Travel nurses are nurses who aren’t tied down to a single hospital or medical center but who travel across the country all year long, providing their services at different locations. Each new assignment will be for a matter of months, so on average, a travel nurse will probably work at 4 different locations in a year. There are great reasons to want to be a travel nurse from being able to travel, gaining a more varied experience and understanding of the field, earning more money and breaking up routine to keep things fresh. With that in mind, let’s look at five steps towards achieving the travel nurse dream.
1. Become Qualified
A travel nurse, naturally, is already a fully qualified nurse. “Whilst the basic nursing qualifications are all that are technically needed to be a travelling nurse, in general, you will want more than simply the minimum associate’s degree and 1-year experience”, explains Terrence Kelly, nursing writer at WriteMyx and BritStudent. Bachelor’s or Master’s will help you stand out and having a few years under the belt can greatly increase your likelihood of finding constant work. You definitely want to know that you’re in great shape from a qualification standpoint because you don’t want there to be any risk of not finding work as you travel. Researching how the job market is feeling will also help inform your best strategy here.
2. Ensure Licensing Is In Order
One of the problems with working nationally is the fact that nursing licenses do vary depending on where you are in the country. This will really limit you if you aren’t aware of it ahead of time. The eNLC license applies to lots of states and if you hold it and live in a state that uses it, that’s a great start. However, every time you set your eyes on another destination, make sure to research the licensing policy in order to make sure you can get licensed if you need to.
3. Decide Your Financial Goals
Money may not feature heavily in your motivation for setting out on the travel nurse path, but you can be sure that it’s going to be a vital part of what you are doing. “Travel nurses can actually expect to make more money than average settled nurses, which can be very appealing to prospective candidates. But the way in which you make that money will vary agency to agency and is very much worth consideration”, explains Sarah Gabriel, health blogger at 1Day2Write and NextCoursework. Depending on the agency you will need to decide what makes the biggest difference to you from a compensation standpoint. Is it 401k, housing, perks like rental cars, travel stipends or other benefits? You need to decide this and seek it out.
4. Find And Join An Agency
Your agency will be the thing that will facilitate you getting what you want. The agencies organize their network of nursing agents and allow you to see the positions across the country that best match your skills and your goals. Once you are signed up to an agency that you like, things will become a lot simpler and you will be able to organize your life better. A word of advice, however: don’t jump at the first agency that seems basically right. You need to ensure that you do thorough research, read reviews, talk to people at agencies and see what is best.
5. Get Ready To Go!
Once you’re at an agency and actually signing up to a job somewhere across the country, that’s when it will likely hit you that it’s actually happening. Moving around like this requires a certain mentality and a certain ability to always be prepared for what is to come. This means anything from packing well to researching where you will be living and getting ready to adapt to the area. Just remember, it isn’t meant to be easy, so don’t worry if you feel like you’re struggling.
Being a travel nurse can be incredibly rewarding in a personal, career and financial sense. Knowing firmly what you want and going out to get it backed up by all the relevant qualifications and licenses is what it’s all about, so do that and you should have a great time exploring the country!