4 Tips for Travel Nurse Self-Assessments

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
July 13, 2022
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Whether you’re a seasoned or first time travel nurse, you are often asked to complete a skills assessment before applying for any travel nursing assignment. Let’s review what a travel nurse assessment is and tips for completing these assessments.

What Is a Travel Nurse Self-Assessment?

A skills checklist is used for the travel nurse to provide an assessment about competence and confidence regarding certain nursing skills. This assessment checklist is vital for the recruiter to utilize to place the nurse at an appropriate facility, where the traveler (you) can excel during the assignment.

A nursing skills assessment is completed online. It is usually several pages long and divided into body systems. This helps organize your skills in a way that exemplifies your specialty. Generally, a nursing skills assessment will have a scale to select from indicating the level of expertise and proficiency in the skill. Skills can range from cardiac assessments to NG tube insertion. There is an opportunity to indicate “no experience” for skills.

Why Is It Important?

Skills assessments are crucial for travel nurses. They give the travel nursing agency general knowledge of the nursing candidate’s experience and skill set. This information is relayed to the hiring manager’s attention when a travel nurse applies for a job opportunity. Hospital hiring managers use this as a tool to see if the travel nurse has relevant past year experience to the unit.


It is equally important to be honest about your skillset but not underrate yourself–a fine balance. Try not to overthink the self-ratings. It’s helpful to go back and review before submitting the final list. Additionally, some checklists use different wording, so be sure to Google any unfamiliar terms. An unfamiliar term could simply be something you're already proficient in completing, but it’s called something else.  Jotting down your skills and experience can help stimulate your brain and recall any buried experiences. It’s vital to not underrate yourself.

In the same way, you should not underrate yourself, do not overrate yourself. The facility needs an honest assessment of yourself to accurately place you where your true skill set is needed. It is important for your success as a traveler to answer as honestly as possible. Don’t be afraid to admit to ignorance. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to exude confidence in your specialty. For example, a pediatric nurse with respiratory experience will likely have the highest rankings in those categories assessing competence with respiratory patients and equipment.


Some positions require certain certifications. If you don’t already have the necessary ones, be sure to talk to your healthcare recruiter about getting certified (and reimbursed).

Many certifications can be obtained through the American Heart Association  (AHA). A basic guide for certifications include: 

  • Basic Life Support (BLS):  An updated BLS/CPR certification is required for nearly every travel position.
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS):  This is usually required for any Intensive Care Unit (ICU) positions.
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Provider (NRP): This is required for the  Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS):  This is required for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) & Pediatrics.
  • Chemotherapy Certification: This is required for any oncology units. Chemo certification can be obtained through the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) or the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing (APHON).

Usually, initial certification for any of the above certifications takes one to three days.  However, adult chemotherapy certification is an advanced course that requires a few months of planning and studying.  Be sure to set aside this time if you plan to get certified before applying. 


Additional certifications such as a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) or a Certified Critical-Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) can make your application stand out. It can also bolster your skillset. However, be prepared to spend several months studying and several hours taking the exam for these advanced certifications.

Self-assessment checklists for travel nursing assignments are a great way to showcase your skills and be matched with the hospital of your dreams.

A Quick Review

  • Jot down your experiences (before taking the assessment).
  • Make sure you have the necessary certifications for your role, and that they are up to date.
  • Obtain additional certifications as desired.
  • Always ask your company about reimbursement.

Author Bio

Katherine Taibl, RN, BSN, NP

Katherine Taibl is a Certified Pediatric Nurse. She has traveled from Boston to San Francisco and everywhere in between, working at some of the top Children’s Hospitals in the United States. She is currently a Staff Registered Nurse at her hospital, floating between PICU, NICU, Pediatrics, and Pedi-Oncology. At her current facility, she is on the Diversity Education & Inclusion Committee and is passionate about advocating for her LGBTQIA patients. She hopes to one day become a best-selling author.

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