By February 15, 2012 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Which Specialty Should I Choose?

Choosing your Travel Nurse Specialty

Which travel nurse specialty do you choose?

Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

Hello, I am a new RN grad and am in the middle of interviews with various areas of the hospital. I am wondering what type of area of nursing is beneficial to gain experience in before pursuing a career as a travel nurse? For example, would an ortho floor be adequate? Thank you for the help.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

A logical first question might be, “What interests you?”. Many specialties are represented in travel nursing. If you want to narrow it to the most basic, nearly every hospital will have four units: ICU, med-surg, tele, and ER. These are the most general areas in which to train and  any of them would serve you well. Might you find a position on an ortho floor in the location you wish to travel? Certainly, but while you might find one position on an ortho floor, you might find five in general med-surg units.

Will the aforementioned units are the most general and often the easiest bets, you will also find many listings for OB, L&D, OR, and PACU. Just watch out and not get too specific. If you worked on a pediatric unit specializing in kidney transplants, you must think about how many facilities there are in the US with such a specialized unit?

Pediatrics will be represented in any major city, but you also have to remember that some cities will have specialty “Children’s Hospitals” and if they are not hiring travelers, you might be out of luck in that location. So if you could go either way, working with children versus adults, I would stick with adults.

Many travel companies will still take you with one year of hospital based experience, but many facilities want more experience, so whatever additional experience you can gain before travel, jump on it.

Also, make sure you want to travel in your specialty for the long haul. Dont expect to travel a few years in tele and then transition to ICU. To do so would most likely involve stopping your travels, hiring on to a hospital that would take the time to train you as an ICU nurse, gain a year of experience, and then begin your travels again. If you aspire to a higher level of care, like ICU, NICU, or PICU, then work toward that BEFORE you start to travel.

I hope this helps focus your specialty choice for future travels.





About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies.

I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today.

I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

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