What Is a Travel Nurse’s Job Description?

December 22, 2022
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Across the world healthcare industries are experiencing the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we are experiencing a growing nurse staffing shortage. In a 2022 study submitted to the National Institutes of Health, several causes of the global nurse staffing shortage were identified including nurse burnout, an aging workforce, and regional growth in different parts of the country. Simultaneously, America’s population is aging and the demand for quality healthcare is growing. 

While the healthcare industry shifts, there is an increased the demand for alternative healthcare staffing solutions. Becoming a travel nurse is a great way to challenge yourself professionally, traveling to a new part of the country, and help fill a gap for a healthcare system by providing quality care to people in need. 

The Travel Nurse Job: Essential Information

Travel nurses are licensed professionals contracted in various types of healthcare facilities.  The contract is a written agreement between the nurse, the nursing agency, and the healthcare facility. Most contracts are 13 weeks but can be longer through contract extensions and are in acute care hospitals involving direct clinical patient care. Travel nurse roles exist in other areas, including community health centers, surgery centers, clinics, and specialty healthcare facilities. 

Nurses often find opportunities by working with a travel nurse agency. View our travel nurse opportunities. A travel nurse agency is a hiring employer that posts highly sought-after openings in healthcare facilities for healthcare professionals. The travel nurse is answering the need to temporarily fill positions for staffing shortages but also serving their quest for travel, adventure, and new experiences. Contracts outline far more than the hourly wage. The contract will include funds for housing, travel, and per diem expenses. Travel nurses can choose between housing provided by the agency or finding their own temporary housing. The actual travel is part of the adventure with the opportunity to explore the US from coast to coast.  

Key Responsibilities of a Traveling Nurse

As licensed healthcare professionals, travel nurses are responsible for following all professional and ethical standards, state board regulations, organizational policies, and procedures within the healthcare industry.  Travel nurses must have graduated with a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program and passed the national council licensure examination (NCLEX). Travel nurses must know the scope of their license through the state licensure board. State regulations can differ, and the nurse must be familiar with the nurse practice act for the state where they work. To learn which states you can work in with your current license, review, which outlines requirements for each state. Nurses should have a year or more experience to gain confidence and competence in their basic nursing skills as healthcare professionals. Nurses apply to a travel nurse staffing agency that will help to match the nurse's clinical skill set and experience with acute care hospital needs. All nurses must maintain their basic credentials for direct patient care, such as a CPR certification and current state-mandated continuing education units (CEU’s).

Travel Nurse Job Description

Becoming a travel nurse is a rewarding and exciting career. Take control of your career today with On Demand, our powerful web app. Most travel nurses are registered nurses (RN) and can have a bachelor's or associate's degree in nursing. They are contracted for 13 weeks at a specific facility and unit for a designated shift in direct clinical patient care. 

Travel nurse responsibilities include the full scope of patient care. Duties involve physical and psychosocial assessment, medication administration, and patient-specific procedures in specialty areas of clinical practice. All nurses collaborate with the medical team, ancillary departments, and pharmacy. Nurses also coordinate the daily patient care plan through verbal and electronic communication using Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendations (SBAR).  

Clinical judgment by all nurses involves critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving.  Travel nurses must be able to adapt to changing situations geographically and clinically as they travel in different states and facilities. 

Benefits of becoming a Traveling Nurse

Travel nurse jobs hold many benefits. One of the most enticing is the freedom over where you work, when, and for how long supporting work-life balance. The travel nurse also has the opportunity to be flexible and take their career throughout the US and even internationally. A travel nurse's salary is usually higher than a facility-employed staff nurse's. Still, it’s important to remember this is due to the lack of paid time off, certain benefits, and the temporary nature of the work. However, you will have options to choose your health, dental, 401K, and additional insurances once you have completed the initial application, background check, and human resource requirements. We offer premier benefits to support your career and lifestyle.

Travel nursing also affords some tax benefits, but all nurses should review IRS guidelines when traveling for work. Maintaining a permanent residence “tax home” can help reduce the burden of higher taxed income. (Colorado Nurse, 2022).  Each state has different tax requirements, so add this to your travel nurse prep checklist. You might even consider international travel nursing.

A travel nurse career will enable you to road-test other states, facilities, and specialty areas of nursing. The physical travel between contracts allows nurses to explore and see new places. Travel nurse housing in either corporate apartments or online housing markets for travel in the US and abroad. International travel nursing offers even more adventure. There are 50 states to explore, you have many options to build a solid clinical career, have a high income, and decide when and where you want to work. Consider your new travel nurse assignment now!

Author Bio

Brigette Quinn is a Registered Nurse with over 30 years of clinical experience. Her critical care, emergency, and perioperative nursing background built a strong foundation for undergraduate and graduate nursing education. For the past seven years, Brigette has expanded her career as a board-certified case manager and legal nurse consultant. While most of her writing experience has been in academic areas, she never stops building her skillset in honing the craft of writing for audiences.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand

Get Started Now


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand

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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