How to Become a Travel Nurse

How to Become a Travel Nurse

With the national wide nursing shortage, travel nursing is an essential field of nursing that helps healthcare facilities fulfill their nursing staff needs for short periods of time. Travel nurses are registered nurses that provide nursing care at various hospitals and medical facilities on a temporary basis.

What does a travel nurse do?

Travel nurses work for many different healthcare facilities throughout the United States and Worldwide. They receive assignments that vary in length, from one month to a year or more. Most receive short-term contracts where they work from 4 to 13 weeks. Those that work outside of the United States typically work for 1 to 2 years. Many healthcare facilities offer extensions and permanent positions after contracts expire. Travel nurses perform patient assessments, obtain medical histories, check vital signs, administer medication, perform many different treatment procedures, and document observations and activities in patient medical records. They also provide emotional support to patients and their families.

What kind of training does a travel nurse need?

Travel nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. Many employers prefer to hire travel nurses that have at least 2 to 3 years of experience. Many healthcare facilities provide minimal orientation for new travel nurses to enable them to learn the policies and procedures of the facility. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Travel nurses must complete annual continuing education to maintain their license, keep their skills up to date, and stay abreast on current advancements in the nursing field.

What are the prospects for a career as a travel nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 22% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The nursing shortage and increased need for additional nursing staff during peak seasons will drive job growth of travel nurses.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for travel nurses with extensive experience. Many job openings will result from the need to replace travel nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do travel nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for travel nurses is $55,000; average annual travel nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a travel nurse is a great choice for individuals who desire to provide nursing care to a variety of patients in many different geographical locations. Travel nurses must have a flexible outlook, good financial planning, and the ability to adapt to a variety of medical facilities. Patience, determination, critical thinking, good problem solving skills, and good negotiation skills are essential. Travel nurses must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to interact with many different healthcare professionals and patients.

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