Embarking on a career as a Registered Nurse (RN) is already a noble and fulfilling path, but have you ever considered taking your nursing skills on the road? The world of travel nursing opens up exciting opportunities for healthcare professionals who crave both adventure and compassionate care. The pressing question on everyone’s mind: Can a Registered Nurse be a Travel Nurse? Absolutely! Being a registered nurse is the first requirement to become a travel nurse. However, there are a few more steps and considerations to explore on your journey to becoming a successful travel nurse.
What is Travel Nursing?
Travel nursing is an exciting and unique path within the nursing profession. It enables nurses to work temporary assignments (generally 13 weeks) in various locations across the country or internationally, offering opportunities for personal and professional growth. This field is essential in addressing nursing shortages in certain areas and ensuring that healthcare facilities can maintain a high standard of care. However, travel nursing isn’t for everyone, and it’s crucial to understand the intricacies involved to determine whether it’s the right career path for you.
How To Become a Traveling Nurse
The steps you’ll need to take to become a travel nurse will depend on how far you’re into your nursing career. For example, if you already are a registered nurse, all you have to do is find a recruiter to work with, as most travel nurses are placed through agencies. If you’re just getting started on your career, becoming a traveling nurse can take anywhere from 2 to 6 years, depending on your chosen path.
Here’s how you become a travel nurse:
- Complete your RN degree: the first step in becoming a traveling nurse is to get a college degree in nursing. There are two main options: Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). According to NurseJournal, while it’s possible to find a traveling nurse job with an ADN, most employers prefer nurses with BSN degrees.
- Pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Exam): after you’ve graduated with a BSN or ADN degree, you’ll have to pass the national council licensure exam to obtain your RN license. The NCLEX-RN is a computer-based exam that tests the skills, knowledge, and abilities that nurses must exhibit to safely and effectively practice nursing at the basic level.
- Become licensed in the state(s) where you want to practice: once you pass the NCLEX, you’ll be eligible to apply to your state’s Board of Nursing. Different states have different requirements. A staffing agency serving traveling nurses can help you with this process.
- Find a healthcare staffing agency: hospitals and healthcare facilities hire travel nurses through staffing agencies, so finding an agency that you trust is key. At TheraEx, we are here to help you navigate the world of travel nursing, whether you’re a seasoned pro or looking to embark on your first assignment. Read more about what sets us apart.
What is The Difference Between Per Diem, Travel and Local Assignments?
Per diem assignments are short-term and allow nurses to choose their shifts, offering flexibility but without guaranteed hours. These roles generally do not include additional benefits or housing stipends. Travel assignments typically last 13 weeks (but can be shorter or longer) and often include benefits, housing stipends, and travel reimbursements. Nurses in travel assignments move to different locations to fill staffing shortages, giving them the chance to explore new areas. Local assignments are for nurses who prefer to stay within a certain geographical area, allowing them to take on contract work without the need to relocate.
How Often Do I Get Paid as a Travel Nurse?
As a travel nurse, your pay schedule can vary based on the agency you work for, but most travel nurses are paid weekly. Some agencies might offer bi-weekly pay, so it’s essential to clarify this detail with your recruiter before starting an assignment. It’s also a good idea to inquire about direct deposit and other payment details to ensure you have a smooth and timely payment process. Remember that understanding your compensation package, including pay rate, tax benefits, and additional compensations or allowances, is crucial before embarking on your travel nursing journey. Make sure to get all payment-related information in writing as part of your contract.
Can You Quit a Travel Nurse Contract?
Yes, technically you can quit a travel nurse contract, but it’s crucial to understand the potential consequences before making this decision. Breaking a contract may result in penalties such as forfeiture of bonuses, owing money for travel and housing stipends, and potential damage to your professional reputation. Employers rely on travel nurses to fulfill critical staffing needs, and early departure can leave them in a tough situation, which can also impact your relationship with your travel nursing agency.
Do I Need To Get A Background Check To Be a Travel Nurse?
Most agencies and facilities will require you to undergo a background check. You will generally need to provide authorization for this as part of your application process. Healthcare organizations need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their patients, and a background check is a standard procedure in the hiring process for most, if not all, healthcare positions, including travel nursing. The background check will include verification of your nursing license, work history, and criminal history. Remember that each state and healthcare facility may have its own specific requirements and procedures, so it’s essential to be prepared and informed about the expectations for the background check process in the location and facility where you plan to work.
A travel nurse typically stays in one location for about 13 weeks, though assignments can range from 8 to 26 weeks or more, depending on the contract and the needs of the healthcare facility. There’s usually an option to extend the contract if the facility still needs the nurse and the nurse is willing to stay longer. It’s always important to communicate with the employing agency and the facility to understand the exact terms of the assignment.
Absolutely, you can travel nurse as a couple! Many healthcare staffing agencies are actually familiar with accommodating couples and can help place you in the same city or even the same facility. It’s a fantastic way for you and your partner to explore new places, gain diverse work experience, and grow both personally and professionally together. Just be prepared to be flexible and communicative about your wants and needs as a couple. Before embarking on a travel nursing assignment, have a candid discussion about your shared goals, preferred locations, and any other important factors to ensure your joint travel nursing experience is a positive one.
