Travel nurses play an extremely important role in aiding hospitals and health care facilities that are in need of assistance with additional medical aid.
Because travel nurses are generally required to have at least one year of clinical work (2 – 3 years is preferred) they are quickly able to bring their expertise and knowledge into the hospital or health care facility they are hired to work for with little or no need for additional training.
In some cases LVN’s and/or LPN’s may also be hired to work as travel nurses, however most of the nurses who work in this field are registered nurses.
Travel nurses have become the backbone of many health care facilities that are struggling to find qualified nurses because of an ever-growing nursing shortage or because of a lack of qualified nurses in their area.
In fact travel nursing has become a vital element in providing patients with quality medical care and is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing fields in the nursing sector, and as older nurses begin to retire and the population continues to increase the role of travel nursing will become more important than ever before.
Without the travel nursing industry many health care facilities wouldn’t have enough staff to properly care for their patients, which would lead to longer waiting periods for patients in need of medical attention and an overall lower quality of medical care and attention.
In a field where a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death it quickly becomes clear just how important the travel nursing industry is and how indispensable these nurses are when it comes to providing aid to poorly staffed hospitals and health care facilities.
It is estimated that by 2020 as many as 800,000 jobs will need to be filled within the nursing sector to replenish the nursing shortage that we are currently facing.
While travel nursing won’t solve the nursing shortage it is a big step in the right direction.
In order to encourage nurses to work at their facilities health care organizations offer various incentives such as luxury accommodations, increased pay, License reimbursement or reimbursement for continuing education courses, relocation pay and 401 k contributions.
Travel nursing isn’t just about helping others all over the world.
It also affects the nurses who are traveling and is a big emotional commitment for these nurses because they have to be able to adapt to new environments, spend extended hours away from their homes, family and friends, adjust to a new lifestyle and be ready to work as soon as they arrive.
For those who are able to adjust to the new lifestyle of travel nursing it can be an amazing experience that provides nurses with an opportunity to see the world, gain new experiences and make lots of friends.
How to become a travel nurse
Travel nursing can be an exciting career for those who have a strong desire to help others and have always wanted to see the world.
For some nurses it’s the best of both worlds allowing them provide medical care to patients in need of medical aid while also fulfilling their travel desires.
The path to becoming a travel nurse takes time, patience and dedication, but the rewards can be well worth the effort, and those who work as travel nurses can enjoy a variety of benefits such as luxury accommodations, bonus pay, 401 k contributions, license reimbursement and a variety of other perks in addition to being able to travel the world.
If this sounds exciting and you’re interested in becoming a travel nurse then there is a path you have to take in order to get there.
These 4 steps will give you a basic idea of what is required for those looking to work as travel nurses.
1) Earn your Diploma or GED
While the first step is pretty self-explanatory in order to get accepted into a nursing school you must first acquire either your Diploma or GED in order to qualify for a nursing program.
Some travel nurse agencies may also hire LVN’s or LPN’s to work as travel nurses and if you choose this path you’ll still need to acquire your Diploma or GED before you can join an LVN/LPN program.
2) Find an accredited college or university that offers a two or four-year nursing degree program.
The next step is to find a college or university that offers a two or four-year nursing program.
Depending on the school you apply to each school will have its own prerequisites and GPA requirements so be sure to find out what courses you need to take in order to get accepted into the nursing program and make sure that your GPA average is high enough to get accepted into the program.
It’s also a good idea to sit down with a guidance counselor and get an idea of the level of competition for the nursing program so that you can decide what your best options are and whether or not that particular school is right for you.
Once you’ve been accepted into the program and passed all of your courses you’ll have to take the national licensing exam and pass it in order to earn your nursing license.
3) Acquire at least 1 year of clinical experience from a hospital or health care facility.
While travel nurse agencies look for registered nurses who have acquired 2 – 3 years of experience in a clinical care setting some will hire nurses who have acquired only 1 year of experience.
Keep in mind that 1 year is the minimum you should have before applying for a position as a travel nurse.
The more training and work experience you attain the better because health care facilities generally want to hire nurses who have a high degree of education, work experience and training, and the more experience you have the better your odds will be when it comes to getting hired for the best travel nursing jobs.
It’s also a good idea to take continuing education courses and earn as many certifications as you can while gaining experience in the field as this will look good on your resume and help your odds of getting hired by a hospital or health care facility.
The less training you need the better it looks to potential health care facilities and the more useful your skill set will be.
4) Apply to several travel nursing agencies
Once you’ve acquired the education, training and experience you need to become a competent and well-rounded travel nurse the next step is to apply to several travel nursing agencies.
The reason you’ll want to apply to several agencies is so that you can obtain the best job offers available.
No one agency can provide you with all of the different jobs you may be interested in and each agency may have their own perks and/or benefits so look around and weigh the pros and cons of each.
Also be sure to see what is required of you by the travel nursing agencies.
Drug testing, immunization shots, background checks and references are just a few of the things you’ll be asked to do and provide to the travel nursing agencies interested in working with you, so do your homework and be prepared to provide them with the information they need.
Congratulations, you’re now on your way to becoming a travel nurse!
The pleasures of travel nursing
If you’re a registered nurse or are thinking of becoming one and have always dreamed of traveling the world and meeting new people becoming a travel nurse can be a very fun and exciting career choice.
As a travel nurse you will work with different hospitals and health care practices around the country (and possibly over-seas) assisting them by filling temporary nursing positions on assignments that can last anywhere from a few weeks to 1 year or more.
While on your assignment you’ll have plenty of opportunities to go sight-seeing, enjoy the local food and culture, and make new friends.
You’ll also have a great time working with new teams of nurses and health care professionals and learn vital skills, which can greatly improve your career advancement opportunities and overall education of the nursing field.
To assist you with your travel and relocation most travel nursing agencies and hospitals will provide travel nurses with a variety of perks and incentives such as paid relocation, a temporary loaner car or rental vehicle, luxury housing, relocation bonuses, 401k incentives and permanent job opportunities at the end of an assignment as well as other perks and incentives.
Travel nurses can also enjoy great pay often earning $30 – $45 or more per hour.
On the other end travel nurses often spend extended periods of time away from their home, their family and their friends, and must adjust to new and constantly changing environments surrounded by people they’ve never met before.
Being a travel nurse requires an open mind and a willingness to get up and go, leaving everything behind and moving somewhere new often for months at a time.
Those who have a hard time separating from family and friends may find it hard to work in this profession and may ultimately choose to stay local and work at a hospital or health care center that is near their home, but for those who have a strong desire to see the world and don’t mind the get up and go mentality that comes with being a travel nurse there are plenty of opportunities to find adventure and excitement in this profession and those who work in the travel nursing industry will gain memories and friendships that will last forever.