What To Expect As An International Travel Nurse Coming to The U.S.

International travel nursing jobs bring tremendous personal, professional, and financial rewards. It’s not uncommon for travel nurses to explore their options overseas and gain new experiences and skills. However, the international travel nursing experience works both ways, as many travelers from different countries seek rewarding opportunities within the United States.

Although the demand for travel nurses may not be as high as it was, there’s still evidence of the continued need for travelers in America. Working in the US as an international travel nurse could potentially bring a higher salary, extensive career growth, and many other amazing benefits. It will be a lot to learn at first, but the autonomy included with working in the US as a valued medical professional is so worthwhile and fulfilling. Since the American healthcare system might look a bit different than your country of origin, it can be helpful to prepare for various situations. 

Queue Some Talking Points

It’s already challenging to work in a new environment, but refreshing your language-learning skills, or learning from scratch, is in a different ballpark! You may care for patients who speak very quickly or say things you’ve never heard before, so if you don’t know what they mean, ask! Travel nurses must ensure they understand everything when it comes to their processes and the safety of the patients. Try asking for clarification respectfully, like, “I’m sorry, I haven’t heard that term before. What do you mean by that?” Or, “I’m not familiar with those words. Can you explain what you mean?”

If you’re still mastering your proficiency and worried patients might doubt your nursing capabilities, confide in your colleagues. Most people are happy to help but don’t want to overstep and assume you need it. Travel nurses are a large community, and many may have found ways to learn a language more efficiently. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

Research Your Healthcare Facility

It’s best to familiarize yourself with your new setting as much as possible. A few must-knows include:

  • The attendance policy
  • How to access and review the facility’s policies and procedures
  • How to request time off, personal days, and vacation
  • How to call in sick and appropriately address unplanned time off
  • The details of your travel nursing contract to learn more about your responsibilities, guaranteed hours, etc.

Some facilities are stand-alone organizations with no other locations. However, many are now part of larger corporations with many branches across different regions. It also doesn’t hurt to learn about the local population to know who you might be treating. 

6 Ways International Travel Nurses Can Work In The U.S.

While working as a travel nurse in a different country, international travelers should consider that they’ll be far away from home and their loved ones. You may even miss some holidays and special family events. Those are some factors that you should contemplate.

Once you’ve decided to start travel nursing in America, here is what you can do next.

1. Meet the educational requirements.

According to the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), international travel nurses must meet the following educational requirements:

Graduation from an accredited Registered Nursing program: an ADN or BSN

Licensing as a Registered Nurse

Experience practicing for at least two years

2. Complete a foreign-educated nurses (FEN) course

While the aforementioned are required, most states also require international travel nurses to complete a Foreign-Educated Nurses (FEN) refresher course. The course consists of 120 hours in the classroom and 120 hours of clinical practice under the supervision of a licensed RN.

3. Take and pass an English language proficiency test if mandated

Depending on where you’re from, some travelers must pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Nurses who went to nursing school in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (except Quebec), or Ireland are exempt, as are those whose spoken language in nursing school was English or the nursing school textbooks were written in English.

4. Pass your NCLEX exam if you haven’t already

Registration is required and costs $200 plus additional foreign fees. According to the webpage, NCLEX examinations are currently administered in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan. 

5. Obtain credential evaluation

An evaluation is specifically for healthcare professionals, including registered nurses coming from other countries like Canada, to work in the United States. There are three main credentialing reports:

Credentials Evaluation Service Professional Report

CGFNS Certification Program

VisaScreen: Visa Credentials Assessment

6. Find a nursing recruiting agency or US-based employer

It’s easier for international travel nurses to work with an independent staffing recruiter and agency than directly with a hospital. Agencies are well versed in helping travel nurses work in the U.S. and have systems to ensure all information and paperwork is completed accurately.

Apply and obtain an RN immigrant visa or green card. There are three different types:

Travel Nurse Visa: Mexican and Canadian nurses may work in the United States with this visa if the individual has an offer of employment, a license to practice in their home country, and pass the NCLEX and state licensure requirements. 

H-1B Temporary Work Visa: Travel nurses who hold a four-year degree and fulfill a specialized nursing role may qualify for this visa and then apply for a green card once stateside. These specialized roles include critical care nurses, emergency room nurses, and cardiology nurses.

It is important to note that there is a minimal number of H-1C visas available to nurses who want to work in very specific hospitals in underserved communities. 

Permanent Work Visa: Most foreign-trained travel nurses will need a permanent work visa—a green card. You must complete this application before traveling to the United States and obtain the visa before immigrating legally. 

Accept a travel nurse position!

If there is a particular hospital you’re interested in, you may want to look on their site to see if they have any openings.

Get ready to experience adventure, career growth, and, hopefully, the growth of your bank account! It is important for those interested in pursuing this avenue to obtain the proper visas and paperwork. This process can take a while to complete, so don’t wait around when you decide to go abroad!

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