If you’re a Registered Nurse who’s passionate about adventure and helping people, becoming a Travel Nurse could be the perfect career choice for you. Travel Nurses work temporary assignments at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities across the country, often in high-demand areas where there is a shortage of nursing staff.
In addition to the opportunity to explore new places, Travel Nurses typically earn higher pay and receive benefits such as free housing and travel reimbursements.
However, becoming a Travel Nurse requires a bit more planning and preparation than traditional nursing jobs. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become a Travel Nurse in the United States.
Step 1: Get Your Nursing Degree and License
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll first need to obtain your nursing degree and become licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN).
Complete an Accredited Nursing Program
The first step to becoming an RN is to complete an accredited nursing program. There are three main types of nursing programs: diploma programs, associate degree programs, and bachelor’s degree programs.
Diploma programs are hospital-based programs that typically take about 2-3 years to complete. Associate degree programs (ADN) are two-year programs offered at community colleges or technical schools. Bachelor’s degree programs (BSN) are four-year programs offered at universities.
All nursing programs will cover the same basic concepts, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, nursing ethics, and patient care. However, BSN programs typically offer more in-depth coursework in research, leadership, and public health.
Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
After completing an accredited nursing program, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your RN license. The NCLEX-RN is a computerized exam that tests your knowledge and skills in various areas of nursing practice, including:
- Safe and Effective Care Environment
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Physiological Integrity
Once you’ve passed the NCLEX-RN, you’ll need to apply for licensure in the state where you plan to practice. Each state has its own requirements for licensure, but most states require RNs to have graduated from an accredited nursing program and passed the NCLEX-RN.
Some states may also require additional steps, such as a criminal background check or continuing education requirements. It’s important to check with your state board of nursing to ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements.
Step 2: Gain Experience as a Staff Nurse
To become a successful Travel Nurse, it’s essential to have a solid foundation of nursing experience. Most Travel Nursing agencies require a minimum of one year of experience working as a staff nurse in a hospital or other healthcare setting.
During your time as a staff nurse, be sure to take advantage of any training opportunities and continuing education courses to build your skills and knowledge.
Step 3: Obtain Additional Certifications
The certifications required to be a travel nurse in the U.S. may vary depending on the employer and the state in which you plan to work. However, some common certifications that are highly recommended or required by many travel nursing agencies and healthcare facilities include:
- Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification: This certification is required by most healthcare facilities and travel nursing agencies. BLS certification demonstrates that you have the skills and knowledge to provide basic life support, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) Certification: This certification is required for travel nurses who work in critical care, emergency, or other specialized units. ACLS certification demonstrates that you have the advanced skills and knowledge to provide care for patients with cardiac emergencies.
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) Certification: This certification is required for travel nurses who work with pediatric patients. PALS certification demonstrates that you have the advanced skills and knowledge to provide care for critically ill or injured children.
- Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) Certification: This certification is required for travel nurses who work in emergency departments or trauma centers. TNCC certification demonstrates that you have the advanced skills and knowledge to provide care for trauma patients.
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certification: This certification is not required for travel nurses, but it can be helpful if you plan to work in a healthcare facility that requires CNAs or if you want to work as a nursing assistant in addition to your travel nursing duties.
It’s important to note that these certifications may not be required by every travel nursing agency or healthcare facility, but they can increase your chances of being hired and improve your job prospects as a travel nurse.
Some states may have specific requirements for nursing certifications and licenses, so it’s important to check with your state board of nursing to ensure that you meet all the necessary qualifications.
Step 4: Search for Travel Nursing Jobs
Finding travel nurse jobs can be a daunting task, especially for those new to the field. In this section, we’ll explore how to find travel nurse jobs online in the U.S.
Use online job sites
There are several online job boards that specialize in travel nursing jobs. These job boards allow you to search for travel nursing jobs by location, specialty, and experience level. Some of the best online job boards for travel nursing jobs include:
- Nursematcher: Nursematcher aggregates over half a million jobs to bring you the best opportunities as soon as they are released.
- Vivian: Vivian is a comprehensive job platform that lists travel nursing jobs, as well as permanent nursing jobs.
- Indeed: Indeed is a popular generic job board that lists travel nursing jobs as well as other healthcare jobs.
- HealthCareTravelers: HealthCareTravelers is a job board that specializes in travel nursing jobs, as well as other healthcare jobs.
Connect with travel nursing agencies
Another way to find Travel Nursing jobs online is to connect with travel nursing agencies. Travel nursing agencies work with healthcare facilities to fill Travel Nursing positions. These agencies can help you find Travel Nursing jobs that fit your experience and qualifications.
When choosing a Travel Nursing agency, be sure to consider factors such as pay rates, benefits, and the types of assignments they offer. It’s also a good idea to read reviews from other Travel Nurses to get an idea of what it’s like to work with a particular agency.
Some agencies also offer housing and travel assistance, which can be a huge benefit when you are working in a new city or state.
Some of the top Travel Nursing agencies in the U.S. include:
- Aya Healthcare
- American Mobile Healthcare
- Medical Solutions
- Cross Country Nurses
- Travel Nurse Across America
To connect with Travel Nursing agencies, you can visit their websites or attend nursing job fairs. You can also reach out to agencies directly to discuss available job opportunities.
