Many new nursing graduates have the preconceived notion that they must choose a specialty in order for their career in travel nursing to progress. There’s nothing wrong with this line of thinking. Certainly some specialties pay more than others as you’ll discover if you research nurse salaries online. If you believe a specialty will help you land that assignment in your dream location, then more power to you.
Specialization takes time, money, and commitment so it’s only natural for many travel nurses to think about future monetary rewards. However, when it’s time for you to decide on your specialty, you may want to look beyond the eventual pay grade increase and consider other aspects of your life.
First, look at what genuinely interests you. Do you like working on the physiological, behavioral or developmental components of healthcare?
Now think about your interests in relation to your skills and talents. For instance, you might think pediatrics is a good field of study but you might not have the affinity to deal with children. Some travel nursing specialties are more in demand than others because they are more difficult. But don’t choose a specialty just because it’s in demand. Ask yourself whether you have the aptitude and the tenacity to thrive in a given specialty. Be truly honest with yourself when assessing your strengths and weaknesses.
Second, find a setting that you’re comfortable with and which appeals to you. Fast-paced settings such as the operating room, emergency room, and ICU are very stressful and require travel nurses to depend on high-technology solutions to treat patients immediately. If you can’t work well under stress and/or have a laid-back disposition you might be better suited for low-patient acuity facilities like schools and hospices.
Finally, find out what kind of education and skills are required for the specialty of your choice. You’re going to need a certification or a graduate degree for most specialized and advanced practice. You will need to acquire a ton of knowledge and put many hours of training under your belt to specialize in something. If you don’t enjoy the process of learning there’s really no point in pursuing a specialization.
Whether you’re planning to find travel nursing assignments or a permanent job at a facility, at the heart of your decision to become a nurse is the desire to help patients. You don’t need to be specialized to do this. However, know that getting a specialty will further add to your ability to help people. That said, wouldn’t it be great if travel nurses such as yourself select a specialty not based on how much they can earn but rather on what inspires them to become the best possible nurses they could be?