Have you ever considered changing travel nurse specialties? If you have, you are not alone. COVID has made us all adapt in ways we never dreamed. From how we travel or communicate with loved ones to thinking about our careers. Many nurses have been inspired to continue giving back. We’ve had staff nurses move to travel so they can serve in hard-hit areas of the country like New York City at the height of the pandemic, or move to a new specialty to serve where they are most needed. Before you make the change, consider the following:
What are your strengths? As a travel nurse, there are different skills that are needed, and some required, that may be different from what you experience as a staff nurse or even a traveler. If you like to stay busy and are fast on your feet as a Med/Surg or Tele nurse, then maybe the emergency room would be great for you. If you enjoy working with the older population, you may also have the patience to work with younger patients in the NICU or PICU. When it comes to changing your nursing specialty, it is important to think about your strengths and where they can be translated into a different area.
What specialties are you considering? Research areas in which you are interested to see how your skills, experience, and certifications would transfer. While you may want to move to a particular area, it may require additional credentialing that could take more time than you desire while another may require minimal re-education and training. The Johnson & Johnson Discover Nursing site is a great resource to learn about more than 100 different nursing specialties. Reviewing job postings and job descriptions will also help you decide where – or if – you will want to move to a new specialty.
What experience is needed to switch? Most positions require that you have experience in an area before becoming a traveler in that specialty. That may mean remaining a staff nurse in order to gain that experience. If you’re looking to become a traveler sooner rather than later, you may need to stick to where you already have the experience.
Have you talked to your Recruiter? Before changing travel nurse specialties, talk to your Recruiter and ask questions about hours, day-to-day tasks, type of patients, and skill requirements. It is rare, but you may find you can build your resume with skills that translate to the desired position while in your current contract.
Who do you know? The four words you need in a job search are – who do you know? What we really mean is, network with travel nurses who are working in the specialty you desire. Asking questions and learning more about their experience is a great way to learn whether or not it is right for you. You may learn that working with geriatric patients can be rewarding because they offer their stories and experiences or that your original excitement for ICU goes away when you think about dealing with trauma patients and death. It’s worth a few conversations to figure it out.
Have you told your Agency? In the process of exploring options with your Recruiter, be sure to update your information and let them know you’re open to opportunities in the top nursing specialties. That way they can be researching a new contract for you while you’re completing your current one.
As a travel nurse, you will likely find the opportunity to move within your contracted facility challenging. This is because they’ve hired you for a certain job, to fulfill a need they had at the time they hired you. While talking to your manager may be a good idea if you have a good relationship with them, it may be better to talk to your Recruiter. They will know more about upcoming contracts at the facility and/or needs in area hospitals that would fit your desire to change specialties.