Nursing Specialty: What You Need to Consider Before Choosing One

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By Dan Matthews

July 26, 2021



What You Need to Consider Before Choosing a Nursing Specialty

There are more than 100 nursing specialties to choose from, whether you’re still a nursing student or years into your travel nursing career. If you’re passionate about a certain area, it’s never too late to make a change.

But, the overwhelming nature of choosing a specialty might be holding you back.

Some specialties focus directly on dealing with patients. Others are more “behind the scenes” or managerial. Which one is right for you? How can you be sure you’re going down the right path? What if you want to travel and use your skills and knowledge to help others across the world?

Let’s dive into a few things you should consider before choosing a travel nursing specialty and how your choice will impact your travel nurse career.

What is Your Passion?

Before you factor in anything else, consider what you’re most passionate about when it comes to travel nursing. Where do you find the most joy in helping others? If you love helping people but consider yourself somewhat of an introvert, you might want to think about the following specialties:

  • Nurse educator
  • Private duty nursing
  • Forensic nursing
  • Informatics
  • Legal nurse consultant

You don’t need to see patients face-to-face to help them and be an outstanding travel nurse. Technology has made it possible to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work that is just as crucial for patient care.

On the other hand, if you love being amid real patient interaction each day, your specialty should involve something more hands-on. You might even feel most passionate about a certain area of the body, like the heart, or gastrointestinal system. Honing your skills and learning about specific conditions like Transposition of the Great Arteries or reflux and GERD will allow you to help patients experiencing specific types of pain and discomfort.

Ask yourself what aspects of your job you like the best, and what makes you feel most fulfilled. No matter what you choose, you should feel content and happy at the end of each shift. 

How Do You Want to Work?

Doing something you love isn’t always enough to be fully satisfied with a specialty. You also have to consider how you want to work (and where). Do you feel more comfortable in a fast-paced hospital setting, or would you prefer working from home? If you want to work remotely, you could become a:

  • Clinical appeals nurse
  • Health informatics specialist
  • Nurse abstractor
  • Nurse auditor
  • Nursing instructor

Working remotely as a nurse will also allow you to travel. But, doing so can require licensing agreements to work in multiple states or even countries. So, consider the time and effort you want to put into traveling the world and helping others. It can take 2-4 years to officially become a travel nurse, but working from home throughout that time can help you to get your feet wet.

Alternatively, you could jump on the telehealth train. It has become increasingly popular thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, telehealth is very clearly here to stay, making healthcare more accessible for almost everyone.

The future of telehealth is mobile, which can allow you to check up on patients right from your phone with nothing more than a strong Internet connection. You can work with patients hundreds of miles away and provide them with the care and attention they need.

When you combine the aspects of travel nursing that you love, the type of environment you’re interested in, and consider the time and effort it can take for various certifications, you can narrow down your nursing specialty relatively quickly. Keep these considerations in mind if you’re thinking about a specialty, and know that no matter what you do, you’ll be making a difference.

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