We love our travel nurses and appreciate everything that they do for patients. I often receive emails from nurses from around the country wondering what it takes to become a traveling nurse? Though travel nurse requirements vary by location, you may be surprised at how easy it is to start working in this exciting field.
Why Are Travel Nurses Needed?
There are various reasons why hospitals hire travel nurses. These may include: difficulty keeping skilled nurses based on a city’s location, need for temporary staff for expected leave of absence for their regular staff, seasonal population increases (migration of snowbirds) like in Arizona and Florida, and simply because there are not enough qualified nurses in that city.
Because of the shortage of nurses in some areas, hospitals are willing to hire skilled, qualified nursing candidates for short periods of time to help fill the gaps in order to provide excellent quality care to their patients.
The Benefits of Being a Travel Nurse
Travel nurses are able to choose where they want to work, which specialty they want to work in, and the length of time of their travel contract. Travel nurses are generally paid very well, can have all of their housing and travel costs paid for, and receive a full benefits package. The pay for a typical assignment for a travel nurse is usually more than that of a staff nurse in the area of travel and much of this money is tax-free because you are traveling more than 50 miles from your home.
As a travel nurse, you will experience traveling the US to it’s fullest. You may spend 3 months or more in each city as a travel nurse which will allow you to meet new friends, experience different cultures, food, and entertainment. You will be exposed to different healthcare delivery systems and a variety of new professional experiences that will help you become a more independent, flexible and experienced nurse.
Requirements To Be A Travel Nurse
To become a travel nurse, one must first attend a nursing school and earn, at a minimum, a degree as a registered nurse (RN). Becoming an RN is competitive and takes anywhere between two to four years depending on your program and place of study. Once these credentials have been obtained, the RN must pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and then work for a minimum of one year in a hospital setting in the specialty which they wish to practice. All facilities require their nurses to have at minimum of an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree.
Depending on which specialty you work in ACLS, PALS, NIH stroke scale and other certifications may also be necessary. It is highly beneficial to have a certification in your specialty, such as the CCRN for critical care nurses, on your resume to validate your competency as a nurse in your specific field. We also require you to have a current TB test, physical, and specific immunizations prior to starting your first assignment. Once you have completed all of the above requirements, you are then eligible to interview for available travel nurse positions.
Nurses are needed throughout the country
Finding A Travel Nursing Position
Finding a job as a travel nurse is usually the easy part. With the demand for nurses so high, the best way to find a job is to work with AB Staffing. We offer benefits such as healthcare, housing, travel allowances, life insurance plus long-term/ short-term disability insurance, a 401k retirement plan and also provide staffing across the country. Once you have selected where you want to work, you will be able to compare offers. You can interview at various locations and decide which position is best for you.
Most travel nurse assignments last 13 weeks, so if you decide you don’t like where you are working your commitment is minimal. If you do like your job and location, many nurses are offered extensions at the end of their assignment.
After all of your paperwork is complete, it’s time to choose an assignment. Many people have an idea of where they would like to travel. There might not always be options in the specific city you choose but it is almost guaranteed that there will be some in the state you choose, so keep an open mind when choosing an assignment. To work in other states it is necessary to have an RN license for that particular state. Ask your recruiter about compact RN licenses which allow you to work in many states without obtaining that specific license. If you do not have a compact RN license make sure you have enough time to acquire that state’s license before your start date.
The Travel Nurse Interview
Once you have selected where you want to work, you will be able to compare offers an interview at various locations and decide which position is best for you. The interview process for becoming a travel nurse is much simpler than it is for a staff position. Usually, a nurse manager from your staffing agency will interview you; sometimes the manager of the unit will, but that doesn’t happen all of the time. In most instances, they will have already looked at your skills checklist that you completed with your agency and have determined whether or not you are qualified for the position.
Remember, this is also an opportunity for you to decide if you want this position to write down specific questions you want to ask them, like how often they have travel nurses at their facility, what the cancellation policy is, and if there are opportunities for overtime.