Travel nursing is one of the most marketable career moves you can make as a nurse, and it is getting easier to join the ranks of those working tourists traveling the country. Receiving great pay while exploring new locations, upgrading your professional skills, and crossing adventures off your bucket list is the ultimate line of work.
However, some people still have reservations about this lucrative career choice and are letting something hold them back. Maybe you’ve thought about travel nursing but didn’t know enough about it to make the jump. Or, perhaps you are finally at a place in your work life where the excitement of taking on travel nurse assignments is precisely what you need in the next chapter of your career. Whatever the reason, we’re here to help! Below are a few questions (and answers) that may clear any confusion about starting your travel nurse career.
How does travel nursing work?
Nurses with various specialties and backgrounds are hired to bridge staffing shortages among different facilities throughout the United States. Shortages could be caused by a lack of qualified nurses in the area, seasonal population increases, or leaves of absence like maternity leave, vacation, etc. Travel nurses have the same roles and responsibilities as the nurses who are permanent employees of the facility. A travel nursing contract may vary from facility to facility but typically include certain shifts and days off. Additional responsibilities, such as overtime, call, and floating for other units, may be required based on the need.
These facilities work with travel nursing agencies to find skilled nurses to fill these often short-term assignments. Your travel nurse advocate will help you navigate the contract process and find an assignment that suits all of your needs. It’s essential to build a tight relationship with your advocate so they can help you get the experience you want.
How long are travel nursing contracts?
Assignments traditionally last around 13 weeks, the perfect amount of time to acclimate and experience all that a location has to offer. However, a few contracts are shorter and longer than that. You can find some as short as two weeks and others as long as 26 weeks! If you love your facility and vice versa, you can receive a contract extension and stay there longer. Some travel nurses extend multiple times or even score a permanent position when the job is a perfect fit!
What are the travel nursing requirements?
Travel nurses are Registered Nurses with 12-18 months of hospital-based RN experience in their field and licensure in their home state. Depending on your specialty or the facility’s specific requirements, the required work experience may be longer. In most cases, the more experience you have, the more opportunities and travel destinations there are, and the easier it will be to adjust to a new facility.
Each state nursing board has different travel nurse requirements for out-of-state nurses who wish to work an assignment in that state. At a minimum, you will need an active state license to work there. Many states have joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) to simplify the licensing process and eliminate the need for multiple licenses.
Who can travel with me?
Anyone can pretty much come along for the ride! Many travelers go on assignments with family and pets. It’s a great opportunity to explore the country together, but there may be additional housing fees, such as pet and cleaning deposits.
It is not uncommon for travel nurses to take assignments together as well. You can even request to work in the same hospital or city and share an apartment or apartment complex. Traveling with another nurse gives you someone to explore with and often saves on costs. It’s also possible to travel as a couple.
Am I eligible for benefits like health insurance?
Yes, most travel nurse agencies offer medical and dental benefits as well as other benefits like a 401K—some even offer to match! However, you cannot take off more than a certain amount of days to maintain health insurance. If you plan to take extended time off between assignments, getting your own health insurance might be a better idea. Every staffing agency is different, and travel advocates are the best resource to learn about the benefits offered and how they can affect you.
Nurse First Travel Agency provides health, dental, and vision insurance and hopes to get 401k started very soon.
Travel nursing is a great way to advance your career and care for different patients while earning great pay and traveling the country. Travel nursing could be the perfect fit if you are adaptable and enjoy learning new skills and trying new things. If you still have questions or are unsure, check out a few of our blogs to learn more!