By Christina Orlovsky, contributor
As you venture out into your new nursing career, you may be questioning: Where do I want to work? What kind of nurse do I want to be? One option you may not have considered is travel nursing. Typically, you need a minimum of 18 months of nursing experience in one specialty before you can apply to be a travel nurse.
Few professions offer the flexibility, portability and possibilities of travel nursing. No matter where you go, a rewarding opportunity awaits you. With travel nursing, the possibilities are almost endless, and the benefits are plentiful.
Justin Howe, RN, decided to become a travel nurse after gaining experience in the surgical ICU at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to go anywhere, so I chose an assignment on the west coast,” he said.
“Travel nursing is an excellent way to gain experience, meet new people and see the country,” Howe said. “The staff has been very welcoming and I have become close friends with my colleagues.”
One of the greatest aspects of travel nursing is how easy it is to get started. All you need is 18-24 months of acute care work experience and you could be on your way. Once you’ve made the choice to travel and applied with your chosen agency, your recruiter will do most of the work. Your only responsibility is to pack your bags, hit the road and prepare for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Midwestern nurses Kelly Harms and Jade Sessions chose to kick off their travel career by picking an assignment together in a Southern California beach town. The travel company was able to place them at the same hospital and provide them with a two-bedroom apartment. “To have someone that you know you can come home to is very comforting,” said Harms. “I don’t think I would have had the courage the first time to go on an assignment by myself. But now that I’m experienced, I have the confidence to move onto my next assignment alone.”
As a travel nurse, you can enjoy a variety of benefits, including:
- Top pay rates and bonuses.
- Free, quality accommodations.
- Medical and dental benefits.
- Résumé-building experiences working in top-rated academic, research and urban facilities.
- Learning valuable clinical skills and professional competencies.
- Exploring new cities from coast to coast.
- Making new friends or traveling with a buddy, spouse or even a pet.
- Saving for your future with a retirement plan … and more!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is travel nursing?
Travel nursing is a popular career option for nurses.
You begin by selecting a travel nursing company, and forming a relationship with a personal job recruiter. Your recruiter then helps you determine where in the United States you want to work, the type of facility that interests you and which travel assignments are available.
The travel company then helps you get placed in the work assignment of your choice, provides you with an apartment (usually close to the facility), pays some expenses and supports you during your assignment.
How much experience is needed to take a travel nursing assignment?
Most companies require 18-24 months of post-graduation experience in an acute care setting before a recruiter can place you in a travel position.
How long is a typical assignment?
Travel assignments usually last 13 weeks, but shorter ones--ranging from 2-12 weeks, often known as critical staffing or rapid-response assignments--are also available. Upon completion, you may be able to renew at the same hospital or you can travel to a new location. You are free to work as many assignments in as many locations as you like.
What specialties are most in demand at this time for travel nurses?
Most nursing specialties are in demand in acute care facilities across the United States, but the ones that currently have the greatest demand are Labor and Delivery; OR and CVOR; ER; ICU, PICU and CVICU; Cath Lab; and Med-Surg. Demands can change often, though, so nurses may want to stay in contact with a recruiter or search travel jobs for current openings.
What is my next step?
If you’re working in an acute care facility, you’ve already taken that important first step toward a career in travel nursing. Over the next few months, you can prepare for your travel nursing career by continuing to develop your nursing skills and experience. Once you are nearing 18 months of acute care experience, it would be a good time to speak to a recruiter.
If you are interested in learning more about travel nursing and whether it might be right for you, contact one of NurseZone’s travel nurse staffing partners.
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