How to Kickstart as A Travel Nurse
When healthcare institutions face shortages in staff, they turn to travel nurses to fill the gaps. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics directs that 2020 had a shortage of about 1.1 million nurses. In addition, the exhausted and demoralized staff nurses are retiring and quitting faster, creating staffing shortages. Most of these nurses opt for a career in travel nursing since it offers flexibility and good pay.
While there are great opportunities for skilled nurses in the healthcare sector, only a few can compare to travel nursing. Healthcare organizations hire travel nurses to fill gaps where there are nurse shortages or patient demand fluctuations. If you’re looking for a fulling nursing career, a travel nurse is an ideal path to charter.
What Is a Travel Nurse?
Travel nursing is an old profession but has gained popularity recently. A travel nurse is a skilled, registered nurse with a clean clinical background assigned temporarily for a nursing role. These professionals are typically hired by independent nursing staffing agencies.
The contract is usually 13 weeks, but it can also be shorter or longer depending on the situation. But there are some instances when the assignment can take about 26 weeks. However, you can choose the length and location of your appointment.
Travel nursing provides nurses with immense opportunities to work with different prestigious practitioners and doctors. While gaining exposure to different climates and patients, a travel nurse learns other nurse leadership practices.
Top-High Demand Travel Nurse Specialties
Nurses want their specialty and skillset to be a top-high demand. This is what in the travel nursing industry, as it gives you a higher salary, more opportunities, and job security. Once you acquire experience, your chances of getting hired increase.
Here are the most sort out travel nurse specialties.
PCU and ICU
The progressive care unit (PCU) training is less vigorous or demanding compared to ICU. But you still offer care to the patient who requires close attention. As a PCU nurse, you’ll be responsible for recording the progress and recovery of patients. Hence, you need to be a meticulous, observant nurse.
The intensive care unit (ICU) is a highly respected nursing position. The ICU nurses are required to pass the NCLEX-RN and obtain a license with a one-year experience in travel nursing. You must also acquire a BLS/CPR certification, and becoming critical care registered nurse is recommended.
Taking roles in medical-surgical gives you solid footing as an R.N. Being a multi-tasker with excellent knowledge of diseases and their symptoms will position you in medical-surgical roles. For example, as a medical nurse, you’ll administer I.V.s, monitor patients recently released, and dress wounds, among other roles.
Surgery is the largest source of revenue in any healthcare facility. It’s also one of the best-paying roles for travel nurses. So, being an operating room nurse is a specialty to consider. Your roles include:
- Assist surgeons during procedures
- Care for patients pre and post-procedure.
- Documenting throughout the surgical process.
- You can make incisions and suture layers of the surgical wounds but under supervision.
L&D, NICU, and MBPP
Becoming an L&D nurse is quite intensive as it requires you first to be an MBPP nurse. You also need to be a certified Basic Life Support specialist.
A specialist in women’s health has a higher chance of getting employed as a travel nurse. Empathy and patience will propel your career, especially in NICU. This allows you to work with fathers, mothers, and babies.
This is quite similar to medical surgical nursing. You’ll also work with various patients of different ages and conditions. Travel nursing in telemetry is suitable for decisive people. Besides, tele nurses care for terminally ill patients and record, monitor, and interpret data for precise assessment of the patients.
E.R. nursing has always been in demand. You’re likely to come in contact with acute injuries and life-threatening conditions. You’re required to be quick on your feet and a swift response to situations.
Demand for this travel nurse specialties is excellent. First, however, you must choose the area you’re passionate about.
What Does a Travel Nurse Do?
The professionals in travel nursing are responsible for going to different locations to provide assistance and care. Your responsibilities include:
- Addressing patient’s concerns
- Traveling to patients’ schools, homes, and other institutions to administer vaccinations and conduct tests.
- Monitoring and recording patients’ overall wellbeing
- Helping in surgery rooms
- Performing wound inspections and dressing.
6 Steps to Become a Travel Nurse
Travel nursing gives you endless opportunities of traveling around the nation while gaining experience. If you’ve chosen to be a travel nurse, here is a simplified procedure for achieving your nursing goal.
