Black Travel Nurses

Top Nursing Specialties and Types of Travel Nurses to Know

Top Nursing Specialties and Types of Travel Nurses to Know

As a travel nurse, you have the amazing opportunity to explore different nursing specialties as you move from contract to contract. With so many potential paths to consider, it can be overwhelming to decide which direction to pursue. 

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the top nursing specialties for travel nurses so you can discover the ideal route to align with your skills, interests, and career aspirations.

Table of Contents

  • Advanced Practice
  • Cardiac
  • Cardiac Intervention
  • Correctional
  • Critical Care
  • Emergency
  • Gastroenterology
  • Geriatric
  • Home Health
  • Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Maternal-Child
  • Medical Case Management
  • Medical-Surgical
  • Neonatal
  • Nurse Midwifery
  • Obstetrical
  • Oncology
  • OR – Circulate Only
  • Pediatric
  • Perianesthesia
  • Perioperative
  • Psychiatric
  • Radiology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Substance Abuse
  • Surgical
  • Telenursing
  • Travel Health

Advanced Practice

As an advanced practice travel nurse, you’ll work at an advanced level of nursing requiring a master’s degree. Your duties can include diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medication, and ordering tests. You may work as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist. The role requires strong assessment skills and clinical expertise. You’ll also collaborate closely with physicians. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge as an advanced clinician, this path offers excellent opportunities and ranks among the top specialties for highly qualified travel nurses.


Specializing in cardiac nursing means you’ll work directly with patients who have heart conditions. Your responsibilities may involve monitoring cardiac patients, assisting with procedures like stress tests and angiograms, educating patients about cardiovascular health, and providing post-surgical care. Given how common heart disease is, cardiac nurses play a vital role. You’ll get to directly support patients in managing chronic illnesses. The field also promises job stability and options to advance.

Cardiac Intervention

As a cardiac intervention nurse, you’ll work with patients undergoing cardiac catheterization procedures, angioplasties, stents, and other interventions. Strong assessment skills are critical as patients can become unstable quickly during procedures. You’ll monitor vitals, provide sedation, assist the interventionist, and watch for complications. If you enjoy fast-paced cardiac environments, this specialty allows you to be at the forefront of cutting-edge procedures that help treat heart disease.


Correctional nurses work within jails, prisons, and detention centers providing care to inmates. You’ll treat illnesses, distribute medications, triage patient needs, respond to emergencies, and coordinate outside care. The setting has unique challenges like safety concerns. When most people think of nursing specialties or types of travel nurses, this option probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. But if you have a flexible, non-judgmental approach and enjoy autonomy, a correctional nursing role can be rewarding. You’ll get to make a difference in an overlooked population.

Critical Care

As a critical care nurse, you’ll care for patients with life-threatening conditions in settings like ICUs, trauma centers, and emergency rooms. You’ll provide meticulous monitoring, high-level interventions, and continuous care. It’s a fast-paced job that requires exemplary clinical skills. The work is demanding but deeply meaningful. You’ll forge bonds with patients and make a significant impact during their most crucial hours. If you thrive under pressure, critical care is among the top nursing specialties and offers endless opportunities.


Among the most vital personnel in nursing specialties, emergency nurses work in high-intensity ER environments caring for patients with traumatic injuries and critical illnesses. You must make rapid assessments, intervene decisively, juggle multiple patients, and adapt quickly as conditions change. The role takes a combination of clinical excellence, emotional resilience, critical thinking, and composure under duress. Emergency nursing isn’t for the faint of heart but provides a constant stream of new experiences.


As a GI nurse, you’ll work with patients facing digestive diseases and disorders. You may assist with procedures like endoscopies, provide education on conditions like Crohn’s and ulcers, perform bowel prep, conduct pre-and post-procedure care, and monitor patients. Strong assessment skills are vital to detect changes in a patient’s status. If you’re fascinated by digestive health, you’ll find gastroenterology nursing extremely rewarding.


Geriatric nurses care for elderly patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospices, and home health settings. You’ll manage chronic illnesses, dementia, pain management, and end-of-life needs. These patients require specialized approaches to care and communication. If making elders comfortable is a passion, geriatric nursing allows you to directly enhance their quality of life through clinical expertise and compassion.

