Looking to leave the NICU

  1. Can anyone offer some suggestions for getting a job in an area outside of the NICU? I have 5 years level 3&4 NICU experience and I am interested in changing specialties; particularly PACU or OR, but also open to some other possibilities. I'm sure others have heard, as I have, that Nursing is such a great career because there are so many different areas and it is easy to try different ones to find your niche. However, I have not found this to be the case. Most positions require previous experience in that particular specialty. I have been applying to positions for two years and my application is almost immediately updated to "no longer being considered". It feels like the catch 22 of being a new grad again: how do you get the job with no experience and how do you get experience when no one will consider you. Thoughts?
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    About sfk26

    Joined: Apr '13; Posts: 3


  3. by   adventure_rn
    Do you have any children's hospitals in your area? You may have an easier time breaking into a 'peds PACU' or 'peds OR' since you technically have experience in pediatrics. With that experience, it would be much easier to transition to adult OR/PACU if you wanted to.

    What types of units are you applying to? Is it only PACU and OR, or have you tried adult ICU, step-down, and med-surg as well? I don't have any experience in those fields, but from reading the AN forums it seems that OR and PACU are both notoriously hard to break into (much like NICU). PACU in particular seems to require several years of adult ICU experience (the AN contributors are always recommending that new grads never start in PACU for that reason). You may benefit from browsing through their forums as well, if you haven't already.

    It may actually be a good idea to think of yourself as a new grad in that sense, and consider 'how would I get to my dream job as a new grad?' If you were a new grad trying to get into PACU, you'd first have to get an adult ICU job, which might first require you to start in med-surg or step-down to break into the ICU (however, you could have an advantage with your NICU experience). Perhaps you could even consider transitioning via the PICU; you'd likely have an easier time being hired to PICU with NICU background, and your PICU experience would be more relevant to adult jobs (since you'd be caring for teenagers).

    Finally, I'd just keep on applying and cast a wide net. Unit hiring is so highly dependent on the current unit staffing. Here's an example: on my last NICU, we went through a year-long period where we were grossly understaffed and went on a huge hiring spree in which we'd hire anybody with an RN license and a pulse. The next year, we were way overstaffed and went on a year-long hiring freeze in which we wouldn't even consider experienced NICU nurses. Our overstaffing led to many mandatory low census days and we had a mass exodus, at which point we were understaffed again, and back on a huge hiring spree. The same person could have been rejected when we were overstaffed, but quickly been hired when we were short-staffed 6 months later. You never know what's going on with staffing, and when your luck may change.