1. Complete the Required Education
Just like any other medical career, becoming a travel nurse requires you to have a high school diploma. In addition, you should complete your nursing program at an accredited college. To become a registered travel nurse, you must undertake NCLEX examination with ASN or ADN
You can complete these degrees within two or three years, depending on your study mode. But many healthcare organizations now prefer candidates with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing compared to ASN or AND.
Taking an associate’s degree prepares you for entry-level nursing. These programs are less expensive and take less time to complete than a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, a bachelor’s degree prepares you beyond the basic nursing curriculum. With a BSN, you’ll gain additional critical thinking and leadership skills.
You should then consider this trend as you undertake your travel nursing education.
2. Pass Your NCLEX Exams
Nursing practice is not static, necessitating a reevaluation of passing standards periodically. The current passing standard of NCLEX is -0.18 logits.
To pass your examination, ensure you understand the NCLEX format. More so, be comfortable with your study style. For example, if you grasp concepts well with visuals, drawing put rough sketches will enable you to pass the exams.
If discussions help you understand concepts better, create an active study group. But the general rule is to utilize mnemonic devices to help you grasp complex matters. Instead, try connecting ideas and learning from a holistic approach.
Once you pass NCLEX, you’ll become a registered nurse.
3. Gain Nursing Experience
Exposure gives you the necessary experience in your specialization. In addition to obtaining state licensing, you must become certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Basic Life Support. You’ll need additional licensing if you choose to explore a particular field.
Most health facilities require you to have at least one year of experience in your field of specialization. Remember, being a travel nurse is all about filling gaps in emergencies. So, organizations often need someone who’ll start working immediately.
So how do you gain experience?
Explore internship opportunities
Consider exploring internship programs to help you develop industry knowledge. You can learn more about healthcare facilities and organizations. In most cases, internship opportunities lead to connections that lead to future jobs.
Internships help you meet career mentors, test drive your chosen specialty, and boost your resume. Start searching for an internship while in school or immediately after completing the education program.
Look for volunteer opportunities
Volunteer programs are great for any aspiring travel nurse. You can consider opportunities at a local clinic, hospital, or healthcare facility. You can work after school or during the summer months or or work. Being a volunteer shows you’re compassionate about your job, which boosts your chances of getting hired as a travel nurse.
Consult your network
Your existing network can be of great help when it comes to nursing experience. Consider consulting professionals for career advice. These experts can recommend and connect you with reliable travel nursing agencies for work. You might consider your friends, family, professors, and teachers.
Explore related positions
As you seek to gain experience, ensure you apply for related positions. You can gain experience through data-entry clerks or lab assistants. These healthcare positions provide industry knowledge you can use to get started as a travel nurse.
Join a mentorship program
Mentorship programs are great for boosting your industry knowledge and networking. These programs match aspiring nurses with experienced and skilled professionals in the healthcare arena. A mentor answers critical questions and can recommend you for a role in the future.
Consider summer jobs
Boost your professional nursing experience by undertaking summer jobs. The standard summer jobs, such as caregiver, lab assistant, or camp nurse, are excellent.
But as you seek to gain experience, you must consider your interest. For instance, if you like working with kids, you may consider working as a camp counselor. Choosing a program you care about helps you enjoy your role.
Try to build network connections. Meeting and interacting with professionals can help you find a new role. Besides, staying flexible and patient will go a long way in a travel nursing career.
4. Obtain a Compact Nursing License
The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact is incredibly convenient and valuable for travel nurses. This license allows nurses to practice their specialties across the country without obtaining an additional license.
The requirements to get a compact nursing license include:
- You must be actively licensed as an LVN, R.N, or LPN.
- Meet the criteria for licensure within your primary state
- You must reside in your eNLC state.
Visit the Board of Nursing website to obtain the license by an endorsement through an exam. Through the website, you’ll find the list of nursing compact states. However, you might find that some states are not listed. Some have pending legislation, so you shouldn’t panic.
5. Apply Through a Reliable Travel Nurse Staffing Agency
Finding a reliable travel nurse company can be unnerving. First, you must evaluate the support services, jobs, and benefits. The more contracts the agency gets, the higher the chance of getting a job.
The agency should have diversified assignments in leading healthcare facilities. For example, some of the largest travel nursing agencies have staffing contracts for the most prestigious medical centers.