Home Health

As a home health nurse, you’ll visit patients in their homes and provide skilled nursing care. You may do wound care, disease education, medication management, injections, and assessments. The role requires independence and adaptability to handle varying home settings. If you enjoy developing relationships during consistent one-on-one care, home health offers patient continuity not found in hospitals.

Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice and palliative care nurses work with terminally ill patients at the end of life. You’ll manage pain, provide comfort during final days, support families, and help patients maintain dignity. The work is heavy emotionally but profoundly meaningful. If your calling is being present for patients’ final moments and helping ease their transition, this is among the top nursing specialties you can choose, as it allows you to make patients’ end-of-life journeys more comfortable.


As a maternal-child nurse, you’ll work with women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period along with newborn babies. You may provide prenatal care, deliver infants, assist high-risk pregnancies, monitor newborns’ health, and educate mothers on care. If you love working with new families during childbirth and infancy, maternal-child nursing delivers amazing rewards.

Medical Case Management

Medical case managers coordinate care and resources for patients with complex health needs. As a case manager, you’ll assess patients, create care plans, arrange services, monitor progress, and advocate for patients’ needs. Excellent communication and organizational abilities are essential. The role allows you to transcend clinical care and directly impact patients’ well-being through care coordination.


As a med-surg nurse, you’ll care for adult patients with a wide range of conditions on busy hospital floors. Med-surge nurses are among the top specialties for travel nurses and deserve serious consideration if you’re contemplating various nursing specialties. You may work with patients pre- and post-operatively, cancer patients, those with neurological issues, wounds, diabetes, pneumonia, and more. The variety makes med-surg nursing engaging. You’ll get to leverage a breadth of clinical skills to care for diverse patients.


Neonatal nurses care for fragile, vulnerable newborns in NICU settings. You’ll monitor tiny patients hooked up to intimidating equipment. The babies depend completely on your expertise. If you love delicate teamwork and supporting new life during uncertain times, becoming a neonatal nurse is a nursing specialization that promises deep rewards.

Nurse Midwifery

Nurse midwives provide care to women during pregnancy and delivery. You’ll deliver babies, order testing, manage labor, and provide newborn care. The role requires clinical expertise combined with emotional support. If you find joy in guiding women through childbirth, nurse midwifery allows you to fully participate in bringing new life into the world.


Obstetrical nurses care for women before, during, and after childbirth. You may admit patients in labor, assist deliveries, monitor mothers postpartum, and provide breastfeeding guidance. You’ll combine technical skills with emotional support through intense, intimate moments. If you love working with women transitioning into motherhood, obstetrical nursing delivers amazing fulfillment.


As an oncology nurse, you’ll work with cancer patients during diagnoses, treatment, recovery, survivorship, and sometimes end-of-life. You’ll administer chemotherapy, manage side effects, provide treatments, and give patients and families guidance. The work is challenging but making a difference for those fighting cancer is deeply meaningful.

OR – Circulate Only

In the OR, circulating nurses prepare operating rooms, obtain surgical instruments, and coordinate between teams. During surgery, you’ll monitor procedures, count sponges, assist the team, and help transport patients. Meticulous attention to detail is vital for this fast-paced role. If you thrive in intense environments, circulating nursing allows you to be at the nexus of surgical care. Though there are numerous nursing specialties from which you can choose, OR nurses are always in demand among different types of travel nurses.


Pediatric nurses work with patients from infancy through the teen years. You’ll assess growth and development, provide preventive care, treat childhood illnesses, assist with procedures, and support families. Caring for kids requires specialized approaches. If you want to help ill children heal and see them through their formative years, pediatric nursing delivers immense rewards.

Peri anesthesia

Perianesthesia nurses care for patients before anesthesia, during surgery, and post-operatively in recovery rooms. You’ll conduct pre-op assessments, provide pain management, monitor vitals, and watch for complications. Patients depend on your vigilance across volatile transitions. If you enjoy surgery environments, perianesthesia allows you to fully leverage your skills during crucial phases.


Perioperative nurses work with surgery patients before, during, and after procedures. In the pre-op phase, you’ll admit patients and conduct assessments. In the OR, you’ll participate on the surgical team. Post-operatively, you’ll monitor patients and provide education. You get to directly support patients through stressful procedures and improve surgical outcomes.


Demand for psychiatric nurses, or psych nurses, has skyrocketed in recent years, making this area one of the top specialties for travel nurses. Psych nurses work with patients facing mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, addiction, and schizophrenia. Your role may involve assessments, counseling, education, medication management, and crisis intervention. Excellent communication skills are essential. Making connections with psychiatric patients and guiding them on the path to wellness is deeply meaningful.


