If you love helping people and love travelling and exploring new places, then a career in travel nursing is for you.
Travel nursing is the perfect opportunity for a registered and experienced nurse to practise while at the same time indulging in their love for visiting new cities and meeting new people.
If you have successfully completed a nursing training program and have at least one year of experience as a nurse, then you have what it takes to sign up as a travel nurse, working short-term assignments that take you to different parts of the United States and even abroad.
In addition to being a challenging, yet rewarding role, travel nursing offers a great deal of flexibility, more-than-average pay, lots of incentives and bonuses.
How to become a travel nurse
Even though travel nurses do basically the same function as regular nurses, becoming a travel nurse involves a few special requirements. Fortunately, these requirements are pretty straightforward and easy to meet.
1. Get your RN license
Before you can become a travel nurse, you have to first be a regular registered nurse, and this means getting an RN license.
To get your RN or registered nurse license, you must first obtain a high school diploma, a GED, or a BSC. After getting any of these certificates, you will then proceed to and complete a nursing program in an accredited nursing school or college, then sit for and pass the NCLEX.
While it is not compulsory to have a Bachelor’s degree as a travel nurse, nurses with Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) will find it easier to get more attractive opportunities and to get the ideal travel nursing assignments they want.
2. Get some nursing experience
It is very difficult to get an assignment as a travel nurse without some nursing experience. Hospitals who need nurses for short-term assignments want to be sure they are getting people that can get the job done, therefore, if you are looking at a career as a travel nurse, it is best you get some experience under your belt.
After obtaining your nursing license, consider getting at least a year of nursing experience in an acute-care environment. Some of the ideal departments you can work in to gain the requisite experience are labour and delivery, the ICU, and any other special care department, preferably in a big hospital.
Nurses who have years of experience on their resume will find that their experience and skills are much sought after for travel nursing jobs, as that potential employers are always on the lookout for people who have worked in acute-care environments.
3. Apply for a new state nursing license
One of the allure of travel nursing is that you can pick assignments that will take you to different parts of the country and if you are lucky, overseas. However, if your assignment is taking you to another state in the US other than your home state or where your original license is approved, then you will need to obtain the proper paperwork that will allow you to work in the state where the assignment is.
Most people tend to start the process early by applying for licenses in all the states where they wish to work. However, there are states, known as compact states that offer multistate license which allows travel nurses to use just the one license to work in all the compact states – that is, states that have agreed on the terms of the compact.
Getting the compact license or state-by-state license is usually a streamlined process, as long as you have the required qualifications, but if you don’t know where to start, your travel nursing agency can work with you on how to obtain your compact state license, or in some cases, do the applications on your behalf.
4. Sign up with a travel nursing agency
No matter how qualified and skilled you are as a nurse, you may not be able to clinch travel nursing assignments on your own without the help of a travel nursing agency.
When searching for an agency, it is important that you do your research and select the right travel agency. A good way to go about this is to talk to other nurses in the industry, asking them about agency terms, contracts, and benefits.
You can also go online to read travel nursing agency reviews, areas of assignments, and the benefits they offer.
The right travel nursing agency will make it easy for you to get into the world of travel nursing, even to the point of helping you source and acquire the relevant paperwork and licenses needed to practice in the cities where your assignments are. So make sure to ask questions and take your time when considering travel nursing agencies so that you make the right choice.
5. Keep up with your CEUs
Having gotten one foot in the travel nursing industry, it is important that you maintain your nursing license.
Most states require that you meet a particular number of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in order to renew your license. This usually differs from one state to another, so you need to properly research the requirements for the city or state you are working in.
If you are working on a compact license, you may not need this, but you can still confirm with your travel nursing agency or the nursing board in your area.
Travel nursing holds a lot of appeal for nurses who also enjoy the itinerant lifestyle. It also comes with many opportunities for career growth. If you feel this is the direction for you, then there is no better time to get started than today. Hopefully, this article contains enough to get you started on this adventurous and rewarding career.