Travel nurses are nurses who work on short-term assignments and travel from location to location for a designated time, as needed by the medical facility employing them.
Hospitals and physician offices may utilize travel nurses to fill temporary shortages due to busy seasons, peak times, or absences due to maternity leave or illness in the permanent full-time nursing staff.
Assignments can vary in length from a few days (“per diem”) to several months, depending on the nurse’s availability and the facility’s needs. The typical assignment in the travel nurse industry is 13 weeks.
Why Work as a Travel Nurse?
Many nurses get into travel nursing because they want to experience a variety of work settings and locations before settling down full-time. Travel nursing is ideal for nurses who are not bound by family obligations at home. Travel nursing also allows you to work as much or as little as you want by controlling the number of assignments you book. Travel nursing can be a great way for new graduates to decide where they want to work long-term.
Many community and junior colleges offer nursing programs that lead to an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Students in these programs typically take two to two and a half years to complete. Students complete coursework, clinical internships, and preparation for completing the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. Some community colleges offer accelerated nursing programs for those who want to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in about three years.
Completion time for both of these degrees is based on full-time enrollment. Part-time enrollment will take a longer period; however, this is a viable option for those who can not attend school full-time.
Colleges and universities offering nursing degrees typically provide two options for earning bachelor’s degrees in nursing. The first option is for those with no prior nursing education, and it takes three and a half to four years of full-time enrollment to complete.
The second option is for RNs who want to earn a bachelor’s degree. These students can typically complete the bachelor’s degree program in one to two years of full-time enrollment. The length of time is based on prior education, continuing education courses completed, and experience.
The advantage of earning a bachelor’s degree is the different doors that are now open for an RN. Bachelor’s degrees are necessary for RNs who want to become travel nurses, military nurses (officers), nursing teachers, or work in nursing schools.
Just like associate degree programs, bachelor’s degree programs can be completed through part-time enrollment.
Travel nursing is not as recession-resistant as permanent nursing positions. When hospitals are looking for ways to cut back, it is easier for a hospital to end or cut back on travel nurse assignments rather than to terminate full-time, permanently employed nurses at the hospital.
Therefore, when staff cuts become a necessity, contract and temporary employees are the first to go. Clinical staff, such as nurses, are usually more secure than the administrative staff and support staff, but as a temporary or contract employee, you are more easily expandable than permanent employees.
Also, as mentioned above, travel nursing is not good for people who have significant family obligations at home. If you cannot be flexible and travel frequently on a national basis, travel nursing may not be a good option for you.
Compensation will depend on the type of nursing degree and experience you hold. Travel nursing pay is usually comparable to permanent nurse positions. However, it may be structured differently. For example, a permanent nurse is often paid a salary with benefits. A travel nurse, depending on the agency and employer, may be paid daily or hourly, at a higher hourly rate, but may have to cover some benefits out of that higher amount.
There are hundreds of agencies that specialize in placing travel nurses. Usually, it is a good idea to register with a few agencies to increase your options for assignments. Each agency represents different assignments, locations, and employers.
Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.
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