Many travel nurses sign contracts with a staffing agency, which will match them with hospitals that have open positions. It can be an excellent opportunity for new experiences and explore different parts of the country. However, it’s important to remember that these jobs can be stressful. Hospitals may end your contract early if they don’t need you anymore.
Travel nurses must be flexible, adapt quickly, and learn new skills in each assignment. They must also be ready to relocate to a new city every 13 weeks – or less, depending on the length of their contract. While a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in nursing (ADN or BSN) can increase your earning potential and increase your chances of getting hired by a healthcare staffing company, it is not a prerequisite to work as a travel nurse.
Many travel nurses also pursue graduate degrees to increase their future employment chances. Obtaining a state nursing license is another important factor for travel nurses in US. You must have a valid license in your home state or a compact form that allows you to practice in all the states it covers. You should ask your travel nurse recruiter about the state’s licensing requirements and if they can help you get a temporary license in the state where you will work while on assignment.
Your recruiter will be a valuable source of information about the nursing jobs available at different locations and hospitals across the country, along with the benefits offered by their agency. Be sure to interview several travel nurse agencies and find one with a reputation for professionalism and quality service. Travel nurses often build long-term relationships with their recruiters and trust them to get them the desired jobs.
Travel nurses who specialize in specific healthcare areas can increase their job opportunities and salary potential, even though the majority of them have general nursing skills. For example, an ER travel nurse must be able to assess and diffuse situations quickly. In contrast, an ICU travel nurse has the specialized skills to monitor life-threatening situations and conditions.
Many travel nurses work with several staffing agencies and often apply for jobs at multiple locations to maximize their potential for placement. They also use the experience of each assignment to build their resume and demonstrate that they adapt well, perform in various settings, and are flexible.
Those seeking travel nurse positions should determine why they want to become a travel nurse, as it will help them choose the best location and specialty. For some, the goal is to meet new people and explore the country; others may prefer the higher pay offered by the profession.
A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) is usually required for those who want to work as travel nurses. Those who have completed a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or have transferable college credits may be able to complete an accelerated baccalaureate program to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months. Aspiring travel nurses must finish the necessary nursing coursework, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and obtain a state license to practice as registered nurses.
Travel nurses have a unique opportunity to see different parts of the country and work in various environments. This experience adds to your resume and helps you stand out to potential employers when you seek a permanent position.
While working as a travel nurse, you’ll meet permanent staff and other travel nurses, and the chance to build a vast professional network should not be underestimated. Your networks can help you find your next assignment and provide valuable support for your career.
Although some jobs may not be ideal, they offer a practical learning experience about what you do and don’t like. You’ll also gain information about the type of facilities you want to work in, which can help you decide when to begin looking for a permanent position.
Working with a travel nursing agency gives you round-the-clock access to knowledgeable people who can assist you. For example, at MAS Medical Staffing, you’ll have your recruiter who will help you get the correct assignment and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
You’ll also have access to housing experts who can arrange your accommodations, and credentialing analysts will help you get set up in the new facility. There are also several online services where former travel nurses can rate agencies.
The baseline steps for becoming a travel nurse are the same as those for any nursing career. Both an NCLEX pass and a nursing degree are requirements. It typically takes two to four years, depending on whether you opt for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program. You must also obtain a nursing license from your home state and the states where you work.
Obtaining a multi-state nurse license can be relatively easy for nurses living in a form that is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. Once you meet the minimum requirements, your next step is to find a staffing agency that provides travel nursing jobs in your desired locations.
You can find agencies online or through referrals from colleagues and friends who have worked as travel nurses. The agency will help you secure a travel nursing job and negotiate with hospitals or healthcare facilities on your behalf.
Once you land an assignment, the final step is to sign a contract that spells out the details of your travel nurse assignment. It will include the duration of your contract (most travel nursing assignments last between 4-13 weeks), your salary, the benefits package, and more.
Your recruiter will often set up your phone interview with the hospital or healthcare facility, but it’s your responsibility to represent yourself well during the call and answer any questions.