What Are Traveling Nurses?

Aspiring nurses should be caring and nurturing, and they should enjoy challenging themselves to excel. If you possess these traits and dream of venturing around the world, then becoming a traveling nurse could be a good fit for you. Read on to discover what it takes to become a traveling nurse and how to get started in the field. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Traveling Nurse Job Overview

Traveling nurses, often called travelers, are registered nurses (RNs) who accept assignments in various locations outside of their residential areas, possibly even in international health facilities. To thrive as a traveling nurse, you must be able to adapt to new settings and professional procedures after just a short orientation period. High-level and wide-ranging nursing skills are crucial. It is also important that you be confident in carrying out your duties among strangers, some of whom may be from different cultures and speak different languages. Even if procedures contradict how you prefer to practice, you must be respectful of local protocols wherever you work. Furthermore, some assignments involve on-call duties and unconventional hours.

If you're adventurous and like experiential learning, the opportunities to live in different areas of the world and practice various types of nursing techniques that might not be available in your hometown could outweigh the demands of this job. The experience that you gain could serve to boost your qualifications and open additional doors in the nursing profession.

Important Facts About Traveling Nurses

Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% growth ('for all registered nurses')
Key Skills Customer focused, situational awareness, critical thinking, problem solving, observation, organization, close listening, good judgment and decision making
Work Environment Hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, physicians' offices, government agencies
Similar Occupations Licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, physician assistants, social workers, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, EMTs, paramedics

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Enter This Profession

Firstly, you will need to become a registered nurse. An associate's degree in nursing is usually the minimum educational requirement for a travel nurse, but some employers prefer candidates who hold bachelor's degrees in nursing. You must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses, usually called the NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain licensure. It will also be necessary to fulfill any additional state-mandated requirements. One or two years of working as a staff nurse is a common prerequisite for traveling nurse positions, and specialized experience is often requested.

When applying for a professional position, you should include a personalized resume along with the required paperwork; this can make your portfolio more attractive to potential employers. Once you have been offered a traveling nurse position, it is essential that you are clear on the terms of the contract. Keep in mind that most travel nurse employers require a lengthy list of documentation (degree, license, vaccinations, drug test, etc.), so make certain that these are easily accessible and up-to-date. You may also need to pass nursing skills tests that are specific to an assignment.

Employment and Salary Information

Your years of experience, flexibility and area of specialization can determine your job prospects. Positions are typically more plentiful in emergency, surgery, and intensive care departments, while pediatrics and home care nursing positions tend to be more limited.

In addition to salary, you may receive health insurance benefits, reimbursement for costs associated with travel and obtaining a license in a new state, a housing stipend, and various bonuses. Your salary as a traveler can vary widely, since pay differs among assignments and you may take on several projects throughout the year.

Official statistics regarding pay ranges for travel nurses were not available through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of 2014, though the BLS reported that registered nurses in general earned median wages of $66,640 in May 2014.

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