What is Travel Nursing?

InteyCare Travel Nursing Nurse

A travel nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) who is hired on a contract basis to fill urgent staffing needs. These temporary assignments can last anywhere from 4-26 weeks and are located across the country. In the travel nursing industry, you can make your own schedule, choose where you take jobs, and get experience in different types of facilities. 

Why do travel nursing needs arise? It could be for reasons such as a facility preparing to treat an surge of patients during flu season, providing clinical support for a missing or understaffed specialty, or covering shifts for core facility staff during leaves of absence. Travel nursing needs can also be urgent; for example, when there is an unexpected in-flux of patients, like those that occurred with Covid-19. The travel nursing industry has grown substantially in the last six years, showing that even though the industry grew substantially during the pandemic, it is still an increasing field on the whole. In January 2022, there was a 15% increase in the average monthly postings of open travel nursing jobs. 

What Are the Typical Responsibilities of a Travel Nurse? 

The responsibilities of a travel nurse are predominantly the same as an RN. In addition to those core responsibilities, travel nurses also tend to have the ability to excel in new environments, easily pick up new processes and protocols, and be open to new experiences. Travel nurses have excellent clinical, analytical, and communications skills, are cool under pressure, and can work well with a team. And, of course, they care deeply for the well-being of their patients. 

Where Do Travel Nurses Typically Work? 

The great thing about travel nursing is you can work anywhere! While most travel nursing is based around hospital and specialty needs, there is still a need for dedicated RNs to join the post-acute space. The skills a travel nurse brings to the table can make a world of difference to patients in the following types of facilities: 

  • Nursing homes and residential care facilities 
  • Rehab facilities 
  • Home health care 
  • Outpatient surgery centers 
  • Extended care facilities 
  • Private practices 
  • Hospitals and other clinical facilities 

What Are the Requirements to Become a Travel Nurse? 

You need the following to become a practicing travel nurse: 

  • BSN Degree 
  • Passing score on the NCLEX Exam 
  • Valid RN license in the state(s) you are going to be practicing in 
  • Minimum of one year of clinical work 

What Are the Benefits of Working in Travel Nursing 

Travel 

This one seems obvious, but one of the biggest draws of travel nursing is the ability to see new places and choose where you want to work and live. If you choose to work internationally, you can also receive assistance obtaining a passport and work visa. 

Most contracts also offer travel reimbursements and free housing while they host you. 

Competitive Pay and Benefits 

On average, the pay rates for travel nurses are higher than a standard RN position, and may include bonuses, but this will depend on where you choose your contract. 

There is also an opportunity to receive medical, dental, and vision insurance, as well as retirement plans as a contract employee. 

Flexibility 

Travel nursing will not have the same flexibility that per diem nursing offers, where you can pick and choose your shifts to build out your schedule on your terms, but there is a lot of flexibility to change locations often. Furthermore, you are in control of which contract you pick and where you travel to next. With contracts being as short as 4 weeks, you could move to several different places and facilities over the course of a year. 

What Is the Average Pay for a Travel Nurse? 

The pay range for RNs is $59,450 to $120,250. On average, travel nurses see their pay in the upper range. With the median age of nurses getting older (the average age of a nurse today is over 50 years old), many nurses will soon begin to retire. This will leave an employment gap and a large opportunity for travel nursing. 

Realities of Becoming a Travel Nurse 

There are a lot of benefits to becoming a travel nurse, however there are downsides to consider, too. You must thrive in chaos. Travel nurses are often walking into understaffed, underserved, and unfamiliar spaces and must learn to quickly get up to speed and provide the help that they were hired to give. Depending on the facility, there is very little training or orientation provided. Again, travel nurses are typically brought in due to a great need, so there is a sense of urgency that comes with the job. Travel nurses perform all the duties of a registered nurse with very little context for care.  

If reading about this type of work exhilarates you, then travel nursing might be the right choice for you! You can see the country, learn from top rated facilities, and live the life you choose! 

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