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5 Things To Know Before Beginning Your Travel Nursing Career

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Health Carousel Travel Nursing
November 17, 2022
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Interested in travel nursing but don’t know where to begin? Perhaps you are ready to make the move, but want to ensure you’re prepared for the travel nurse life. Health Carousel Travel Nursing has helped countless nurses like you accomplish their professional goals, improve their financial well-being, and land assignments that fit their unique needs and skill sets throughout the country.

Follow along to find out what you need to know about travel nursing and why you should become one. Reach out to one of our recruiters to get started on your new career path as a travel nurse. 

What is a Travel Nurse?

A travel nurse is a registered nurse who works on a contract basis to help fill temporary nursing shortages in healthcare facilities throughout the country. Travel nurses may work in hospitals, surgical centers, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, rehab facilities, occupational health clinics, or doctor’s offices. They work in various specialties such as the emergency department, interventional radiology, labor and delivery, NICU, ICU, and pediatrics. Travel nurses fill in gaps wherever they are needed. 

Nurses work with travel nursing agencies to obtain contracts in their desired location. Contracts can last anywhere from 8-26 weeks, with 13 weeks being the most common assignment length. Most nurses will stay with one agency, while other travelers may work with many different agencies until they find the right fit. Health Carousel Travel Nursing believes in careers, not just contracts. Our goal is to empower you to work how you want, whenever and wherever you want, so you can choose the assignments that fit your evolving needs.

The responsibilities of a travel nurse are essentially the same as any staff nurse. Requirements for being a travel nurse include being a registered nurse with current licensure in the state they are contracted to be practicing in. Travel nurses must also have an active BLS certification. Staffing agencies and hospitals typically want travel nurses to have at least 1-2 years of experience before taking on a travel assignment

Travel nurses must be confident and possess exceptional critical thinking skills. Nurses usually receive  minimal orientation at each new travel assignment, therefore, excellent clinical and assessment skills are necessary. Travel nurses must adapt easily to change and be comfortable with frequent travel while constantly changing work environments. 

If you are open to new experiences, adaptable to change,  and work well under pressure, you may want to consider a career as a travel nurse.

Why Become a Travel Nurse?

Flexibility 

Travel nursing can be a dream job for nurses who are flexible and have a get-up-and-go attitude. Travel nurses can work wherever they want when they want as long as they are licensed to practice in the state of their travel nurse assignments. (A great recruiter will make sure to handle all of the details for you to obtain all necessary state licensure and credentialing). 

Travel nurses often take time off in between contracts to visit family and friends. Other travelers may take extra time off at the end of their assignment to explore the area before moving on to their next location. Having the flexibility to travel to new locations is one of the greatest benefits of being a travel nurse.

Generous pay package

Travel nursing is a great opportunity for nurses to earn a competitive salary and enjoy generous benefits packages while exploring the country. Travel nurses typically earn a higher salary than staff nurses and receive stipends for housing and tax-reimbursements for travel expenses. Most agencies offer medical benefits such as health insurance as well as dental and eye coverage. 

Career advancement

Becoming a travel nurse will help build up your resume and advance your career. Travel nurses have the unique opportunity to work in top-rated hospitals around the country. Taking an assignment in prominent healthcare facilities are sure to boost your resume and help advance your career. 

Explore new destinations

Do you love to travel and explore new destinations? Travel nursing allows you to work and experience multiple locations throughout the country. Compiling a travel nurse bucket list will help make choosing new travel nursing jobs fun. Have you always wanted to travel to California, but couldn't find the time? Choosing an assignment in a location like San Diego will allow you to explore all the city has to offer in your downtime while having your housing and travel expenses covered. Have you always wanted to live in Miami? Take advantage of travel nurse perks and live there rent-free while working in top hospitals. 

Travel nursing offers many amazing opportunities for travel. Whether you prefer to sit on the beach by the ocean, hike through the mountains, see a Broadway show in the city, or discover new restaurants, you will be sure to find a travel assignment that works for you. 

Reach out to one of our recruiters at Health Carousel Travel Nursing to learn about travel nursing contracts and what sets us apart from other agencies. 

Ready to Become a Travel Nurse? Health Carousel Travel Nursing Can Help You Find a Position Today

 Here are 5 things to know for first-time travelers before beginning their first assignment.

1. YOU MUST BE AN RN.

To become a travel nurse you must attend nursing school and earn your degree. While many hospitals prefer nurses with bachelor’s degrees or advanced certifications, at a minimum you need to have your associate’s degree in nursing. 

Along with completing their education, travel nurses must pass the NCLEX-Registered Nursing exam and have a minimum of one year of work experience. Those with advanced specialty certifications can usually begin working as travel nurses after obtaining one additional year of on-the-job training.

2. YOU HAVE TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH CHANGE.

Some individuals prefer to work in a setting where they know what to expect and have duties that rarely change, while others thrive in constantly changing environments. Travel nursing requires you to be able to adapt to new situations regularly. You will have to learn a new computer system and interact with unfamiliar nurse managers and coworkers in different hospital settings frequently.

Most travel nurse positions last between three and four months, so once you’ve just gotten into the swing of things in one location, it will be time to move to the next assignment (unless you are extended by the facility, which often happens). 

In addition to being adaptable to a new workplace, travel nurses need to be comfortable living in new locations. You will have to learn new commutes to work, where the nearest grocery store is, and the lay of the land of your new neighborhood. 

Being flexible and adaptable to change is vital for a successful travel nursing career.

3. YOU MUST BE LICENSED.

You have to be licensed in the state that you are working in. Typically, your agency will help you to finalize this important detail, but it’s a key element of travel nursing that cannot be overlooked. Take note that some states are referred to as “compact states,” which means you can work in multiple states in the region without the need for new licenses each time. Nurses are only eligible if their primary state of residence participates in the Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC). 

4. YOUR COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS MUST BE EXCEPTIONAL.

Travel nursing will bring you into contact with many people from different cultural backgrounds in various hospitals throughout the country.  Having great communication skills with patients and coworkers are necessary as a travel nurse. It’s your job as a travel nurse to understand and adapt to the region you’re in and make patients feel welcomed and understood during their time in your care.

You also want to have a great relationship with your recruiter, being able to communicate effectively will make sure that you have guaranteed hours in the assignment of your choosing. Many agencies assign you one recruiter who will be your go-to for any questions or issues that you may have.

5. YOU HAVE TO BE PASSIONATE

The life of a travel nurse can be chaotic at times (that’s why HCTN is here to serve as your trusty sidekick), and it’s hard for some individuals to be away from friends and family for extended periods.. A successful travel nursing experience comes from the love of your work and your passion for serving those in need.

If the above list of travel nurse requirements only makes you more excited to embark on this journey, you’re in the right place. There’s nothing greater than getting to experience an adventure while serving others as a travel nurse.

Author Bio

Lauren Rivera

Lauren Rivera is a nationally certified neonatal intensive care nurse with over 15 years of experience. She serves as a nurse expert offering support and educational classes for women from preconception through childhood. Lauren is also a freelance writer with works published on several nursing sites. She develops and curates content for various healthcare companies, and writes continuing education modules for other healthcare professionals.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing

Find the Travel Job that’s Right for You

Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Our trusty Super Nurse sidekicks are standing by to answer any questions you have. Click below to get information on opportunities in other states!

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