By March 24, 2010 2 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: How can I find a travel nursing job in my specialty?


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 dem and 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.


I can certainly underst and 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 dem and 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 dem and . 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 dem and specialty might never see any lag time between assignments.

If you do decide to travel in a specialty that seems to be “low dem and ”, 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.

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.

2 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: How can I find a travel nursing job in my specialty?"

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  1. Heather


    Thanks for sharing! Could you offer any direction as far as which areas of travel nursing are in high demand? Both domestic and abroad? Also, how do nurses schedules typically run? (12 hr shift/3 days/wk?)

  2. Heather


    Also, if you could offer up any feedback on nursing schools/programs? It seems no matter where you go, there is a waitlist. What’s your take on online programs/tech schools? What would be the fastest route to an RN degree? I’m considering becoming a certified phlibotomist with a hospital who offers to pay for nursing school, in exchange working for them 2 years following graduation. I’m 29, and oh-so anxious to get things going in the travel nurse direction. Can you offer any advice? Last question, upon recieving my RN degree if I were to volunteer abroad for a number of months, would that experiance be considered as valuable (or more so) than actual hospital experience (when looking to be contracted as a travel nurse)? If possible, please reply to my direct email :

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