A Breakdown of Travel Nursing by Specialty
Whether you’re deciding to start your travel nurse journey or thinking of changing specialties, it’s important to know what the job field looks like. We’ve crunched the numbers (manually!) to give nurses an opportunity to see how our diverse nurse population is spread across multiple specialties and regions.
Visualizing Travel Nursing Jobs
Not pictured — Psych, Case Management, Radiology, Endo, Dialysis & Oncology which compromise roughly 10-14% of available jobs as of January 2020. Note that job availability also fluctuates seasonally.
Med Surg Travel Nurses
Med-Surg nurses make up the largest nursing specialty in the workforce. Nurses in this unit provide the foundation of nursing care and are likely to experience just about anything on their shift, from starting a foley catheter to treating a patient with severe asthma. Most facilities look for Med Surg travel nurses with at least one year of experience.
Telemetry, Step-down, PCU Travel Nurses
Nurses in this unit provide care intermediate, transitional care for patients moving from ICU to the general nursing floor. Their patients are those who are not quite ill enough for ICU but still too sick for Med-Surg. These nurses are quick thinkers who can intervene and react with confidence. Most facilities look for telemetry travel nurses with at least one year of experience.
ICU Travel Nurses
Nurses in the ICU care for critically ill patients. ICU nurses must be flexible and ready to tackle anything as their patients’ status can change quickly. Most facilities require ICU travel nurses to have at least one year of experience, BLS, and ACLS certifications to be considered.
PICU Travel Nurses
Nurses in this unit provide care for children and adolescents with life-threatening or conditions that require constant monitoring. They may also be post-surgical. PICU nurses are faced with the unique challenge of caring for children: this can be rewarding, traumatic, and emotional. Most facilities require PICU travel nurses with at least one year of experience working as a PICU nurse.
PACU Travel Nurses
This nurse works to provide direct care to patients who are waking up from anesthesia ensuring patient safety and comfort. Most facilities look for PACU travel nurses with at least one year of experience working in the PACU.
NICU Travel Nurses
Neonatal nursing refers to the care of infants in their first 28 days of life. Not only does the NICU nurse provide care for critically-ill newborns, but this nurse is also part of an interdisciplinary team that must also work with the family unit as a whole. Most facilities require NICU travel nurses to have their BLS, PALS, and at least one year of experience working in the NICU.
L&D — Labor & Delivery Travel Nurses
Labor and Delivery nurses work with pregnant women and provide care to them through the delivery process. This nurse ensures the health and comfort of their patient as they give birth. Most facilities require L&D travel nurses to have at least three years of experience.
Oncology Travel Nurses
Oncology nurses assist with the treatment and care of patients who have cancer. These nurses work with patients who are undergoing many different types of cancer treatments and must be educated on the unique drugs and treatment methods. Most facilities require oncology travel nurses to have at least one year of experience in this specialty.
OR Travel Nurses
Operating room nurses are responsible for so much. They work to ensure the surgeon can do their job. This includes: coordinating all aspects of patient care, scrub ins, maintaining supplies, assisting the anesthesiologist, and so much more. These nurses hold BLS, ACLS, PALS, and more specialty certifications. To travel as an OR nurse, most facilities require operating room travel nurses to have 2 years of experience in the operating room. Scrub techs will need 2 years with NBSTA.
“I LOVE surgery!! I started out as a scrub tech then went back to get my nursing degree! I’ve been in the OR for 31 years and love to teach my craft to newbies and watch their faces light up as they gain their confidence.” — Tina, TNAA Ambassador
ER Travel Nurses
As one of the most interesting departments in a medical facility, nurses who work in the emergency room must be prepared for everything in order to treat such a diverse patient population group. ER nurses must triage, assess, treat, educate, and discharge patients. Besides having a cool, calm demeanor, ER nurses are required to have BLS, ACLS, NIH Stroke Certifications and so many more. Continuing education is constant. Most facilities hire emergency room travel nurses with at least one year of experience in this specialty.
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It’s not the most wonderful time of the year. I hope you’re listening to the cries of grief and despair in people that surround you this holiday season. You see, I receive daily reminders of the brevity of life entangled in the sweet, everlasting impact people have on one another. Although this season is full of bright lights, choirs, and enough manufactured cheer to fuel a small country, it’s also a stark reminder to so many of the one thing they are missing that no amount of twinkle lights or holiday nog will replace. To them, they have no silent nights because the ache of their loss rings louder than any Mariah Carey song. . On my way to Thanksgiving last year, I sat next to a man on a plane and we bonded over the fact that we had to work on the holidays. Over the course of the next two hours, he slowly disclosed that he had signed up for every holiday for the next year because his 6 year old daughter had just died from cancer and he couldn’t imagine having to bear the pain of experiencing the holidays without her. For him, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year. . Last year on Christmas Day, I held the hand of a man as he took his few remaining breaths. It was just the two of us, his family had not made it to the hospital in time. For them, this is not the most wonderful time of the year. . A few years ago, I sat in the room as we told a 32 weeks pregnant woman, that she had progressive cancer and that she would have a C-section the next day so she could begin treatment ASAP. I don’t know the final results, but I do know that her prognosis wasn’t very favorable. For that family, I’m sure it’s not the most wonderful time of the year. . So here’s the thing. We don’t know everyone’s story. So rather than writing someone off as the Grinch, giving snarky responses as they cut you off in the grocery store, or expect them to behave in a certain way, I hope we all can quietly listen to their stories. . And to my friends out there who are quietly grieving, I see you. I’m sorry this season is so hard. I give you all the permission to healthfully grieve in your own way in the next few weeks. It’s ok not to embrace “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Psych Travel Nurses
Psych nurses work with patients who receive care for mental health conditions. This growing field works with several other healthcare professionals to implement care plans for effective outcomes. Most facilities look for psych travel nurses with at least one year of experience in this specialty.
Case Management Travel Nurses
Case Managers are the great collaborators of the medical facility. They assess, plan, facilitate, coordinate care, evaluate, and advocate for services, treatments, and options that meet a patient’s individual health needs and a family’s health needs. Think of all the interdisciplinary health care that happens in the hospital: the case manager is the patient advocate responsible for promoting cost-effective, patient-focused collaborative options. Most facilities look for case manager travel nurses with at least one year of experience in this specialty.