Feb 16, 2024 — Daniel Bowman

Which Travel Nursing Specialties Are in Demand?

list of which travel nursing specialties are in demand

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, travel nursing has become a vital solution for staffing shortages, seasonal demands, and unexpected spikes in patient care needs. As a recruiter, you have to work harder than ever to know which travel nursing specialties are in demand to ensure all your open positions get filled.

To help you with this, we have a list to provide you with valuable insights into the most sought-after travel nursing jobs. We’ll cover the reasons behind their popularity and how to navigate the constantly shifting landscape to satisfy the high demand.

Understanding the Changes in the Travel Nursing Industry

The travel nursing industry is growing at a rapid pace. Forecasts point towards an even stronger demand in the future. The rising need for flexible nursing solutions has combined with the appeal of an adventurous lifestyle. This has led to a surge in the number of healthcare professionals pursuing travel nursing opportunities.

The future looks promising for travel nurses, given the increasing reliance on their unique skill sets. Additionally, according to NurseJournal, travel nursing as a whole is projected to increase by 9% through 2030. With healthcare institutions seeking to optimize patient care while managing budgets, they are turning to travel nurses as a cost-effective and valuable resource.

Factors Influencing Demand for Travel Nursing Specialties

Several key factors contribute to the fluctuating demand for travel nursing specialties. Demographics play a significant role as the aging baby boomer population increases the need for specialized care. Geographic location also influences demand. Some regions experience more significant shortages than others.

Healthcare trends and advancements in medical technology further shape the landscape. For instance, the rise in chronic diseases might increase the need for specialists in those areas. A breakthrough in surgical methods might lead to a temporary surge in demand for related nurse specialties.

In-Demand Travel Nursing Specialties

list of which travel nursing specialties are in demand

With this in mind, we will highlight 11 travel nurse specialties that are currently in high demand. As a recruiter, you probably know all of this info already. However, it does not hurt to review the roles of each specialty so you can evaluate your hiring system.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The care of newborns who require critical medical attention can be a highly specialized and emotionally rewarding field. Hospitals aim to improve infant mortality rates and cater to complex neonatal conditions. Travel nurses with NICU experience are increasingly sought after.

NICU nurses care for the health and well-being of premature and critically ill patients. They work to provide around-the-clock care, closely monitoring the tiniest patients for any signs of distress or improvement.

These nurses administer medications and assist in life-saving procedures. They are trained to use specialized medical equipment designed for neonatal care.

Additionally, NICU nurses educate and support parents during challenging times. They guide them through the complexities of neonatal care and help to prepare them for the transition home.

Their expertise in neonatal emergencies, combined with a compassionate touch, makes them an invaluable asset to any medical team.

Labor and Delivery

With the birth rate and cesarean section rates remaining steady, demand for labor and delivery nurses remains unchanged. Travel nurses in this area are in charge of maintaining constant skilled care for mothers and newborns.

Labor and delivery travel nurses are essential in providing care and support throughout the childbirth process. They work closely with obstetricians, midwives, and families. Their responsibilities include managing the labor process through constant monitoring of contractions and fetal heart rate, administering medications, and coaching women through delivery.

These labor and delivery nurses also handle emergency interventions, provide postpartum care, and educate new parents on baby care. They are a critical factor in a safe and positive birth experience for both the mother and the new arrival in the labor and delivery process.

Labor in Delivery does differ from nurses in the NICU. These travel nurses are focused on providing critical care to newborns who are premature or have medical complexities, specifically after the delivery phase.

Medical Surgical Nurses

Medical surgical units are the heart of in-patient care. Nurses in this field are the foundation of hospital staff. Their versatility and adaptable nature make them crucial in filling gaps in routine patient care.

Medical surgical nurses, often referred to as med-surg nurses, are responsible for taking care of patients who are recovering from surgery or managing acute health conditions.

Their role is a multifaceted range of nursing activities. It includes patient assessment, administering medications, wound care, and working closely with the healthcare team to coordinate and implement patient care plans.

With their broad knowledge base, med-surg nurses are instrumental in monitoring patient progress. They also educate patients and their families on post-hospital care and prepare patients for discharge. Their expertise is pivotal in detecting complications early, ensuring patient safety, and advocating for the best patient outcomes.

Operating Room Nurses

Surgical services are a cornerstone of many healthcare facilities. Operating room nurses are essential in ensuring the smooth operation of these departments. Travel nurses who specialize in the operating room offer critical support for regular staff during busy seasons.

