What is a Travel Nurse?

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Travel NurseBook a journey through an exciting career path as a travel nurse. Travel nursing is an industry started more than 20 years ago—it is becoming very popular among nurses. Today, there are several agencies in the United States that began offering hospitals with temporary solution for their shortage of nurse staff. The demand for travel nurses is high in populated US states, such as Texas, California, Florida, and Arizona.

A truly rewarding and exciting career, travel nursing is ideal for nurses and other health care professionals comfortable taking assignments away from their own hometown. Nursing skills are in huge demand and this means you have nearly a limitless number of options to choose from in terms of how and where you desire to work. 

As a travel nurse you may choose to travel across the country. Another important consideration when choosing travel nursing as a career is the span of time you’ll stay in an area. There are nurses who choose to travel only a few times in a couple of months whereas others prefer to stay in an area and experience all the seasons in that particular area. Becoming a travel nurse is an excellent job for meeting new people and trying different environments while improving your career.

A career in travel nursing offers an opportunity to work in different healthcare institutions, such as research facilities, hospitals, medical schools, nursing homes, and even as nursing staff on a cruise ship. They can travel across the country as a short-term solution for a nursing staff shortage. The travel nurse position involves multi-tasking. For example, if a general staff nurse has to leave for a month, then the travel nurse temporarily will handle the work on a staff’s behalf. Travel nurses should be skilled in performing different types of nursing procedures. A travel nurse can earn a high salary because they can replace a nurse and function in specialized areas, such as nephrology, psychiatry, oncology, burn center, and so on.

A travel nurse works under a travel nursing agency or company. The agency serves as a recruitment agency-by organizing and coordinating assignments for their travel nurses and clients. There are some agencies that cater services for international assignments.

To be a travel nurse, you need to obtain your nursing degree first. Completing a Licensed Vocational curriculum, a two-year Associate degree, or a four-year Bachelor’s degree program in nursing are the minimal educational requirements needed. After passing the NCLEX-PN or the NCLEX-RN examination, you usually need to have worked at least one year in your chosen specialization to be a travel nurse. After completing the necessary requirements, then you are qualified to apply for an available travel nurse position.

While a one-year job experience has been considered as the usual standard before shifting to the travel nursing field, many companies and agencies have begun asking candidates to gain two years clinical experience. Sure, there are still agencies accepting applicants with one-year experience, but you have more options by possessing more experience. 

A registered nurse working as a travel nurse performs the nursing duties mandated by the state for which they work. When working in a new state, there are additional examinations that may need taken before working. It is the agency’s responsibility to facilitate and provide assistance to the travel nurse to pass such examinations.

Below are some of the general duties of a travel nurse irrespective of his or her specialization:

  1. Teach patients and families regarding their medical conditions
  2. Render nursing care to the injured and sick
  3. Educate patients about home care needs and post-treatments
  4. Analyze diagnostic test results
  5. Provide support and advice to the patients’ families
  6. Handle medical equipment
  7. Perform diagnostic tests
  8. Administer treatments and medications
  9. Follow-up patient and provide rehabilitation support

In hospital settings, travel nurses are usually assigned to perform in one specialized area (e.g.,surgery, ICU, emergency, OB-GYN, and oncology); however, in some cases, they may be required to rotate in several departments. While most travel nurses work in hospitals, the scope of their work is not limited in this setting as they can work in private homes, clinics, medical centers, communities, private practices, schools, rehabilitation centers, hospices, insurance companies, biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies, and international service organizations.

Besides a wide variety of work opportunities, any nurse with a nursing specialty can become a travel nurse. Here is a list of the nursing specialties always in demand for travel nursing:

  1. Nurse Anesthetist
  2. Advance Practice Nurse
  3. Radiology nurse
  4. Nurse practitioner
  5. Rehabilitation Nurse

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

A travel nurse salary will highly depend on several factors, such as experience, the travel nurse agency or company, the professional qualification, the location, and other specialized certifications. Furthermore, the salary will also be based on the duration of the assignment and the hospital’s standard hourly rate for travel nurses. But on average, the travel nurse may earn between $65,000 and $100,000 a year.

Travel nurse positions will continue to provide great opportunities and offer competitive salaries and benefits. Comparing the salaries and benefits with the continued burnout of nurses working in a stagnant hospital position, it becomes transparent why many nurses continue to pursue travel nurse positions. Travel nursing will exist as long as the demand for nurses remains strong.

  • National Association of Traveling Nurses (www.travelingnurse.org)
  • TravelNursing.com (www.travelnurse.com)

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