How To Become A Travel Nurse

Travel nurses are essential in supporting hospitals and healthcare facilities requiring additional medical staff.

Most facilities hiring travel nurses require a minimum of one year of clinical work (2 – 3 years is preferred).

It allows travel nurses to bring their expertise and knowledge into the healthcare facility with little or no extra training.

Although travel agencies hire licensed practical nurses, most are registered nurses.

As a result, the path to becoming a travel nurse generally requires sufficient registered nursing experience.

How To Become A Travel Nurse

Understanding how to become a travel nurse is highly beneficial for registered nurses interested in entering the field quickly.

Travel nursing is an exciting career for those who have a strong desire to help others and have always wanted to see the world.

It allows experienced healthcare providers to provide exceptional medical care while fulfilling their travel desires.

Becoming a travel nurse requires time, patience, and dedication, but the rewards can be well worth the effort.

Those who work as travel nurses enjoy a variety of benefits.

It includes luxury accommodations, bonus pay, 401 k contributions, license reimbursement, and other perks.

Beyond that, travel nurses get to travel the country and, in some cases, the world!

For those interested in becoming a travel nurse, there is a path for you to get there.

The following four steps provide a path for registered nurses to enter travel nursing.

The 4 Steps to Become A Travel Nurse Include the following:

  1. Obtaining your college diploma/GED
  2. Joining an accredited nursing program
  3. Pass the nursing program and NCLEX-RN exam
  4. Gaining experience as a nurse
  5. Applying to travel nurse agencies
  6. Update you resume

Those employed as registered nurses or LPNs, skip the first two steps.

That section is for aspiring students who want to enter the nursing field.

1. Obtain your Diploma or GED

The first step to becoming a travel nurse is getting into nursing school.

Accordingly, students must acquire their high school diploma or GED to qualify for a nursing program.

If you are in an accredited nursing program, move to step 3.

The same step applies to LPNs’ interest in working as licensed practical travel nurses.

You’ll need to earn a high school diploma or GED before joining an LPN program.

However, you will proceed to the LPN training program instead of pursuing a registered nursing degree.

Lastly, for LPNs that want to become registered nurses, there are LPN-to-RN bridge programs that expedite the process.

Consequently, the program qualifications vary by college.

Therefore, you’ll need to learn the university bridge program requirements to determine how to transition.

2. Join An Accredited Nursing Program

The next step to becoming a travel nurse is to join an accredited nursing program.

It means pursuing a 1 – 2 year LPN program for aspiring LPNs.

Alternatively, future registered nurses require an ASN/ADN or BSN degree.

Each university has its nursing school prerequisite obligations.

Therefore, you must determine what courses you need to take to get accepted into the nursing program.

Each school also has GPA requirements you must achieve to get accepted into the program.

As a result, it’s advisable to consult a guidance counselor to determine the nursing program’s competition level and requirements.

It will help you decide your best options and whether that university is right for you.

Once accepted into the program, you’ll need to study and pass your courses to prepare for the NCLEX exam.

Why Nursing School Accreditation Matters:

Joining an accredited nursing program is essential for state recognition and acceptance.

State-approved accredited programs assure that your education is valid.

Conversely, Non-accredited programs may not guarantee the same level of education and can result in state licensing issues.

3. Pass The Nursing Program and NCLEX Exam

After completing the nursing program, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX exam to obtain your license.

It’s the NCLEX-PN examination for LPNs, and for registered nurses, it’s the NCLEX-RN examination.

Before taking this exam, nurses are encouraged to study for several months.

It includes studying NCLEX review guides, utilizing tutors, consulting educators, and taking practice tests.

Although you’ve completed the nursing program, you must still pass the state licensure exam to become licensed.

Those who fail the NCLEX exam must retake it after sufficient time.

That said, students may work in a limited capacity while pursuing their licenses.

However, they must take the exam and acquire their licensing to maintain employment.

Those that do not obtain state licensing can lose their temporary work permit and be required to leave their job.

4. Gain Clinical Nursing Experience

Travel nurse agencies look for registered nurses who have acquired at least one year of experience in a clinical setting.

