Top 4 Most In-Demand Travel Nurse Specialties

There is a growing demand for nurses that can lead to countless opportunities in a variety of fields. Travel nurses have a great advantage to gain new and useful experiences and to see the country—and even the world! If you’re interested in a travel nursing career, knowing which specialties are in demand can help you decide which direction to follow. To help get you started, here are the four most in-demand travel nurse specialties.

Top Travel Nurse Specialties

1. Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

ICU nursing is one of the most well-respected travel nurse specialties in the healthcare industry.  ICU nurses have to be confident and knowledgeable to work through conditions that are always changing. They are responsible for life-threatening situations, such as patients who have experienced significant surgeries, car accidents, trauma, or organ failure. They also manage day-to-day tasks like patients’ medication or their ventilatory support. 

All ICU nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN, become licensed in their state (or receive a compact license), and obtain at least one year of clinical experience. To travel, you will need your BLS/CPR certification, ACLS certification, and it is highly recommended to become critical care registered nurse (CCRN) to work in different ICU units. 

2. Emergency Room (ER)

ER nursing is a travel nurse specialty that’s more and more in demand all the time, and it requires nurses who are quick on their feet. These nurses will encounter patients who could be in critical condition and have life-threatening injuries. If you thrive in a fast-paced and high-energy environment, then this is the specialty for you. 

Most ER travel nurses need one year of experience and certifications in BLS, ACLS, PALS, and NIH Stroke. To give yourself an extra edge, you can receive additional training like crisis prevention or enroll in a course to be a certified emergency nurse.

3. Operating Room (OR)

OR nursing is not only in high demand, it’s also one of the highest-paying travel nurse specialties. These nurses play a key role in patient advocacy and safety. An OR nurse must be confident in their ability to speak up when needed for patient safety issues or ethics. There are three types of OR nurses:

  • Circulator Nurse: oversees patient care before, during, and after a procedure within their assigned OR suite. They are responsible for setting up the room, interviewing the patient, assisting the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and monitoring and documenting the surgical case.
  • Scrub Nurse: helps the surgeon during the procedure. During an operation, they assist with passing instruments, closing wounds, and maintaining sharps and gauze counts.
  • RN First Assistant: assists during surgery (under the supervision of a surgeon). They make incisions, suture layers of the surgical wound, and so on.

To become an OR nurse you must earn an ADN or BSN, get an RN license in the state you will work in, have clinical and OR experience, and have your BLS and ACLS certifications. Credentials including CSSM and CRNFA can strengthen your career and potentially help you secure higher pay within this travel nurse speciality.

4. Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care (NICU and PICU)

Women’s health nurses work with the youngest patients and play a critical role in their lives. This travel nurse speciality focuses on NICU nurses and caring for newborns born prematurely or with life-threatening issues. Those in PICU units work with children and adolescents with serious or life-threatening conditions. Nurses in both units have to exhibit empathy and calmness as they will primarily deal with mothers, fathers, and their children. 

The qualifications needed to become a women’s health travel nurse is clinical experience, an ADN or BSN degree, NCLEX-RN, PEDS training, and the PALS certification.

5. Medical-Surgical

Med surge nursing is the top travel nurse speciality in the nation. Med surge nursing is shorthand for medical-surgical nursing. Med surge nurses provide critical care to patients who are recovering from surgery or who are dealing with a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment. They may work in a hospital setting, a long-term care facility, or a clinic.

No matter where they’re stationed, med surge nurses always have their hands full. They’re responsible for monitoring patients’ vital signs, administering medication, and providing emotional support. They also work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals to develop care plans for their patients.

The need for travel nurses is on the rise, and the opportunities you have to gain from the travel nursing experience have never been greater. Travel nurse specialties are far and wide. Whether you’re looking for higher pay or a chance to explore new locations, a travel nurse career could be just right for you. Take a look at our job board for travel nurse jobs in our top travel nurse locations or reach out to our travel nurse agency for a helping hand!

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