Changing Specialties as a Travel Nurse

Changing Specialties as a Travel Nurse

It has been said the only thing in life that never changes is the fact that things change. Therefore it’s quite natural to wonder about the nature of the grass on the other side of the proverbial fence from time to time. One of the many benefits of being a travel nurse is the potential for a wide variety of experiences in a broad array of differing circumstances. Thus, while changing specialties as a travel nurse can be a bit of a challenge, it can be done.

Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Consider The “Why” First

Coming to an understanding of why you want to try something different is key to your success in this regard. Changing specialties can be an involved undertaking. Knowing precisely why you’re doing it can help buoy you along if the process becomes taxing.

Among the reasons others have cited for considering this are a thirst for new challenges, an interest in broadening their skills and a desire to move into an area that’s more in demand. Of course, your “why” may be completely different. Whatever it is, though, it’s important to get clear on it before beginning the process.

Conduct Careful Research

You’re about to make a rather significant investment of time and money. Rather than jumping in blindly, take some time to carefully decide what you want as your new specialty.

Where do your passions lie?  What kinds of patients do you want to serve?

Perhaps there’s a particular type of unit in which you want to work. Will the going rate of pay for the specialty you’re considering support your lifestyle? Does that matter to you? What about scheduling and shift concerns?

It’s also prudent to get a good idea of the growth potential anticipated for the specialty you’re considering.

Recognize Your Strengths

While researching your new specialty, make every effort to consider your personal strengths. Yes, it is entirely possible to transition into an area in which you have no proficiency and do quite well. However, shifts of this nature tend go more easily when you take your strengths into consideration.

Are you someone who thrives under pressure? Are you more effective as part of a team, or do your prefer working alone? Is there a particular age group of patients you prefer?  What is your current skill set? How well will it translate to the specialty you’re contemplating?

Consider a Lateral Move

Going into a specialty with similarities to your current one can make the switch easier to accomplish. 

Some travel nurse jobs to think about in this regard include:

  • Med-Surg to Tele
  • Tele to PCU
  • PCU to ICU
  • PICU to ICU
  • NICU to PICU

Take a Float Assignment

Working as a float nurse will give you an opportunity to see what different specialties entail firsthand. You can experience several different units within a facility with a float assignment. That said, don’t ask to cover an area in which you’re ungrounded. Overlapping specialties are best observed using this method.

Consult Your Agency

One of the best resources to tap when you consider changing travel nurse specialties is your recruiter. They can provide you with insights as to what the specialty you’re considering will require of you. This also lets them know to start looking for placement opportunities for you while you’re completing the background work you’ll need to be competent in your new specialty.

Make A Wise Choice with Wanderly

We understand that changing specialty as a travel nurse can be challenging, as well as looking for travel nurse jobs. Let Wanderly be your guide to make a smart choice and get the best travel nurse assignments.

We at Wanderly are leveraging big data, machine learning, and blockchain technology to establish an open marketplace for the healthcare workforce sector. Using these technologies, we create an ecosystem based on facilitating meaningful connections for all parties involved. We aim to bring travel healthcare professionals and agencies together more quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are the typical responsibilities of a travel nurse?

    Travel nurses can work as generalists, providing comprehensive care across various departments, or as specialists, focusing on specific areas such as emergency room, surgery, or labor and delivery. Additionally, they perform patient assessments, administer medications, collaborate with healthcare teams, and provide patient education.
  2. Are there opportunities for professional growth as a travel nurse?

    Yes, travel nursing offers ample opportunities for professional development. Nurses can gain experience in various clinical settings, enhance skills by working with diverse patient populations, and adapt to different hospital protocols and technologies.

  3. Are travel nurses eligible for continuing education opportunities?

    Absolutely! Nurses can attend workshops, seminars, and online courses to enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest advancements in healthcare. Continuing education not only enriches nurses’ knowledge but also opens doors to more specialized and higher-paying assignments.

  4. Are travel nurses responsible for obtaining state licenses in each location they work?

    Travel nurses need to have a registered nurse (RN) license, but they may require additional licensure in the state where they work. Many states are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), allowing nurses with a multi-state license to practice in other compact states. Your travel nursing agency typically assists with the licensure process.

  5. What is the difference between a travel nurse and a per diem nurse?

    While travel nurses work temporary assignments in various locations, per diem nurses work on an as-needed basis within a specific facility. Per diem nurses often have more flexibility in choosing shifts and schedules. In contrast, travel nurses commit to longer-term assignments in different regions.