Travel nursing is a great way to see the country, gain valuable experience, and to command a higher salary than traditional nursing. However, in travel nursing, the pay rate and ability to work wherever you want are both determined by your acute specialty. The more in-demand your specialty is, the higher the pay, and the more likely you can find a contract in an area you’d like to live.
Whether you’ve considered transitioning into the travel nursing game or are a seasoned travel nurse looking to shift gears, there are some huge advantages to specializing in an in-demand area.
Just remember that many facilities and agencies will want for your most recent experience to be in the same specialty as the jobs you are applying for. If you are a staff nurse, transitioning into something new is pretty easy, but if you are a traveler, you may have to start off with PRN. This allows you to work the specialty into your current schedule on a part-time basis. While there are many different paths to consider, here are 5 of the most in-demand travel nursing specialties.
Critical Care or Intensive Care nursing is a good fit for nurses with a calm disposition who are inquisitive and compassionate and not afraid to advocate for their patients. This specialty involves caring for physically unstable patients and requires a high level of attention to detail and process. There are a number of certifications available through the ASCN, but the CCRN is the certification you will need.
Operating Room nursing is not for the faint of heart (but then, no nursing job is). OR nurses fall under three categories: scrub nurse, circulating nurse, and RN first assistant. All three require different requirements, but anyone interested in this specialty must be strong problem solvers who can make critical decisions with confidence and work independently without much direction. These nurses must be team-players who pay close attention to detail because in the operating room there are no small mistakes.
Labor and Delivery nursing tends to attract nurses who see themselves as advocates for mothers and babies in a hospital setting. L&D nurses are ideally calm and compassionate communicators, as they often find themselves working with laboring women and their partners during some of the most intense moments of their lives. You will often be expected to have experience as a postpartum nurse before transitioning to L&D, and nurses with this specialty are required to be certified in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and to hold a certification in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing.
Progressive Care Unit nurses are a step down from ICU nurses but will benefit from possessing the same characteristics and qualifications as an ICU nurse. The patients under the care of PCU nurses need close observation and frequent assessment, necessitating that the nurses in these positions are observant, process-oriented, and good record-keepers. The training for PCU nurses will be the same as an ICU nurse, minus certifications in invasive technologies.
Med Surg/Tele Nursing
Medical-surgical nursing has the largest pool of nurses of any specialty because the role med-surg nurses play is so vital to the functioning of a hospital wing. Nurses in this position need to be excellent multi-taskers with encyclopedic clinical knowledge of symptoms and diseases and must be exceptionally calm under pressure. These nurses spend the most time face-to-face with patients out of anyone in the hospital, coordinating their care from the moment they arrive until after they leave. There are two certifications that may be required of a med-surg nurse: CMSRN and CCCTM.
Telemetry nurses perform numerous duties, but they primarily monitor critically ill patients with gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, diabetes, and coronary diseases. Tele nurses use various devices to monitor patients’ vital data, then they record and interpret the data to assist doctors in assessment and treatment. Tele nurses must be keen observers who can pick up on any changes in a patient’s condition. Communication skills are important because they are often charged with educating patients on home care and how to avoid relapse after recovery. There are various certifications for tele nurses, but they are not always required.
As you can see, the range of in-demand travel nursing specialties is far-reaching, and the jobs are abundant. Come take a look at the places and positions waiting for you as a travel nurse with an in-demand specialty.