· Check satisfied clients
Talk to fellow nursing colleagues and get invaluable information about the agency. Read reviews and testimonials on social media pages and their websites. Read accounts of other hired travel nurses.
A reliable agency will list the average pay of the advertised jobs. Some companies package nontaxable and taxable monies differently. So take your time to understand the enlisted benefits. When asking about benefits, know when your coverage starts and if the company will cater to licensing fees.
· Friendly and knowledgeable recruiters
A friendly recruiter is the most critical factor to the success of a travel nursing career. Ensure you ask the recruiters many questions and interview them as well. You want to find out their offer and plans for you.
It’s essential to establish a relationship and build rapport. Travel nursing recruiters serve as your advocate, sounding board, and partner in the nursing journey.
· Industry longevity and expertise matters
A longstanding staffing agency has vast knowledge, expertise, and connections in the industry. Their professionalism is unrivaled, and they offer stellar services. Working with industry experts will help you get job placements in prestigious healthcare centers.
6. Get Ready for the Assignment
Once you submit the application, recruiters will check your credential, experience, and area of specialization for the ideal assignment. Some companies require you to fill out the submission documents, which are hectic.
Instead, apply through an app at Marvel Medical Staffing for a hassle-free submission.
Gather your paperwork in advance, especially certifications and licenses. It’s common for healthcare facilities to consider candidates with the required paperwork. While agencies can cover the cost of medical records, having your medical records in order is recommended.
At this point, you’re ready to undertake your new role as a travel nurse. The process includes an interview and signing a contract. Be sure to read the terms of the agreement and compensation.
What Will Make You a Good Travel Nurse?
Getting your licenses and certifications sounds excellent? But is travel nursing right for you? A few characteristics will help you excel in a brand-new location.
Confidence – You’ll be a guest in a location you’ve never been before. It means different working colleagues and bosses. But you shouldn’t lose your confidence. A good travel nurse should display confidence to make you feel secure.
Flexibility – Flexibility is a core value recruiters consider for a traveling nurse. You need to be flexible about jobs and locations. Are you ready to work long hours?
While it pays to work anywhere, you must be flexible with your housing, facilities, and work schedule. Apparently, when you become picky, you’ll create unique opportunities.
Compassion – Travel nursing is about filling gaps when healthcare facilities desperately need help. You could work during a pandemic or care for people with acute injuries. As a travel nurse, you may also work with seniors and children.
Whatever the case, being accommodating and understanding is the least your patients need.
Being Positive – Staying positive even when away from home and loved ones can be an arduous task. Being in unfamiliar territory can be harsh, but maintaining a positive attitude will help you sail. Always look to help out by going above and beyond.
Adaptability – The reality is; that things will not always happen as planned. Sometimes you’ll have your routine thrown off and experience many variables. Instead of letting things upset you, accept that things can change at the last minute.
Benefits of Working as A Travel Nurse
A career as a travel nurse is fulfilling and rewarding. You’ll enjoy meeting new people, learning new skills, and working in various hospitals. Some of the travel nursing benefits include:
You Get to Travel
That’s why it’s called traveling nursing! Some nurses prefer getting bitten by a travel bug to getting stuck in a rut. With the appropriate educational requirements and licensing, you can work anywhere in the country.
You also explore different scenes during your free time. The possibilities are endless.
According to Indeed report, the average annual pay for a travel nurse is $108,070. On the other side, a staff nurse earns about $64,604, meaning a travel nurse makes almost double. Along with higher wages, you’ll also earn bonuses and other incentives.
Work in Diverse Settings
New working opportunities come with new learning and procedures. You can work in:
- Urgent care
- Large city hospitals
- University hospitals; and
- Rural hospitals
You can meet and make new connections while learning different skills. In addition, you can enhance your resume by working with a reputable clinic or hospital.
Kickstart Your Travel Nursing Career with Marvel Medical Staffing
Marvel Medical Staffing is a reliable agency, ready to support you at every step. So whether you want to travel more or look for your first assignment, we have your back.
Our primary objective is to provide a chance where you can explore your full potential as a travel nurse. The application process is free, seamless, and straightforward—experience professionalism as we make your journey a success.
You’ll fill in your personal and educational information, submit it, and a recruiter will reach out.