Operating room (OR) nurses, also known as perioperative nurses, play a pivotal role in the surgical team. They orchestrate patient care before, during, and after surgery.

These nurses are responsible for maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room and preparing patients for surgery. They also assist the surgical team throughout the procedure.

This includes setting up surgical instruments, ensuring equipment functions properly, and providing the surgeon with the necessary tools during the operation. Post-surgery OR nurses help to transfer patients to recovery rooms. From that point, they provide critical information to recovery care nurses, ensuring continuity of care.

Their specialized knowledge and skills are essential to the success of surgical procedures. It also ensures that patients and their extended families receive quality care.

Emergency Room Nurses

Emergency Room (ER) nurses are frontline providers in the healthcare system, offering fast-paced and crucial medical services. They are tasked with quickly assessing and treating acute injuries and illnesses. Those range from minor cuts and fractures to life-threatening conditions like heart attacks or trauma.

Emergency Room nurses are required to operate in the fast-paced and often chaotic environment of emergency nursing. Their role requires them to assess the condition of each patient, prioritize treatment based on the severity, and provide immediate care.

ER travel nurses efficiently juggle a multitude of tasks, from administering medication to performing resuscitative measures or mitigating patients’ pain.

They also collaborate closely with physicians, paramedics, and other healthcare professionals to stabilize patients and transition from emergency care to admission or discharge.

The expertise and quick thinking of the ER can determine patient outcomes in seconds.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

The Intensive Care Unit is where the most critical patients are treated. It requires highly skilled travel nurses and specialized care. As healthcare technology advances, so does the need for travel nurses who can adapt to these changes while ensuring the best care possible for ICU patients.

ICU nurses, also known as critical care nurses, are tasked with the care of patients who are either critically ill or facing life-threatening injuries. They possess a highly specialized set of skills to manage complex medical equipment and provide intricate therapies. They are similar to telemetry travel nurses, except that telemetry nurses are responsible for more stable patients. The job outlook for critical care is projected to grow 9% through 2030, making it a promising specialty to focus recruitment on.

ICU nurses are extensively trained in critical care and operate within high-stakes environments where decision-making can mean the difference between life and death.

Their duties extend beyond the physical needs of patients. ICU nurses care for and offer emotional support for those in the intensive care unit and their family members.

Pediatric Nurses

Pediatric nursing requires a unique touch and understanding of child development and care. With a growing focus on comprehensive pediatric care, travel nurses with pediatric specialties are invaluable.

Pediatric nurses care for the health and well-being of children from infancy through adolescence. They work closely with families to provide a holistic approach to treatment. A branch of pediatric nurse care is PICU nurses. These nurses are also tasked with working in the pediatric intensive care unit when needed as well.

They have to take into account the unique physiological and psychological needs of young patients. Pediatric nurse care includes conducting physical exams, administering vaccinations, and monitoring growth and development.

Like other travel nurses, pediatric travel nurses also play an educational role. They instruct parents on nutrition, disease prevention, and managing chronic health conditions.

With a compassionate and patient demeanor, they seek to make healthcare experiences as positive as possible. Often they use play therapy or other child-friendly techniques to alleviate fears and encourage cooperation during medical procedures.

Psychiatric Nurses

Mental health awareness is on the rise, leading to an increased demand for psychiatric travel nurses. The ability to offer compassionate care and manage complex mental health needs is a skill set that is highly marketable. The job outlook for this skillset is particularly favorable, with a projected growth of 45% through 2029.

Psychiatric nurses operate in the healthcare delivery system. Specifically, they address the needs of patients with mental health issues. They function on interdisciplinary teams, often working closely with psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers to develop and implement comprehensive care plans.

Their responsibilities include conducting patient assessments, managing medication regimes, monitoring side effects, and providing therapeutic care.

Additionally, these travel nurses are trained to handle crisis intervention and to offer support to patients dealing with various psychological conditions. These conditions range from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

By creating a trusting environment, psychiatric nurses advocate for their patients’ well-being and their journey toward recovery.

Oncology Nurses

With cancer cases on the rise globally, the need for oncology care is higher than ever before. Travel nurses in oncology can support both patients and care teams. They provide specialized treatments and emotional support to those in need.

Oncology nurses possess a deep well of strength and compassion as they care for patients battling cancer. They are not merely caregivers but also educators and advocates for their patients.

A major part of their role is administering chemotherapy and managing side effects. However, that is not all, as they offer psychological support and foster hope during some of the most challenging times in a patient’s life.