Radiology nurses collaborate with radiology teams during imaging procedures. You may provide patient assessments and education, administer IV contrast, monitor patients, respond to reactions, and help perform complex diagnostic exams. If you enjoy technology-focused clinical work, a radiology nursing role allows you to apply your skills in fast-paced, cutting-edge settings.


Rehab nurses represent another great area of nursing specialties. Rehabilitation nurses care for patients recovering from serious illnesses, injuries, or disabilities. You’ll develop care plans, track progress, assist with strengthening and activities, provide patient education, and collaborate with other therapists. Seeing patients regain function is extremely rewarding. Rehab nursing allows you to be an integral part of patients’ journeys back to independence.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse nurses care for patients struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. Your duties may include conducting assessments, providing medications, leading group therapy sessions, managing withdrawal symptoms, and providing education on recovery. If you want to help people break cycles of addiction, substance abuse nursing offers amazing opportunities to make a difference.


In the OR, surgical nurses prepare patients pre-operatively, assist surgeons during procedures, and ensure quality post-op care. You’ll provide instruments, medications, and sutures while anticipating needs. Surgical nursing requires intense focus and adaptability, traits that all types of travel nurses should possess. If you work well under pressure, your attention to detail can directly impact positive outcomes.


As a telenurse, you’ll provide nursing care remotely via phone and video. Your role may involve triaging patient calls, providing after-hours advice, directing patients to services, and health coaching. Excellent communication and assessment abilities are crucial when you can’t see patients in person. If you enjoy patient education and guidance, telenursing allows you to make a broad impact.

Travel Health

Travel health nursing is its own category within nursing specialties, having been recognized in 2020 as a new specialty nursing practice by the American Nurses Association. As a travel health nurse, you’ll provide specialized care to prepare domestic and international travelers for healthy, safe journeys. Your role will involve conducting risk assessments, recommending vaccinations, providing travelers with health education, prescribing medications for conditions like malaria, and offering care advice for on-the-road needs. You may work in college health services, public health departments, primary care clinics, or nurse-managed travel clinics. With your expertise, you’ll help protect and empower travelers of all kinds as they embark on adventures near and far.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the educational requirements for different nursing specialties?

Each specialty has different educational minimums. For advanced practice roles, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is required. Critical care, emergency nursing, and others may require specific certifications beyond an RN license. Some specialties like medical-surgical have fewer rigid requirements. Research the credentials needed for your specialty of interest.

Which specialties tend to have the highest salaries?

Critical care, emergency nursing, advanced practice, and perioperative nursing currently offer the highest pay rates for travel nurses, especially in competitive locations. However, don’t choose a specialty for salary alone. Ensure it aligns with your skills and interests.

What specialties offer the best work-life balance for travel nurses?

Work-life balance varies more based on your specific workplace than just your specialty. However, home health and outpatient roles like telenursing may provide more control over scheduling. If you’re traveling on assignment with family or you really want to avoid a heavy workload, realize that some specialties, like med-surg, are known for severe short-staffing. Depending on your goals, this can be an advantage – if you’d like more hours, or a drawback if your work-life balance spins completely out of control. Seek contracts that fit your goals, along with work assignments that offer at least somewhat adequate support and staffing resources.

How can I decide what specialty is the best fit?

Consider your interests, ideal work environment, skills, experience, and personality fit. If you thrive under pressure, critical care could suit you. If you desire consistency, home health may be a good option. Play to your strengths and passions. Talking to travel nurses in different specialties can provide great insights.

What resources are available for researching specialties?

The American Nurses Association outlines the scope and standards for many specialties. Books like Advance Practice Nursing: Essential Knowledge for the Profession detail roles. Reach out to travel nurses in specialties of interest. Attend nursing conferences and read nursing journals to gain up-to-date knowledge in different fields.

Diverse Options Await You

As you can see, there is incredible variety within nursing specialties and diverse options available to travel nurses. 

As you consider the next steps in your career journey, remember your skills and compassion are invaluable wherever you go. 

Each specialty comes with its own rewards and challenges. 

By choosing a path aligned with what energizes you, your nursing practice can transform the lives of so many patients needing your expertise. 

Wishing you the very best for your future in this amazing profession!


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