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The Complete Guide to Working As a Travel Nurse

What To Know

  • With an average annual salary of $112,780 and the potential to travel around the country (or world), becoming a travel nurse is an increasingly attractive option for those who wish to have a rewarding career in the healthcare field.
  • Before making the decision to become a travel nurse, be sure to consider all the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

Travel nursing is one of the most unique careers you can have. And now, it’s also a profession that’s in high demand. With an average annual salary of $112,780 and the potential to travel around the country (or world), becoming a travel nurse is an increasingly attractive option for those who wish to have a rewarding career in the healthcare field. In this article, we’ll explain to you the steps you need to take, from getting certified to finding an employer that’s right for you.

What is a travel nurse, and why are they needed?

A travel nurse is a professional nurse who works in different locations for short-term assignments. Unlike resident nurses (RNs), who work in the same hospital for long periods of time, travel nurses have a wide range of experience as they shift from one locale to another.

Travel nurses are usually recruited by hospitals and healthcare organizations that need extra help in times of crisis or during emergencies. This can be due to anything from natural disasters and staff shortages to seasonal flu epidemics and special projects.

A few years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic showed just how helpful travel nurses can be, as they traveled around the country to provide their expertise and help hospitals cope with the crisis. National wages rose 25% in April 2020 and continued to do so for the following several months.

What is travel nursing like?

Before deciding whether you want to go down the path of becoming a travel nurse, it’s important to have an understanding of what the job involves. The regular schedule of travel nurses usually consists of 40 hours per week, and they typically follow one of these shift models: five eight-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts.

The travel nurse will usually stay in the same location for 13 weeks before moving to a new one. This gives them the opportunity to get familiar with different healthcare services in different parts of the country. Since they work on a contract basis, travel nurses can also expect to have some time off between assignments, giving them a chance to explore new cities and take some much-needed breaks.

The Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing

Travel nursing seems like an exciting and lucrative opportunity, but it is also a highly challenging profession that not everyone is suited for. Before making the decision to become a travel nurse, be sure to consider all the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

Benefits of Travel Nursing

As a travel nurse, you’ll enjoy a range of benefits that you wouldn’t get in other nursing careers. These can include:

  • Higher pay rates (over $4,000 per week), especially when working in high-demand areas or specialized niches
  • The opportunity to explore different parts of the country or world
  • Flexibility and freedom to work when and where you want
  • A chance to gain valuable experience by taking on short-term assignments
  • A variety of career options and choices in different healthcare settings
  • Extra control over your career trajectory, allowing you to focus your contracts on areas you want to build expertise in

Drawbacks of Travel Nursing

There are also some drawbacks that come with being a travel nurse, including the following:

  • Having to adjust to new environments and cultures constantly
  • The need for frequent travel, which can be expensive, despite higher wages and tax write-offs
  • A high degree of responsibility (travel nurses often take on challenging assignments and must be prepared to make split-second decisions in difficult situations)
  • The need for a certain level of physical and emotional resilience, as travel nurses can experience long hours, stressful working conditions, and demanding patients
  • Trouble dating, meeting new friends, and maintaining existing relationships

How to Become a Travel Nurse

If you want to become a travel nurse, the initial pathway is similar to that of a regular registered nurse. You’ll need to meet the basic requirements, such as having a bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing your NCLEX-RN exam. Beyond the basics, this step-by-step guide will help you get started on your journey:

1. Understand What is Expected From Travel Nursing

Like we mentioned before, being a travel nurse is no walk in the park. You’ll need to be prepared for long hours, tough assignments, and frequent relocation. You’ll also be expected to maintain the same standard of care and professionalism as any other registered nurse, regardless of location.

This means your people skills, behavior, and communication need to be top-notch. It also means you need to be highly adaptable—being able to hit the ground running in any environment will help you significantly.

2. Decide if Travel Nursing is Right for You

Travel professions of any kind require a very specific kind of personality. You’ll need to be comfortable with change and adventure, and be able to cope with the stresses of a demanding job. Travel nursing is best for those who:

  • Love to travel and explore new places
  • Are independent and self-sufficient
  • Have strong problem-solving skills
  • Feel comfortable in different settings and cultural contexts

3. Get Certified As a Travel Nurse

To obtain travel nurse certification, the process is similar to that of other nursing certifications. You’ll have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam after obtaining an ASN (Associate Degree in Nursing) or a BSN (Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing). Beyond standard certification, the most common certifications for travel nurses are:

4. Find and Apply for Travel Nursing Jobs

Since you will be a 1099 employee, you will need to be prepared to find and apply for your own job openings. This includes researching hospitals, clinics, or any other healthcare organizations you are interested in working with. There are many employment agencies that specialize in placing qualified travel nurses. Some of the more popular ones include:

  • American Mobile Healthcare
  • Cross Country Nurses
  • FlexCare Medical Staffing

You can also look online for postings specifically for travel nursing contracts, or contact hospitals and healthcare centers in the area you’re interested in. Online job boards can help you find travel nursing jobs in Michigan, for example, if you’re looking for work in the Midwest. You can use these sites to find contract work anywhere.

Endnote

Becoming a travel nurse is a great way to gain experience, explore new places, and earn a good salary. However, it comes with its own set of challenges that require certain skills and qualifications. By understanding the requirements, deciding if travel nursing is right for you, getting certified as a travel nurse, and finding new jobs on your own or through an agency, you can get started in your travel nursing career.

Medical Device News Magazinehttps://infomeddnews.com
Medical Device News Magazine provides breaking medical device / biotechnology news. Our subscribers include medical specialists, device industry executives, investors, and other allied health professionals, as well as patients who are interested in researching various medical devices. We hope you find value in our easy-to-read publication and its overall objectives! Medical Device News Magazine is a division of PTM Healthcare Marketing, Inc. Pauline T. Mayer is the managing editor.

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