Their expertise extends to pain management, palliative care, and providing education on treatment options to patients and their families. Oncology nurses must also be vigilant in monitoring patient responses to treatment and adept at adapting care plans to meet the evolving needs of those in their charge.

Their dedication and specialized skills are critical in the multifaceted battle against cancer.

Rehabilitation Nurses

Rehabilitation nurses work to help patients recover from injury or illness. Their expertise is particularly important in patient rehabilitation and maintaining a high quality of life post-treatment.

Rehabilitation nurses specialize in assisting individuals in regaining autonomy and adapting to an altered lifestyle post-injury, surgery, or illness.

Their patient-centric care focuses on developing comprehensive plans tailored to individuals’ specific rehabilitation goals. A few of those goals might be working towards walking again, managing chronic pain, or performing daily tasks independently.

These nurses are key players in multidisciplinary teams, working alongside therapists and physicians. Rehab nurses provide education, support, and the necessary interventions to help patients restore function and prevent complications.

By continuously assessing progress and adjusting care plans, rehabilitation nurses help pave the way toward optimal recovery and improved quality of life for their patients.

Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

Nurses in the PACU specialize in the post-operative care of patients who have undergone anesthesia. This niche area requires a unique set of skills and the ability to monitor patients closely during recovery, making travel nurses in PACU a valuable asset to medical institutions.

Their primary role is to ensure a safe and smooth transition from a sedated state to consciousness. They must carefully monitor patients’ vital signs, manage pain, and watch for any signs of complications.

The vigilance of PACU nurses is crucial. They are responsible for detecting changes in respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological status. They provide comfort and reassurance to patients who may experience confusion or distress as they recover from anesthesia.

Additionally, PACU nurses prepare patients for discharge from the unit or transfer to another area of care, providing instructions on post-operative care and pain management to patients and their families.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Travel Nursing Specialty to Recruit

travel nurse taking care of child

As a nurse or healthcare recruiter, you play a pivotal role in matching healthcare professionals with positions that align with their interests and capabilities.

When identifying an in-demand travel nursing specialty to recruit, consider the location of the job, the current market trends, and the overall compensation and benefits package being offered.

Location of the Job You are Recruiting For

Certain areas may have a consistent need for specific travel nursing specialties. Rural hospitals, for example, may have a more consistent need for a broader range of nurse specialties. Urban institutions might demand something else from the nursing workforce as their listed travel nursing jobs may be based on population density and demographics.

Job Market and Demand Trends

The nursing practice as a whole is a stable business, but as a recruiter, you do not want to be caught off guard if the market changes. Market analysis should be a primary consideration, as certain nurse specialties may experience seasonal spikes in demand or long-term growth due to population changes or healthcare policy shifts. The demand for travel nurses is there, but the specific nursing jobs may change. Optimizing your process will allow you to recruit the best candidates for the right positions.

Compensation and Benefits

The financial aspect of travel nursing jobs is often a significant motivator. Competitive salaries, sign-on bonuses, and attractive benefits packages can make a difference in the recruitment and retention of specialized nurses.

How to Best Support Nurses You Have Recruited

specialized nurse

Once nurses are recruited, it’s essential to support them throughout their travel nurse assignment and throughout their nursing career. This includes clear communication, professional development opportunities, and robust support systems to ensure a positive experience and continued job satisfaction. Continuing this will make you more successful in recruiting traveling nurses in the future.

How Nurse Recruiters Can Keep Ahead of Industry Trends

Staying ahead of the curve in the travel nursing industry requires constant vigilance and adaptability. You should try to keep your finger on the pulse of industry trends, attend relevant conferences and webinars, and foster relationships with key stakeholders to anticipate changes and position yourself for success. Doing this might give you a competitive edge if a nursing shortage is occurring. As a recruiter, you can have the right candidate ready with the exact travel nurse specialty needed to fill newly listed travel nurse jobs.

Recruitment is the Future

hiring travel nurses

Understanding which travel nursing specialties are in demand is a multifaceted and dynamic undertaking. In this ever-evolving field, the ability to stay informed, flexible, and proactive is the key to thriving as both a healthcare professional and a recruiter. There will continue to be a high demand for various nursing specialties and healthcare workers from not only hospitals but also surgical centers and other healthcare providers.

The demand for travel nursing specialties will continue to shift, presenting new challenges and opportunities for healthcare recruitment. With this list, you are equipped to handle the current and future demand in the industry.

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