This past week I received an email from a nurse that wanted to start traveling. However, her specialty was one in which you do not find many travel positions. This week I wanted to post my advice to her should any of you find yourself in the same boat.
As most of you know, if you accept a travel nursing assignment, you must have at least a year’s worth of experience in the specialty in which you wish to travel. If you are a medical-surgical nurse, don’t expect to be able to take a travel assignment based in a telemetry unit where they will train you. As a traveler, you are expected to be proficient in your field. Because of this, it is difficult to cross-train and be proficient in several areas unless you have this experience prior to starting your travel career. So, if you find you are specialized in an area that has little to offer in the way of travel assignments, you might consider gaining additional experience before traveling.
Probably the easiest way to find this out is by speaking with those who provide the assignments, the travel companies.
Even if you are still toying with the idea of traveling, call up a travel company and ask if you may speak with a recruiter. The recruiter should be able to tell you which specialties are in demand and they will also be able to pull up current listings and tell you which specialties are needed in any given area of the country. Even if you tell them you are just thinking about traveling, they should still spend the time answering your questions. After all, if you do decide to travel, they will want to earn your business.
WHAT IF I WANT TO TRAVEL NOW?
I can certainly understand the desire to want to get started, but you must consider how long you think you will want to travel. If you just take an assignment every now and then, and work per diem or registry when you are back home, then it might be okay not being in a high demand specialty. However, if you know early on that you want to make a career of it, then you might want to spend an extra year gaining experience in a specialty that is in demand. Even if you only have a month of downtime every now and then while waiting for an assignment in your specialty, over the period of a decade, it might add up to well over a year’s time. If you spent that extra year cross-training before you start traveling, a high demand specialty might never see any lag time between assignments.
If you do decide to travel in a specialty that seems to be “low demand”, make sure you are signed up with at least a few travel companies. The more assignments you are exposed to, the better the chances will be in finding something in your particular specialty.