I’ve often wondered what it would be like to travel as a nurse. Many years ago, I graduated from a 3-year associate degree RN program, and it was unheard of in those days to accept anything but what was available at one of the two local hospitals, a long-term care facility or in-home nursing. I’ve never been much of a traveler, accept to explore our beautiful 50 states. How great it would be to pick a warm, sunny spot to mix business with pleasure! Of course, I’m use to the 0 degree weather and below (Iowa). Today, there are numerous companies begging for nurses to travel to different parts of the country, usually on 13-week assignments. What about it – is travel nursing for you?
As a profession, travel nursing has become quite popular. Competition for your nursing services is fierce, so be sure to explore your options. A good compensation plan will include housing, travel expense, health benefits and some type of retirement plan. In addition, many companies will pay RNs $40-$60/hr. depending on the area in which you work and the field of expertise. Further, some travel organizations will pay you a bonus after completing your assignment.
The requirements for becoming a traveler include being a graduate of an accredited health care professional program in the United States or Canada. You also need to show proof of the right to work in the United Sates and provide a valid license or certification. Usually the assignments require experience of two years. I have a good friend that has traveled in nursing for years and she told me that her qualities for this line of work include a positive attitude, flexibility, great clinical skills and the willingness to enjoy a new adventure. She indicated that you need to be a quick learner and have excellent communication skills.
It is possible to change to a different travel health care company, as you are in charge of your career. If you should find that you are not satisfied with one company’s service or the assignments they offer, it is simple to find one that better suits you. With previous traveling experience, you won’t have any trouble finding a company that will appreciate your skills and experience. When you travel with leaders in the industry, you can almost pick your spot as far as where you want to go and be a nurse. You’ll have access to assignments across all 50 states and in all types of health care facilities. In fact, in most cases, you will be given your own recruiter that will work with you to make sure your requests are met.
One last question that you may have as a traveling nurse is in regards to the license for different states. Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding licensure. The top traveling companies have specialists that will work with you to ensure that you obtain the required license for your assigned state well before the start date. In Iowa, we are a part of the compact-state licensure. My Iowa license is good in over half of the 50 states without having to transfer anything.
Traveling is not for everyone. Many have families that are young and it’s just not feasible to take all the children with you. However, if you are single or have a husband who also travels, you can reap fantastic rewards in this field of travel nursing. And what about your dog or cat? Pets are also allowed in most housing developments for nurses.