By Linda Beattie, contributor
Are you between nursing jobs, or just considering a change from your staff nursing position? If so, this might be a good time to consider travel nursing. Recruiters report that hospitals and other employers are actively seeking nurses and there are a number of excellent opportunities available.
Travel nursing provides a chance to use your current nursing skills in a different city and a different setting on a temporary basis. Traditional travel assignments last 13 weeks, while critical staffing assignments, also known as “rapid response,” can be much shorter; some assignments also offer the option to extend.
Travel nursing companies are looking for qualified registered nurses with a minimum of 18 to 24 months of experience in an acute care setting, and can help you find positions in a variety of specialties. Once contracted, travelers can enjoy guaranteed hours at good pay rates, along with furnished housing and other employment benefits.
Even if you don’t have the necessary experience yet, it’s never too early to start thinking about traveling, and in today’s rapidly changing health care environment, staffing experts advise potential travelers to be on their toes.
“As the economy continues to strengthen, there are more travel nursing jobs opening up all over the country,” said Marina Chowaiki, senior recruitment manager for American Mobile Healthcare, an AMN Healthcare company. “Now that the Affordable Care Act is moving forward, flu season is here, and hospitals are implementing electronic medical records conversions, hospitals are seeing an increase in their staffing needs. In some cases, once they have budget approval, they need nurses immediately, so you need to be ready.”
Chowaiki advises nurses to find a recruiter and work with them to remove any barriers to employment. “Work alongside your recruiter. Make sure you have all of your health documents, licensure, references and other requirements fulfilled and be ready to go.”
Chowaiki reported that travel pay rates continue to be attractive, and there are a number of current specialties in demand.
"Our highest needs right now are labor and delivery, ICU, NICU, OR, CVOR and PICU," added Caitlin Grubaugh, senior recruitment manager with American Mobile. "The high need specialties list is consistently growing, but the ones that I see always staying on top are ER, telemetry, ICU, PCU, CVICU, CVOR and L&D." Other areas that are in demand include cath lab assignments.
7 Reasons to Consider Travel Nursing
So, if you are considering becoming a travel nurse, Chowaiki and Grubaugh point out that these are just a few reasons to give it a try:
1. Gain a new perspective. A new work situation can shake you out of the doldrums and help you look at nursing with fresh eyes. Opportunities are available in teaching hospitals, specialty trauma centers, children’s hospitals, Magnet-designated facilities, and more.
2. Find fun and adventure. Experiencing a different part of the country or a new community is half the fun of travel nursing, said Chowaiki, and will energize your work life. You can use your off-hours to experience your new hometown’s cultural activities and attractions, explore the natural surroundings, pursue a new hobby, or visit with nearby friends and family.
3. Remove distractions. One of the key reasons that full-time workers decide to try to temporary work is because they are unhappy in their current positions where they may feel hindered by red tape or unit politics, according to a 2012 study in Nurse Management. Travelers are able to stay out of political and management issues, focusing more of their time on patients.
4. Acquire new skills. Travel assignments may put you in different units or using new equipment and methods, all of which improve your nursing abilities and enhance your résumé for future employment.
5. Build your confidence. The ability to enter a new situation and succeed can do great things for your psyche and job satisfaction. The more assignments you take the more confident you become, in both your personal and professional life.
6. Learn from others. With every assignment, you’ll meet other nurses who can share their knowledge, career tips and their own love of nursing. Many assignments offer special orientations for travelers along with opportunities for on-the-job training.
7. Take control of your work situation, with some help. Travel nursing offers the freedom to choose assignments at a guaranteed pay rate without the worry of being stuck in a long-term job situation you don’t like. Chowaiki and Grubaugh point out that your recruiter can find some great options and help you through the entire process.
So what kind of job market can travel nurses look forward to?
According to Kerry Sirkka, senior director of recruitment for American Mobile Healthcare, the growth trends for nursing in general and the continuing changes from health care reform translate into a consistent and long-term demand for well-qualified travel nurses. “What we continue to see is that high quality travel nurses are needed to help meet current and future demand.”
Chowaiki offered additional advice for nurses interested in pursuing travel nursing careers.
“Be flexible and open to ideas,” she advised. “There’s not just one option anymore. In addition to traditional travel assignments, you might consider critical need, EMR, per diem, or even permanent placement. It is a very fluid market, and American Mobile is making sure there is something for everyone. If you are considering a move, make sure you have a recruiter that knows what they are doing and has a lot of options to offer.”
“There are so many reasons to travel right now,” Chowaiki added. “It should be a great year to consider becoming a traveler.”
For more information on travel nursing, see our Frequently Asked Questions or apply with NurseZone’s travel staffing partners and a recruiter will be in touch.
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