How to Change Your Speciality as a Travel Nurse

The hardest part is over. You’ve received your RN degree, gained the necessary experience in your desired specialty, and now you’ve decided to become a travel nurse—a great choice! But after a few travel nurse assignments and some thinking, you decide you want a change. What happens next? Can you really change your specialty and still keep working as a travel nurse? 

Anything in travel nursing is possible, but it may not be a walk in the park. The nursing industry is constantly evolving, and there are now more unique nursing careers that still allow you to travel regardless of your specialty. If you’re ready to try your hand at a new travel nurse specialty, here are a few things you need to do.

4 Ways to Change Your Travel Nurse Speciality

1. Research

Research will always be a travel nurse’s best friend. Digging for information on your own and reading travel nursing journals, blogs, and articles about other specialties will help gauge your interests. Attending travel nursing career fairs and conferences can help with your research too, and ensure you talk with professionals in the field.

If you don’t personally know other travelers in the specialties you’re considering, join travel nursing communities on Facebook and other social platforms and ask the members how they like their daily roles and if they switched from another specialty. People that are experts on something usually love to talk about it. Ask for their email or phone number for future networking.

2. Take Self-Inventory

Travel nursing skills and experience vary depending on the specialty—what was optional for you may have been required for other travelers in a different area. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What skill sets do you want to improve as a travel nurse? If you’re a quick learner and highly responsive, the ER could be your new path. If you enjoy working in pediatrics, where the patients are more vulnerable, you might excel in geriatric nursing. Research combined with a self-evaluation will help you understand what kind of travel nurse you are so you can make the best decision about which specialty or environment works best for you.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Float

On your next travel nurse assignment, become a float nurse to get some real experience in your desired new specialty. Float travel nurses may be sent to several units within the same building to cover missing staff to adhere to the required patient-nurse ratios. However, you shouldn’t be asked to float to a unit where you’re unfamiliar with the basics. If the specialties overlap in some areas, like ER and OR, the transition to one or the other is a little easier. Observe all you can while floating and ask the staff what they love about their job and what they think is the most challenging.

4. Talk With Your Travel Nurse Agency

Your travel advocate is a great resource to help you navigate the process of switching your specialty. Agencies and recruiters can provide valuable information on what to expect regarding the new work itself and support you as much as you need. You should always update your travel nursing agency on your progress in successfully changing your specialty or even if you’re considering making the switch. That way, they can start researching a new travel nurse contract with your new specialty while you’re completing your current one.

Even if you spend the rest of your career in nursing, you probably won’t work in the same field or specialty the entire time. Travel nursing was designed to give you the freedom to shape your career however you want. As a travel nurse, there’s no room for “what if’s,” so don’t be afraid to try new things and expand your horizons!

If you’ve already decided what kind of traveler you want to be, head over to our job board for the latest travel nurse jobs in the top travel nurse location!

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