A good travel nurse agency should provide comprehensive support including assistance with housing, travel, and credentialing, as well as access to a representative. Here at TheraEx Staffing Services, we stand out by ensuring our availability 24/7. You can count on our unwavering support anytime, guaranteeing that your experience is seamless and fully supported, day in and day
Yes, travel nursing can indeed be stressful. Like any nursing job, it entails managing a heavy workload, long hours, and emotional intensity as you provide care to patients. Adding to this, travel nurses often move from place to place, which can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Adapting to different work environments, learning new protocols, and constantly meeting new colleagues and patients can add an extra layer of challenge. However, many nurses find the benefits, such as higher pay, the opportunity to travel, and gaining diverse work experience, outweigh the downsides. It’s crucial to weigh these factors and consider your own personality, adaptability, and career goals before diving into travel nursing.
Yes, travel nursing with children is absolutely possible, but it requires careful planning regarding schooling and childcare. Some travel nurses home-school their children or travel during summer vacation. It’s essential to openly communicate with the travel nursing agency about your family situation, as many agencies offer support and resources for traveling nurses with children. It might not be the easiest path, but many families find ways to make it work and enjoy the adventure together.
Travel nursing can indeed be financially rewarding, often offering higher pay, housing stipends, and bonuses compared to permanent positions. The experience gained by working in diverse locations and settings is invaluable, and it’s a fantastic way to explore different parts of the country (or the world).
Becoming a travel nurse is an exciting career move, but the timeline to achieve this role depends on various factors. Generally, you’ll need to first become a registered nurse (RN), which typically takes 2 to 4 years of education. Most agencies also require at least one year of professional nursing experience, preferably in a specialized field. Once you have the necessary qualifications and experience, you can apply to travel nursing agencies, a process that can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Be proactive in meeting all requirements and stay persistent in your job search to expedite the process.
To find a good travel nurse recruiter and agency, start by researching reputable agencies online, focusing on reviews and testimonials from fellow nurses. Look for agencies accredited by recognized organizations, like the Joint Commission. Connect with experienced travel nurses on forums, social media, or in person, and ask for their recommendations. Once you identify potential recruiters, communicate your needs and preferences to gauge their responsiveness and knowledge. Remember, a good recruiter will prioritize your best interests, provide clear communication, and guide you throughout your assignments.
Ensure your resume is polished and emphasizes your relevant experience and certifications. Research the facility beforehand, and craft insightful questions about it. Practice answering common nursing questions clearly and confidently. During the interview, present yourself professionally, being honest about your skills and showing enthusiasm for the role. This preparation and self-presentation will leave a positive impression, enhancing your chances of success.
What Health Insurance Options Do I Have as a Travel Nurse?
As a travel nurse, you have several health insurance options to explore. Many travel nursing agencies offer health insurance plans as a part of their benefits package, which can include medical, dental, and vision coverage. If agency-provided insurance doesn’t suit your needs, you might consider purchasing a private policy or exploring coverage through a professional nursing organization. If you are in the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace is another avenue to explore, where you can compare and purchase insurance plans based on your income and healthcare needs. It’s important to thoroughly research and consider all your options to ensure you choose the insurance coverage that best fits your unique situation and requirements as a travel nurse.
A Compact Nursing License, or a multistate license, allows nurses to practice both in their home state and other member states under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). This is crucial because it eliminates the need for nurses to obtain multiple licenses to practice in different states, making it easier and more efficient for them to provide their essential services across state lines. It makes the process of moving for assignments much easier.
Is Dating as a Travel Nurse Hard?
Dating as a travel nurse can indeed present its own set of challenges. With the constant moving from place to place, it can be hard to establish and maintain relationships. Your schedule might be erratic and unpredictable, making it difficult to set aside time for dating. The transient nature of the job means you’re often saying goodbye, which can be emotionally taxing. However, it’s not impossible! Many travel nurses find ways to make it work by using dating apps, being open and honest with their partners about their lifestyle, and prioritizing communication. It’s all about finding a balance and a partner who respects and understands your career.
Can I Travel Nurse With A Pet?
Absolutely, you can travel as a nurse with a pet, but it requires some planning and consideration. Various travel nursing agencies and housing options have different policies regarding pets, so it’s crucial to communicate with them about your furry friend beforehand. Some may offer pet-friendly housing, while others might not. It’s also essential to consider the comfort and safety of your pet while traveling and ensuring your assignments and housing accommodate both your needs and your pet’s. Be ready for possible additional deposits or fees for pet-friendly housing options.
Yes, travel nurses can absolutely bring their spouses (or families) along when they accept a travel assignment. It’s important to plan thoroughly to ensure the assignment location and housing accommodations are suitable for families. Some travel nursing agencies may offer assistance with finding family-friendly housing, or you may opt for a housing stipend and arrange your own accommodations. Keep in mind that while traveling with a spouse or family can be a wonderful experience, it does also come with its own set of challenges, such as ensuring your spouse can maintain their own career or find employment in the new location, managing childcare and schooling, and other logistical considerations.
Travel nursing isn’t just a career; it’s a journey filled with countless chances for both personal and professional growth. It’s an opportunity to explore new horizons, leaving a lasting impact on healthcare communities across the nation. This path promises ongoing learning, financial rewards, and a fulfilling career.
If you’re an RN contemplating the idea of becoming a travel nurse, think of it as an exhilarating adventure that could redefine your work-life balance. Embrace the change, embrace the challenges, and embrace the rewards that come with travel nursing. The experiences, insights, and memories you’ll collect along the way are truly priceless, making a profound contribution to your life and career. Take that leap into the world of travel nursing – your adventure is ready to unfold!
The recruiters at TheraEx can help you find the right travel nursing job and prepare you for success during your first assignment. Contact us today!