The New Travel Nurse Guide: Everything You Need to Know When Becoming a Travel Nurse

Nursing is a noble career choice — but not everyone is suited to this type of job. Nurses are a special breed of people. They work exceptionally long hours and work under constant pressure. Their job requires empathy, kindness, quick thinking, skill, and intuition.

Nursing can also be a very fulfilling profession. It’s filled with plenty of challenges and excitement to help you grow as both a person and a medical professional. There’s also a brilliant opportunity to branch off into travel nursing. This allows you to explore a country while broadening your nursing skill and knowledge.

If you’re thinking of becoming a travel nurse, this blog outlines everything you need to know.

What Is Travel Nursing?

A travel nurse is a registered nurse with the same clinical background as any other nurse. They work for an independent staffing agency that assigns them to different care areas to fulfill short-term employment gaps. These travel nursing positions are temporary, generally spanning 13-weeks at a time.

Travel nursing came about when the field of nursing faced a shortage throughout the U.S. Hospitals and clinics developed a scheme that offered open nursing positions, higher pay, and housing while covering the cost of relocation.

Travel nurses are generally legible to work in any state across the country as well as at international nursing locations. The appeal of travel, higher pay, and broadening your skillset is what makes travel nursing highly popular today.

The Importance of Travel Nurses

Travel nursing serves a major socio-economic purpose. It helps to bridge the gap between supply and demand within the healthcare industry. This ensures that the nationwide population receives the care they need and deserve.

Travel nurses also help to fulfill the mandatory nurse-patient ratios throughout hospitals and clinics across the country. Essentially, this increases patient safety, lowers mortality rates, and improves patient outcomes.

To add to this, travel nurses bring with them a different skillset and bags of knowledge from different care areas, backgrounds, and geographic locations. Overall, this makes for a more diversely skilled healthcare industry.

A Quick Guide on Becoming a Travel Nurse

In order to become a travel nurse, you’ll have to complete and receive a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. Otherwise, an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from an accredited university will also suffice.

After this, all nurses must pass the NCLEX — the National Council Licensure Examination. This means you are a licensed nurse in your chosen state of practice. The NCLEX is a nationwide exam for all nurses in the U.S. and Canada. Schooling generally takes two-four years, depending on the length of the nursing program you choose.

Nursing Experience

When it comes to medical practice, there is no better way to broaden your knowledge and skillset through hands-on experience. With nursing, experience is probably the most important factor in becoming a sought-after travel nurse.

Most travel nursing agencies look for nurses with a minimum of two years’ experience in the healthcare industry. If you have the following traits, this makes you extra appealing to nursing agencies:

  • Strong leadership skills
  • Expertise in a chosen field (additional certifications)
  • Flexibility
  • Good communication skills
  • Dependable and reliable
  • Works well under pressure
  • A good problem solver

Aside from this, nursing also requires you to have great interpersonal skills. This is because you will have to deal with many different walks-of-life throughout your nursing career, especially when travel nursing.

Bear in mind that it’s important to investigate nursing license requirements for each state. You may need to apply for a different nursing license depending on what state you intend to work in. Licenses may take days, weeks, or even months to obtain, so always plan ahead!

Travel Nurse Certifications

You don’t necessarily have to have any additional nursing certifications other than your nursing degree and license. But it does give you an edge over other nursing applicants.

Having an advanced RN certification makes your skillset all-the-more desirable to hospitals, clinics, and travel nursing agencies. Some of the most worthwhile certifications that are nationally recognized include:

  • Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN)
  • Certified Nephrology Professional (CHN)
  • Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN)
  • Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN)
  • Certified Nurse Operating Room (CNOR)
  • Certified in Care, Coordination, and Transition Management (CCCTM)

It really does depend on your preferred area of expertise, but additional certifications can make all the difference in your travel nursing applications and placement.


Travel Nurse Salary and Other Benefits

Travel nursing salaries tend to vary greatly. This is due to the average earnings based state-by-state, the nursing department, the nursing agency, and any additional certifications. Most travel nurses are paid an average of $1,300 to $2700 per week. This makes for an average annual income of $44,727 to $106,985.

Generally, nurses with specialized experience in more intensive departments tend to earn more. This includes Neonatal Intensive Care, the Operating Room, Intensive Care, and the Cardiac Cath Lab.

Other than their weekly salary, travel nurses are also legible for non-taxed stipends for their living expenses and housing in each state they work in. These stipends are paid on top of your hourly nursing rate. Some other stand-out nursing benefits include:

  • 401K investment options
  • Free continuing education courses
  • Tax advantage plans
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • Nursing license reimbursement
  • Referral bonuses
  • Liability and disability insurance
  • Worker’s compensation

Keep in mind that you should do your homework before signing up with just any travel nursing agency. Your nursing recruiter is an important figure in your career as they are the bridge between you and your next travel nursing placement.

They also ensure you are paid what you’re worth, and should always be open and honest with you about placement opportunities. Do your research, and find the best agency fit to suit your career needs.

Bring Your Travel Nursing Career to Life With Stability Healthcare

If you’re interested in becoming a travel nurse, Stability Healthcare is your go-to for finding some of the best travel nursing opportunities in America.

Search for career opportunities, set an interview, and book your next nursing assignment through our detailed online portal. Browse for travel nursing jobs here and find your ideal placement today…

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