A lot of young people want to travel after school, but travel nurses have the unique opportunity of getting paid while doing so! A travel nurse works on a temporary basis in different healthcare facilities across the country and even around the world. Travel nursing can be an exciting and rewarding career choice for those who enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and gaining experience in a variety of healthcare settings.
Travel nursing agencies coordinate with medical facilities to meet temporary staffing needs by filling much-needed positions with temporary contractors. Travel nurses take on these short-term assignments at healthcare facilities to assist those that are short-staffed or need extra help. While many travel nursing jobs are in hospitals, there are also opportunities to work in other healthcare settings such as clinics, long-term care facilities, and home health care.
Since they move around to different locations, facilities, and departments, the specific duties of travel nurses can vary widely. Some of the most popular travel nursing specialties include: emergency room (ER) nursing, intensive care unit (ICU) nursing, operating room (OR) nursing, medical-surgical nursing, labor and delivery nursing, and pediatric nursing. Because they take on short-term assignments, travel nurses need to have strong nursing skills to allow them to jump in immediately to help the facility, as well as good people skills to quickly build trust and rapport with patients.
To become a travel nurse, you must be willing to travel and work in different locations for short periods of time. You will also need to be comfortable working with new people and adapting to new environments. Travel nursing can be a great opportunity for nurses of all ages and experience levels. It makes a lot of sense for early career nurses who haven’t yet settled down with a home or family.
Once you have obtained your nursing license and have gained some experience in the field by working in a hospital or other healthcare facility, you can start looking for travel nursing jobs. Most travel nursing jobs are within the United States. Some travel nursing companies offer jobs in various states including California, Texas, Florida, and New York. Travel nurses are also in demand in Alaska, and there are opportunities for international travel nursing as well.
Examples of skills and qualifications a travel nurse should have include:
- An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution
- One to two years of experience in the nursing field
- Effective communication skills with patients and other healthcare providers
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Flexibility to work in different departments and take on tasks assigned in each location
- Technology skills to use various medical equipment and software programs
- Empathy and patience
- Understanding of discretion and protecting confidentiality
- Ability to respond quickly and calmly in emergencies
Becoming a travel nurse requires hard work and dedication, but there are many benefits of being a travel nurse:
- Higher pay: Travel nurses typically earn higher salaries than staff nurses due to the nature of their work.
- Flexibility: Travel nursing allows you to work in different locations for short periods of time, giving you the flexibility to explore new places.
- Professional growth: Travel nursing can help you gain experience in different healthcare settings and develop new skills.
- Networking: Travel nursing allows you to meet new people and build professional relationships with other healthcare professionals.
- Housing and travel benefits: Many travel nursing companies offer housing and travel benefits, which can help you save money while traveling.
Travel nursing can be a rewarding and exciting career choice, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some of the challenges that travel nurses may face:
- Adapting to new environments: Travel nurses must be able to adapt quickly to new environments and work with new people.
- Lack of job security: Travel nursing jobs are typically short-term, which means that there is less job security than in permanent positions.
- Homesickness: Being away from home for extended periods of time can be difficult and lead to feelings of homesickness.
- Isolation: Travel nurses may feel isolated or lonely when working in new locations where they don’t know anyone.
- Lack of support: Travel nurses may not have the same level of support as permanent staff, which can make it difficult to navigate new environments and situations.
It’s great that you’re thinking ahead and preparing for the challenges of being a travel nurse! Here are some tips that can help:
- Research: Research the locations where you will be working and living. Learn about the local culture, customs, and laws to help you adapt more easily.
- Stay organized: Keep track of important documents such as your nursing license, certifications, and contracts.
- Stay connected: Stay in touch with friends and family back home to help combat feelings of homesickness.
- Take care of yourself: Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly to help you stay healthy and energized.
- Be flexible: Be prepared to adapt to new environments and work with new people.
- Be open-minded: Be open to new experiences and opportunities that come your way.
- Join a community: Join online communities or groups for travel nurses to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
If you’re interested in travel nursing, we recommend researching travel nursing agencies and their job postings to see what opportunities are available that match your skills and interests. TravelNursing.org also provides tips on how to become a travel nurse.