Canadian Travel Nurse Working in the US- From a nurses perspective

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By Laura Zurczak

April 10, 2022

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Canadian Travel Nurse Working in the U.S.

canadian travel nurse

So, you think we’re just neighbors eh? 

Myself, a Canadian travel nurse RN, BSN with over five years of nursing experience started as a traveling RN well over two years ago (time flies when you’re having the time of your life!). It was the biggest decision I have made to date. Even though I am ‘just’ a country over, its far more complicated than I anticipated. I am considered an Alien here, I’m not even kidding. I have a travel nurse work visa that requires renewing every couple of years. That’s the easy part of it all. Even if it means renewing it at a Canadian-USA international border.

Personal Canadian Car

I have travelled cross country multiple times with my Canadian insured car, and plate. Now, this is where it gets tricky. The car can only be out of the country for a few months at a time, for my insurance company anyways. This had never been a problem, because I often drove to my home county between assignments to unload and reload based on the state and weather. But I’m loving the West Coast way too much (isn’t the West coast the best coast?) and have no immediate intentions on driving cross country any time soon. So, the question is do I ship my car home just so that it’s back in the country for insurance purposes, then ship it back over, or simply sell it to make my life a whole lot easier and use public transit? I’m still trying to make the decision. 

State Licenses

Secondly, believe it or not, I have to go through vigorous paperwork for all of my single state nursing licenses. No compact licenses for me. Not only do I have to submit my university transcripts, I have to pay a couple hundred dollars (that doesn’t get reimbursed) and get my Canadian nursing degree verified through the CGFNS. This can take several weeks, even months. 

Now for the Fun Stuff

I get asked all the time what the main differences are working in the as a travel nurse in the US in comparison to Canada. When a co-worker hears that I’m from Canada, I immediately get responses like “Oh, I have cousins that lives in Vancouver, would you know them?”, or “I’ve visited the city Ontario but not the province Toronto”. I mean, I get it not all Americans are educated with Canadian geography, I myself, wasn’t familiar with the locations of states until I started driving cross country. I had a map in my hand, anticipating the next state with the fun looking “Welcome to…” signs.

Private Hospitals Verse Not-for Profit, What the Heck?

Back when I first started traveling that was the first time, I had ever heard such a thing. Now, I know the differences and I can for sure say we do not have that in the province of Ontario. Free healthcare for everyone. Which brings on the next topic. Yes, healthcare is free, but keep in mind we do pay for in sales tax for example and other ways that I probably have no idea. This topic can get tricky, but I can say it’s nice knowing I can go to the ED and not be scared if I have to be admitted. Yes, hospital stays are all covered, no bills sent in the mail. I can only imagine the headache that causes…

Working in Canada or U.S.?

Lastly, I get asked a lot, which do you like better working in Canada or the U.S.? I have only worked at one hospital in Ontario, and seven in the US, I really do like the way the system is over here. Mainly because patients are getting treated quicker with the huge one being that there are no long waits for specialist appointments! Patients are getting the proper care sooner rather than later.

Keep in mind, this is in relation to my experience at one hospital, in a small town in Ontario. I cannot account for other hospitals within the province, but from what I heard it’s pretty much the same. 

Why I do it

Some of you may think why on earth I put myself through this stress and headache every three months? To me, it’s only temporary. Once that is all out of the way, it’s smooth sailing, and that is the best part. I can enjoy myself at my new location and start my new journey. I love my home country, but I also have gotten a liking to working in US hospitals. For now, the US is my home. I am still Canadian, obviously- I’ve gotten asked that question before! 

Want more information on being a Canadian travel nurse? These articles will provide more Canadian travel nurse information and views:

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