach critical care courses. Once you have your certification many employers will be willing to give you the clinical experience with a good orientation. Good luck

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