Utilize social media
Social media can be a great resource for finding travel nursing jobs. Many travel nursing agencies and healthcare facilities post job openings on their social media pages. You can also join travel nursing groups on social media to connect with other travel nurses and learn about available job opportunities.
Some popular social media platforms for finding travel nursing jobs include:
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional networking site that can be a great resource for finding travel nursing jobs. You can connect with travel nursing agencies and healthcare facilities, as well as other travel nurses.
- Facebook: Facebook has several travel nursing groups where you can connect with other travel nurses and learn about available job opportunities.
- Twitter: Twitter can be a great resource for finding travel nursing jobs. Many travel nursing agencies and healthcare facilities post job openings on their Twitter pages.
Check with state nursing associations
State nursing associations can also be a great resource for finding travel nursing jobs. Many state nursing associations have job boards that list available nursing jobs, including travel nursing jobs. You can also connect with other nurses in your state who may be able to provide information on travel nursing opportunities.
Contact healthcare facilities directly
Finally, you can also contact healthcare facilities directly to inquire about travel nursing jobs. Many healthcare facilities have a need for temporary nursing staff and may be willing to hire travel nurses. You can search for healthcare facilities in your desired location and contact them directly to inquire about available job opportunities.
Step 5: Find Accommodation
As a travel nurse, finding temporary accommodation in different locations is an essential part of the job.
Whether you’re traveling solo or with your family, finding a comfortable and safe place to stay can make all the difference in your overall experience. In this guide, we’ll explore how to find travel nurse accommodation and provide you with a list of the best websites to search for temporary housing.
Know your budget
The first step in finding travel nurse accommodation is to establish a budget. Knowing how much you can afford to spend on housing can help you narrow down your options and ensure that you’re not overspending. Consider factors such as your pay rate, travel expenses, and any other expenses you may incur during your assignment.
Determine your preferred type of accommodation
Once you have a budget in mind, it’s time to determine your preferred type of accommodation. Do you prefer a fully furnished apartment or a private room in a shared house? Will you be traveling alone or with your family? Do you need a pet-friendly accommodation? These are all important factors to consider when searching for temporary housing.
Utilize housing resources provided by your agency
Many travel nursing agencies offer housing resources to their nurses. These resources can include a list of preferred housing options or even assistance with finding and booking accommodation. Be sure to ask your agency about their housing resources before beginning your search.
Use online housing websites
There are several websites that specialize in short-term housing for travel nurses. These websites offer a range of options, including apartments, condos, and private homes. Some of the best websites to find travel nurse accommodation include:
- Furnished Finder: Furnished Finder is a housing website that caters specifically to travel nurses. The website offers a range of options, from fully furnished apartments to private rooms in shared homes.
- Airbnb: Airbnb is a popular option for travelers of all kinds, including travel nurses. The website offers a range of options, from private rooms to entire apartments or homes.
- VRBO: VRBO is a vacation rental website that offers a range of options for short-term housing, including apartments, condos, and private homes.
- Craigslist: While not specifically designed for travel nurse housing, Craigslist is a popular option for finding short-term housing. Be sure to use caution and thoroughly research any options before booking.
- Travel Nurse Housing: Travel Nurse Housing is a housing website that offers a range of options for travel nurses. The website includes listings for apartments, condos, and private homes.
- Join travel nurse housing groups on social media: Social media can be a great resource for finding travel nurse accommodation. There are several Facebook groups dedicated to travel nurse housing, where you can connect with other travel nurses and find housing options in your desired location.
Consider alternative housing options
In addition to traditional housing options, there are several alternative housing options that may be worth considering. These options include:
- Extended Stay Hotels: Many hotels offer extended stay options for travellers, which can be a good option for travel nurses.
- Corporate Housing: Corporate housing offers fully furnished apartments that are typically rented for 30 days or more.
- RVs and Campgrounds: For travel nurses who enjoy camping, RVs and campgrounds can be a cost-effective option.
Finding travel nurse accommodation may seem like a daunting task, but with the right resources and planning, it can be a stress-free process. Utilize the housing resources provided by your agency, research online housing websites, join travel nurse housing groups on social media, and consider alternative housing options.
Step 6: Take Care of Logistics
Before you start your first assignment as a travel nurse, there are a few logistical tasks you need to take care of. These include:
- Obtaining a license in the state where you’ll be working
- Finalizing housing arrangements
- Arranging transportation to your assignment location
- Making sure you have the necessary equipment and supplies
Make sure you communicate with your agency and have a plan in place for each of these tasks.
Step 7: Thrive as a Travel Nurse
Once you’ve completed all the necessary steps to become a travel nurse, it’s time to start your first assignment!
As a travel nurse, you’ll have the opportunity to work in different locations and gain experience in various healthcare settings. Make the most of each assignment by learning as much as you can and building your skills and knowledge.
Travel nursing can be a challenging and rewarding career, so make sure you take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Take advantage of the benefits your agency offers, such as health insurance, paid time off, and continuing education opportunities. And don’t forget to enjoy the adventure of traveling and experiencing new places!