Preparing for the Most In-Demand Nursing Specialties of 2021

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

picture of two healthcare clinicians wearing blue scrubs and partially wearing surgical masks with arms crossed behind a hospital facility

Is your facility ready to meet the need for the most in-demand nursing specialties?

In ways that have been both predictable and unpredictable, Covid-19 has had an extraordinary effect on American healthcare. As the system groans alarmingly against the strain of a rapidly spreading pandemic, huge portions of the workforce are often sidelined just when they’re needed most. And even as we leave behind 2020, that strain is only intensifying — and its effects are growing more pronounced.

“The last time we had a surge, our employees were well, they weren’t getting sick. Now we’ve had, in all of Scripps alone, more than 700 employees get COVID since the very beginning of the pandemic and 88 last week,” said Chris Van Gorder, President and CEO of San Diego’s Scripps Health network.

On the other hand, recent months have shown an unprecedented surge in applicants to medical and nursing school, too. And with relaxed allowances for retired or newly graduated nurses willing to join the battle against Covid-19, the system shows signs of ultimately weathering the storm.

Yet the situation remains tenuous, and all hinges on the wellbeing of the nurses. “I just asked for a report from all of my chief executives,” Van Gorder told San Diego’s KFMB-TV. “One even said they’re getting grumpy, but on the other hand, they also said we’ve got staff that are volunteering to work in the COVID units. They’re volunteering to put in extra shifts because they know that we need them to work extra shifts to care for the increasing census.”

As helpful and inspiring as that is, the volunteer work of exhausted staff has a limited shelf life. How, then, can facilities ensure that they have access to the most in-demand nursing specialties during the challenging time to come?

Predicting 2021’s Most In-Demand Nursing Specialties

From a purely economic, supply-and-demand perspective, two specific types of clinical worker that are critical to Covid-19 care will be among the most in-demand jobs in America next year. Writing at, the Motley Fool’s Dana George predicts that registered nurses and speech pathologists/SLPs will top that list.

We can back up George’s words, taken from our own experience from how 2020 unfolded. We’ve seen unprecedented demand for RNs and speech language therapists across the United States. And although that demand was typically concentrated on Covid-19 hotspots last year, in 2021 that demand has spread throughout the country.

Particularly when it comes to RNs, few states are truly confident that they have the supply to meet future demand. Special allowances like those listed above to facilitate the recruitment of a wider range of applicants are helping, but each facility must still to its utmost to ensure a pipeline to SLPs and the most in-demand nursing professionals.

And, just as in 2020, the spectrum of most in-demand nursing specialties this year will center on acute care nurses. Registered nurses in specialties such as ICU, CVICU and progressive care are already difficult to find in many regions (and often commanding top dollar). As we move into 2021, expect demand to continue to surge for these nurses, as well as those who specialize in telehealth and emergency health.

Need Nurses? Submit a Request Here

Meeting Your Workforce Needs with Healthcare Managed Services

Even as application of the Covid-19 vaccine spreads and the strain on hospitals subsides, the changes we’ve seen in the clinical workforce may be here to stay. Leaders and planners who haven’t yet prepared for this shift in demand should wait no longer: It’s time to make sure your recruitment plan can provide the nurses and clinicians you’re most likely to need in the months and years to come.

Even if your facility hasn’t yet been hard hit by Covid-19, the strain on the workforce affects us all. Making 2021 successful means acknowledging the need to expand recruitment for essential workers like RNs and SLPs well in advance. The idea is to make sure your network is up to a crisis before it happens — not just to cover every shift but to better maintain the wellbeing of your current team, too.  

» In case you missed it: Our experts offer 7 ways to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue

Partnering with a healthcare managed services provider (MSP) can help you prepare for the future with access to a nationwide network of contingency workers. And selecting a leading MSP like CareerStaff means getting access to a full span of ready-to-work travel and per diem nurses, therapists and other essential workers, available on a contingency or permanent basis.

Healthcare MSPs can also fill in gaps that may exist in your current workforce staffing and recruitment mechanism, such as sourcing, hiring, recruiting, onboarding, paying and providing quality benefits for those workers. They also provide access to any additional vendors as needed, as well as the latest workforce management technologies, sourcing techniques and recruitment strategies.

If you’re interested in learning more about how CareerStaff’s MSP services can connect you with the workers you need to meet most in-demand nursing specialties of 2021 — and then some — we’re standing by to fill in the details! Contact us today.

Let’s Connect