A travel nurse is a licensed, registered nurse (RN) who accepts temporary assignments on a contract basis. Travel nurses control their own schedule, choose their job locations, and experience a variety of healthcare environments.
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Staffing shortages are not an uncommon problem for hospitals and facilities across the country. Travel nurses are hired by healthcare organizations such as hospitals and other medical facilities to fill staffing shortages that are due to a lack of qualified nurses in the area, medical staff vacations, seasonal patient increases, or medical staff sabbaticals and maternity leave. To find skilled nurses to fill these often short-term assignments, healthcare organizations work with recruitment agencies like LeaderStat.
A travel nurse must be an RN in good standing with an active license and, ideally, at least two years’ experience. Responsibilities are the same as a traditional RH such as: Administer care, medications, and vaccines to patients of all ages; communicate with physicians and other healthcare professionals; collaborate to create a plan of patient care; create and contribute to medical records; respond to patient inquiries and concerns; track supplies and inventory; and counsel patients.
They must be able to enter a new medical environment in a new location and get up to speed with current protocols and procedures quickly. They must have excellent clinical, analytical, and communication skills, a calm demeanor, the ability to work well within a team, and empathy for their patients.
Travel nurses must have licensure in every state where they practice. Other documentation required for travel nurse assignments includes copies of licenses (professional and driving); documentation of (current) vaccines, appropriate titer results, PPD tests, a physician statement, and a Basic Life Support card.
Yes. Just as with traditional RN roles, additional certification is necessary to specialize and subspecialize in medical care. Requirements vary depending on location and specialty. Some of the most in-demand nursing career specialties include neonatal, critical care, health policy, anesthesia, pain management, and psychiatry.
The standard travel nursing assignment is 13 weeks. Both longer and shorter assignments can also be negotiated and some nurses renew existing contracts multiple times when they find a placement they really enjoy. Contract renewals are called extension assignments and can last for three or five weeks or longer, if there is interest in staying longer.
Travel nurse assignments are available in all areas of healthcare and all types of medical organizations including: General medical hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health and hospice, occupational health, surgical hospitals, community hospitals, community health centers, and other healthcare organizations.
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects over one million nurses are required to meet the current need, and estimate employment opportunities for nurses are growing at a 15% rate through 2026 when compared to all other occupations. Demand for qualified nurses throughout the country has never been higher and this includes a greater demand for travel nurses.
America’s aging population requires a greater need for healthcare services across the board. Hospitals struggling to meet this and other demands are improving staff requirements by hiring nurses on contract. With the ability to relocate to regions with the greatest need, travel nurses are indeed in demand.
For a licensed RN, the benefits of becoming a travel nurse include improvements in personal lifestyle, professional growth, and a chance to check in on peace of mind. Flexibility, the opportunity to expand skill sets and avoiding burnout are just a few of the travel nurse benefits this career affords.
Travel nurses can arrange a flexible schedule that allows the freedom to choose positions where and when they want to work, explore new cities and towns, and meet new people. As the demand for nurses continues to grow, travel nurses may also benefit from increased compensation and perks. The unique experience can also be an advantage when pursuing career advancement. Of course, many say the biggest benefit of becoming a traveling nurse is the travel.
Travel nurse salaries are at the top-end of RN salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average RN salary is $70,000 per year, and most RNs make between $48,690 and $104,100 per year. Travel nurses can expect to earn near the upper end of this salary range.
Travel nursing jobs are available across the country, depending upon available assignment locations and staffing needs. Travel nurses are free to decide where they want to work; however, travel nurse must have licensure in every state where they practice.
Avoid the time and cost of obtaining individual licenses by acquiring a multistate license via the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows nurses who are residents of one NLC state to practice in all NLC states (please refer to the NCSBN website for a complete list of NLC states, states awaiting implementation and states where NLC legislation is pending).
Yes, although due to IRS requirements, a local job may affect your travel reimbursements. Sometimes, applicants are told about what’s commonly called the “50-mile Rule,” which states the travel nurse assignment must be at least 50 miles away from your permanent residence. The truth is you can work a contract assignment at a hospital close to your home if you choose.
Yes. You can travel with your family and pets. Depending upon which healthcare recruiter you sign with, you could be responsible for the additional housing requirements for a family such as bedrooms and space, or you may have to find your own housing. Most travel nurse recruiters provide a one-bedroom apartment or an extended stay hotel, which may not be suitable for a family or pets.
It’s not uncommon for RNs to select travel nursing assignments together. You can even request to work in the same hospital or city and to share an apartment or apartment complex. Traveling with another nurse gives you someone to explore with and often saves on costs.
It does take time for a charge nurse to get to know you and learn what you can handle. For this reason, many healthcare organizations tend to give new travel nurses easier patients to care for and leave acute patients to staff nurses. You’ll likely be the first to float during a shift, as well.
Travel nurse assignments can increase your skill levels, expose you to different regional nursing procedures and patient populations, and give you the opportunity to work in a wider variety of specialties. You gain experience learning a new clinical environment quickly. The experience could make you a more eligible candidate for future nursing jobs.
Most RNs sign on with a travel nurse recruiter like LeaderStat that will search for your travel nursing jobs, manage your travel, and facilitate compliance while you focus on providing top-notch care for your patients. Search for our current open assignments here.
A travel nurse must be an RN in good standing with an active license and, ideally, at least two years’ experience. Travel nurses must have licensure in every state that they practice, but can avoid the time and cost of obtaining individual licenses by acquiring a multistate license via the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows nurses to practice in all NLC states (there are currently 29 participating states: see below). Note: you must be a resident of an NLC state to obtain the multistate license.
Other documentation required: copies of your licenses (professional and driving); documentation of (current) vaccines, appropriate titer results, PPD tests, a physician statement; and Basic Life Support card.
Travel nurses must be able to jump in to a new environment and get up to speed quickly. They must have excellent clinical, analytical, and communication skills, a calm demeanor, the ability to work well within a team, and empathy for their patients.