Is Switching Specialties as a Nurse Right for You?

With a plethora of nursing specialties to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down which is the right one for you. Nursing school may expose you to a handful of different specialties, but often, it offers just a sampling that barely scratches the surface. How does one know exactly what the right specialty is with just that under their belt?

There are those fortunate few that fall right into their dream nursing position. However, many others will have to try on a few different options before finding the right fit. Ultimately, finding the right specialty for you and deciding to make the switch is a journey and really a big decision to make.

Why Consider the Switch?

There are plenty of reasons why you may be considering making a switch to a different nursing specialty. For one, different specialties may offer a higher wage, providing the type of financial stability you’re looking for.

Another reason you might consider switching nursing specialties is you simply want a change of pace. Maybe you’ve decided that the hustle of the hospital isn’t for you anymore and you’re looking for a quieter setting to grow your career. Perhaps you’re even enticed by the potential to work remotely by becoming a telehealth or primary care nurse. If you really aren’t sure what setting you like, maybe you’ll consider travel nursing and garner opportunities to work in different hospital settings all over the country.

 It could also be the right time to switch specialties is if you are starting to feel burned out in your current position. If you no longer feel passionate about the work you do and start to dread workdays, it is worth considering what a different specialty has to offer. Making the switch in this scenario can reinvigorate your drive to help people and provide you with an interesting new way of doing so.

Assessing What You Want

Once you’ve decided that you’re going to switch specialties, the next step is deciding what specialty you want to make your move to. You might know exactly where you want to land next, but if you don’t there are a few questions you should be asking yourself to narrow it down.

The first is which type of patients you want to work with. You might be considering focusing your career on children rather than adults for instance. If so, it is important to evaluate what that switch would look like. Kids can be more physically and emotionally demanding to work with but they can also be very rewarding.

Likewise, you should ask yourself if you want to work in a hospital setting. Assessing if the hospital is right for you will eliminate several potential specialties right off the bat. To narrow it down even further, consider if you’re up for fast-paced, high-risk work. If the answer is yes, maybe something like the ER, ICU, or cardiac unit might be the right place for you.

Another question to ask yourself is whether you are willing to go back to school. Additional schooling can open a lot of different doors. Some specialties will require additional certifications, while others won’t. Higher education positions may also offer more autonomy or a higher wage, which should both also factor into your decisions.

Personal Life Considerations

Answering all of these questions about what you want can help you to make the decision about where the next step in your career will ultimately take you. For some, it might be an easy transfer to a different unit within the current hospital. For others, it might involve applying for different jobs altogether. Still, for others, it might involve a move to a new town or state with a hospital specializing in the care you hope to give.

Moving can pose several challenges for some nurses. For instance, some states may be easier to move to and maintain certifications than others. Many states have inter-state agreements that allow registered nurses to transfer from hospital to hospital while maintaining their licenses, but other certifications may not always transfer so easily. It is imperative to look into the policies of any state you’re planning on moving to before fully committing.

Depending on your schedule and your income level, it may also be challenging to qualify for mortgages within certain specialties. For example, many travel nurses have trouble qualifying, as many loans require you to stay employed at the same hospital for a certain period of time. Before taking the plunge into a new specialty, it is important to research how the change could affect your personal and financial goals.  .


Making the move into a new nursing specialty may be the most rewarding career decision you make. Before taking the jump, be sure to evaluate the reasons you are considering the switch and the factors that will contribute to exactly where you want to land.

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.   
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.