August 14, 2023

Changing Specialties as a Travel Nurse

Working as a travel nurse provides an abundance of perks for your career and personal life. You build an extensive network, gain invaluable experience with various people and facilities, and explore amazing travel destinations along the way.

But you might be ready for a new challenge and want to switch your nursing specialty. Where do you start? Can it be done while you continue to travel? Who do you reach out to guide you in the process?

Changing specialties can be challenging if you want to continue to work as a travel nurse. Read on to learn more about the process and your options for changing specialties as a travel nurse. 

Consider Why You Want to Change Specialties

Figuring out why you want to change specialties may be the most important part of the process. You may have one specific reason or a combination of personal and professional reasons for wishing to change specialties. The important thing is to spend time analyzing your decision. Changing specialties is a time-consuming and career-changing decision, and you need to make sure you are changing specialties for the right reasons.

Here are some common reasons for desiring a new specialty:

  • Change in schedule
  • A desire for a new challenge
  • Expanding your nursing skills
  • Burnout from current work environment or schedule
  • A wish to switch to a high-demand specialty in the industry

male nurse

Research New Specialty Possibilities

After determining the reason you want to change specialties, you will need to figure out what your new specialty will be. This is a great time to examine what you are most passionate about in the nursing field, what patients and units you think you would enjoy working in, and your long-term career goals. Research each specialty you’re interested in and determine how it would impact your life. Consider factors like pay range, typical schedule and shifts, and the expected growth for that specialty.

You can also reach out to other nurses in your future specialty to gain insight into what working in that specialty is like. Find nurses at your current facility and invite them out for coffee or join a nurse’s group on social media to network.

Consider Your Strengths

When determining which specialty you want to switch, it’s great to take inventory of your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. Some of the things you will want to keep in mind are:

  • Do you prefer fast or slow work environments?
  • What age group do you enjoy working with the most?
  • Do you like working with a team or prefer working alone?

Determining where your current skill set will be most helpful is important, too.

Consider a Similar Specialty

Choosing to switch to a specialty similar to your current role may make changing specialties as a travel nurse easier to do. Here are some common nurse specialty transitions:

  • Med-Surg to Tele
  • Tele to PCU
  • PCU to ICU
  • PICU to ICU
  • NICU to PICU

How to Change Specialties as a Travel Nurse

Unfortunately, changing specialties as a travel nurse without going perm can be challenging. However, it’s not impossible, and a few scenarios may allow you to change your specialty while continuing to travel.

  1. Talk to your Recruitment Team: Your TNAA Recruiters and Clinical Team are the best resource for finding opportunities to switch your specialty. Share what you hope to do with them, and they can see what opportunities are available.
  2. Float: Talk to management at your current facility about the possibility of floating. You may be able to negotiate a certain number of float shifts in your desired specialty to get the training. Getting any agreements about this in writing is essential, so be sure to bring your recruiter into the conversation to help guide the process.  

Ready to embark on your next travel nurse adventure? Check out TNAA’s available travel nurse jobs and get started today!