New Grad Travel Nurse: Upgrade Your Career

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By Fusion Medical Staffing

December 30, 2022

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Upgrade Your Career as a New Grad Travel Nurse

Fusion Medical Staffing provided this article.

You already know how to become a nurse (get your degree from nursing school, pass the NCLEX, and get licensed wherever you expect to practice). But how do you become a travel nurse? The flexibility, the adventure, the connections – there are a million reasons to hit the road and kickstart your travel nursing career path.

Welcome to your guide through the process.

Can you travel nurse with no experience?

Short answer? No. Longer answer? Definitely not. But there’s a good reason!

Unfortunately, you can’t immediately jump into travel nursing, although you’re officially an RN. You’ll need a year of experience (or two) before beginning to travel nurse. This ensures the safety of your patients, your facility, and yourself.

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Travel nurses are expected to get cracking on assignments without a lot of training – orientation is short, so it isn’t enough to simply be certified.

You’ll want a real-world experience when you’re facing the factors that make travel nursing assignments rewarding: fast-paced units, new-to-you technology, and emergencies that require critical thinking skills.

What experience do you need to become a new grad travel nurse?

Try to get your first RN staff job ASAP, even if you have to move. Your entire graduating class is looking for new grad RN jobs at the local hospital, so those will have stiff competition. Don’t be afraid to branch out and gain new experiences while preparing for your first travel assignment.

Travel nursing positions have requirements depending on regional locations, the facilities and settings involved, and your specialty nursing niche.

What are the best positions for new grad RNs?

Finding a Med-Surg position in a hospital is often ideal for broad experience and exposure, but there are other options, including long-term care.

Keep in mind that even if you loved a specialty in clinicals and during simulations, it might be different at your first job placement in an official position. Now is the time to switch it up if you realize you prefer something different.

Nursing specialty positions require additional certifications or experience – check with your agency ahead of time. If you already HAVE specialty experience, great! Your skill set will help you land travel nursing jobs with detailed requirements.

When taking a specialty travel job, you might end up floating to help perm staff. This can help you gain different nursing experiences and innovate the way you approach patient care.

How do you get licensed in different states as a traveling nurse?

You need to be correctly licensed as a registered nurse in every state! The nurse licensure compact is a great place to start since the majority of states participate.

Find the best travel nurse staffing agency for new grads

To find the top travel nurse staffing agencies for your needs, explore rating services, ask for referrals from friends and co-workers, and reach out to your top picks. Consider joining a healthcare job platform that features multiple agencies and allows you to filter searches.

Or maybe you were contacted by agencies while in college – give them a ring!

How do you find the best travel nurse recruiter?

Comparing different agencies (and recruiters) is essential. Do they have good benefits? Transparent pay? When you chat, are they friendly or pushy?

A travel nurse’s best resource is their recruiter, so make sure they pass the vibe check.

Do your research, if you can – some healthcare travel platforms or agencies offer travel recruiter ratings and reviews, so you can get the scoop from other traveling nurses like you.

What are the CEU requirements for travel nurses?

Good news! There aren’t any specific CEU requirements for travel nursing. You need to stay on top of the regular requirements for each state, but you don’t have to do anything extra.

Do travel nurses make more money than staff nurses?

A travel nurse’s salary is typically larger than a permanent nurse’s salary. Jumping into positions that need to be filled quickly means that most facilities and hospitals are willing to pay a premium for skilled healthcare professionals.

Just note that the extremely competitive pay for travel nursing, which spiked during the pandemic, will not last.

So why do travel nurse jobs make more money?

Even new-grad travel nurses tend to receive higher paychecks than a new grad in a staff position with perks like reimbursements and tax-free stipends. Understanding travel nurse taxes helps traveling nurses keep the most in their pockets.

What are the best certifications for travel nurses?

Additional certifications could help you get a travel job to start with and will help you get more once you’re already traveling. See if your employer reimburses the cost of these certifications!

Waiting to start your travel nursing journey is frustrating, but new graduates and new registered nurses shouldn’t despair! As a new grad, travel nurse jobs might seem out of reach, but boost your RN experience, and your travel career will follow shortly.

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.

If you are a new travel nurse or looking into becoming a travel nurse:

Travel Nurse Guide: Step-by-Step (now offered in a PDF Downloadable version!)

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