With that said, agencies usually prefer 2 – 3 years of experience.

Consequently, registered nurses with more significant experience have better opportunities in the travel nursing section.

As a result, the more training and work experience you attain, the better.

Healthcare facilities consider degree level, past work experience, supplementary training and certification, and career specialization.

It helps them fill vital roles with qualified nurses and helps travel nurses find jobs.

Therefore, pursuing valuable training, nursing certifications, and clinical experience is beneficial.

It not only looks great on your resume, but it also improves your odds of getting excellent job offers.

In short, the more valuable your skillset is, the better your opportunities and compensation.

5. Find Travel Nursing Jobs

Once you’ve acquired sufficient training and experience, the next step is to look for and apply for available travel jobs.

It can be done through websites hiring nurses for travel work or travel nursing agencies.

In many cases, travel nurses will work with agencies to obtain job offers and recommendations.

In this case, you’ll want to work with several travel agencies to help you receive the best job offers.

No one agency provides all of the various travel nurse jobs.

It’s because different agencies work with other hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Only working with one agency will limit the number of jobs you may prefer.

Furthermore, each agency may have unique perks and benefits they’ve worked out with a healthcare facility.

These perks can vary significantly and determine whether you want to take on a specific job.

Therefore, your best option is to weigh each agency’s job offers’ pros and cons.

Also, determine the travel nursing agency’s requirements to avoid issues later.

It includes drug testing, immunization shots, background checks, and references.

With that said, there are other requirements agencies may expect, so do your homework and be prepared.

6. Update Your Resume

Finally, keep your resume updated with any education, training, and certifications you acquired as a nurse.

Travel nurse agencies and future employers look at these factors to determine whether you’re a good fit.

Nothing’s worse than being qualified but not getting hired because your resume doesn’t reflect your skills.

Therefore, regular updating is extremely valuable.

The nursing community is continually expanding and changing.

As a result, the information you learn today may not be as valuable in the future.

To remain up-to-date with the latest practices and information, nurses must take continuing education courses.

Fundamentally, your resume must reflect these ever-changing healthcare demands.

Not only does it make you look good, but it also improves your career advancement opportunities.

Those looking to improve their resume should work with a high-quality resume service that provides consultation and writing services.

Although it isn’t free, these services are well worth the money, especially after all your hard work!

Congratulations, you’re ready to pursue a travel nursing career!

Work Expectations of Travel Nurses

Although travel nursing can be fun and adventurous, nurses must meet numerous expectations and demands.

Travel nursing requires nurses to assist healthcare facilities dealing with shortages.

Due to the situation, travel nurses must be highly reliable, communicate effectively, have flexible schedules, and be critical thinkers.

Furthermore, they must adapt to changing environments and conditions.

Unlike stationary positions, travel nurses move a lot. 

It means learning facility floorplans, promptly handling unexpected positions, and working with diverse staff.

Those who master these talents develop skills that translate into all fields of nursing.

Expectations of Travel Nurses

  • Reliability
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership abilities
  • Schedule flexibility
  • Clinical experience
  • Independent/collaborative thinking
  • Problem-solving skills

Finally, states have varying laws, taxes, and requirements for nurses.

You’ll need to prepare for state-specific rules as a travel nurse.

Luckily, most established travel nurse agencies will help prepare for these requirements.

Who Can Become A Travel Nurse?

Most nurses can apply for travel nurse work.

It includes LPN/LVN, registered nurses, nurses in specialized fields, and nurse practitioners.

That said, it’s important to clarify that LPNs/LVNs are not considered registered nurses.

These healthcare providers establish basic nursing training and have passed the NCLEX-PN to become licensed practical nurses.

Fundamentally, they work under a registered nurse, doctor other healthcare professionals supervision in a limited capacity.

For example, maintaining patient comfort, handling physical care, and monitoring bedside care for patient well-being.

Conversely, registered nurses participate in an accredited nursing program and have earned their ADN or BSN degree.

They also must pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain their licenses as registered nurses.

As a result of their education and training, registered nurses perform higher-skilled activities.

