The demand for nurses continues to increase across all areas of healthcare. Nurses with professional expertise in more than one area of care have more options to branch out, especially when it comes to traveling nurses.
Travel nursing compels nurses to be at their professional best. It also provides nurses with the unique opportunity to travel to areas of the world they might not otherwise experience and network with medical professionals from various backgrounds and experience levels.
Travel nursing requires adaptability, a deep well of nursing knowledge, and an eagerness to continuously learn. Nurses with multiple specialties generally enjoy a greater degree of access to travel assignments than their more limited counterparts.
If you are considering adding to your nursing specialties or changing your specialty entirely, here is a guide to help you get started:
Start With a Self-Assessment
Take stock of your nursing strengths and weaknesses. Determine areas in which you would like to improve and consider facets of nursing that perhaps you hadn’t before, in the context of the strongest skill sets.
For example, if you learn fast, are quick on your feet, and have been highly responsive as a floor nurse, then as a travel nurse, you might try your hand at an emergency room assignment. If you enjoy working in pediatrics, you may have a knack for nursing vulnerable patients and might excel in geriatrics as well.
Consider areas that correlate with travel nursing needs and your personal interests. For example, if you have an interest in challenging nursing assignments, then consider cultivating a specialty in intensive care. There is an ongoing demand for travel nurses, so switching to this specialty would pique your interest and increase your chances for frequent placements.
Do Some Research On Different Nursing Specialties
Switching specialties for travel nurses may require little more than brushing up on institutional knowledge or shadowing another nurse to learn policies and procedures for a few days. Other changes in specialties require an advanced degree or an entirely new set of certifications.
Choose a few areas of travel nursing that you are eager to explore and research their qualifications. If you do need to go back to school or obtain another certification, opt for a specialty that is a bit less rigorous to explore while you get the appropriate credentials for your desired option.
Also, peruse job descriptions for your chosen specialties to get a good idea of what may be expected of you in the field. Before you expend the effort to make the switch or take the step of shadowing a fellow nurse for a few days, it is important to ensure that the specialty you are pursuing aligns with your professional goals and skills.
While you are laying the groundwork to get the proper educational credentials or waiting for the perfect travel assignment to open up, start networking. Connect with other nurses that are already working in the specialty to which you are making your move.
Ask questions, glean pertinent advice, and soak up as much information as you can. Nurses working in the field can help you prepare to make the switch as seamlessly as possible.
If you know other nurses who have gone through the process of changing their specialties, ask them about any pitfalls they may have encountered in the process. For a more comprehensive understanding of this process, ask nurses with stationary positions in your local medical facilities as well as other travel nurses.
Plan Ahead To Change Your Nursing Specialty
It is important to be fully prepared before you make the leap to a new nursing specialty. Plan for your transition and time it to ensure you have had enough time to get the proper certifications and educational credentials (if they are needed).
You also want to ensure you have learned enough about your new specialty to feel comfortable caring for patients immediately. You may be excited, but don’t rush the process.
Limit Your Specialties
One of the reasons becoming a multi-specialty nurse is so exciting is because your value increases as a nurse and you become more engaged in learning about your professional all over again.
Professional enthusiasm is a desirable trait, especially for a travel nurse. However, don’t overextend yourself or you risk compromising future patient care. Choose just one or two new specialties to which to expand at a time.
Before you move on to another trait, make sure you have a professional level of expertise to offer the highest quality of care to patients on each assignment. Once you’ve mastered your new specialty, then you can consider learning another.
Prepare Your Professional Materials
A switch to a new nursing specialty means updating your resume with the care qualifications that most match your chosen area and brainstorm possible interview questions about the switch.
If you have already established a relationship with a travel nursing agency, be prepared to demonstrate your competence in this new area and provide any necessary proof of your qualifications. Most agencies will not provide you with an assignment in your new area of expertise if they are not sure of your ability to make the switch.
Alert Your Travel Nursing Agency To The Switch
Reach out to the travel nursing agency from which you receive assignments and let them know you have added a new specialty to your resume. Ask for any nearby assignments they might have to allow you to get your feet wet before traveling on a far-flung assignment for your new specialty.
The benefit of taking a local assignment in your new specialty first is that you have your community-based support network of colleagues on which to fall back if you have questions or concerns about the switch.