It includes consulting doctors directly regarding patient matters, analyzing patient results, and administering medications and treatments.

Moreover, registered nurses work in various settings, such as hospitals, emergency departments, ICUs, trauma centers, and ambulatory care departments.

Lastly, travel nurse opportunities, pay, and benefits vary depending on their education and experience.

The more knowledgeable and capable a nurse is, the more they can expect compensation.

For instance, a registered nurse will earn more than an LPN and most likely receive better compensation packages.

Moreover, advanced practice registered nurses, such as nurse practitioners, will obtain better compensation than lesser-trained nurses.

Why Nurses Love Travel Nursing

Becoming a travel nurse is an enjoyable and exciting career for registered nurses who love traveling.

You work with various hospitals and healthcare centers throughout the country and overseas as a travel nurse.

While working, you’ll assist these healthcare facilities by filling temporary nursing positions on assignments.

These assignments can last anywhere from a few weeks to 1 year or more.

While on assignment, you’ll have opportunities to go sightseeing, enjoy the local food and culture, and make new friends.

You’ll also work with new teams of nurses and healthcare professionals and learn vital skills.

Overall, this can further your career advancement opportunities and education in the nursing field.

Most travel nursing agencies and hospitals provide various perks and incentives to assist travel nurses with relocation.

Potential Travel Nurse Incentives:

  • Paid relocation
  • Temporary loaner car or rental vehicle
  • Basic or luxury housing
  • Relocation bonuses
  • 401k incentives
  • Permanent job opportunities at the end of an assignment

There are numerous other perks and incentives for highly sought-after travel nurses.

Significantly, travel nurse benefits vary based on the location, travel agency, healthcare facility, and travel nurse’s experience.

Travel nurses can also receive an excellent salary, depending on their experience, job offers, and the facility’s location.

You can learn about travel nurse pay and salary information here.

Travel nurses must be flexible and adjust to various situations compared to regular registered nurses.

For example, travel nurses often spend extended periods away from their homes, family, and friends.

In addition, they must adjust to new and constantly changing environments surrounded by people they’ve never met before.

Beginning a career as a travel nurse requires an open mind and a willingness to move somewhere new, often for months.

Those struggling to separate from family and friends may find travel nursing laborious.

As a result, some nurses choose to work locally at a hospital or healthcare center near home.

However, being a travel nurse offers diverse opportunities for adventure and excitement for those with a strong desire to travel.

In the end, few professions offer many enjoyable opportunities to create new memories and friendships that last forever.

Why Travel Nursing is Remarkably Popular

Travel nurses are the backbone of many healthcare facilities struggling to find qualified nurses.

It’s due to numerous factors, including an ever-growing nursing shortage and a lack of qualified nurses within specific fields.

As a result, travel nursing is vital for providing quality medical care.

Consequently, its profession is one of the fastest-growing fields in the nursing sector.

As older registered nurses retire and the population increases, travel nursing’s role becomes more critical.

Without the travel nursing industry, many healthcare facilities wouldn’t have enough staff to care for their patients.

To illustrate, a lack of qualified nurses leads to longer waiting times, increased stress, and lower-quality medical care.

It’s crystal clear how essential travel nurses are in a profession where minutes mean the difference between life and death.

These healthcare professionals are indispensable in supporting inadequately staffed hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Fundamentally, they provide relief to workers, improve patient health and safety and assist understaffed departments.

In the article, Nursing Shortage By State, Nightingale College emphasizes its impact throughout the united states.

Although travel nursing won’t solve the nursing shortage, it’s highly beneficial to states in high demand of qualified nurses.

Healthcare organizations offer various incentives and travel perks to encourage nurses to travel.

These include housing accommodations, increased pay, license reimbursement, reimbursement for continuing education courses, relocation pay, and 401 k contributions.

Travel nursing isn’t just about helping others; it also affects traveling nurses.

Travel nurses must adapt to new environments, spend extended hours away from home and adjust to a changing lifestyle.

However, for those who adjust easily to travel nursing, it’s a fantastic experience that provides opportunities to travel and learn.