What Is Travel Nursing?

Travel nursing allows registered nurses (RNs) to expand their nursing knowledge and expertise by working in a variety of healthcare environments and locations. Nurses can select jobs based on their climate preferences and the activities they like to engage in such as hiking, skiing or swimming. But, travel nursing is not just about destinations; it serves an important purpose. Travel nurses help fill vacancies domestically and internationally. With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and your license to practice, you can start a career in travel nursing.

What Is a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses carry out the same duties as RNs. However, their job responsibilities may vary according to their specialty.

Typically, travel nurses are employed by staffing agencies that place them in temporary assignments. They may work in positions that generally last 8 to 13 weeks.

What Is Travel Nursing?

The field of travel nursing was created to combat a shortage of nurses around the country, and to close gaps where nurses are needed to keep up with nurse to patient ratios. Openings in nursing may be due to nurses retiring, going on maternity leave or taking vacations.

What Is the Preparation Requirement for Travel Nurses?

Both ADN and BSN nurses have the required level of preparation for travel nurse positions. But, most employers may prefer BSN-prepared nurses. All travel nurse candidates must graduate from an accredited nursing program, hold a license to practice and have at least one year of clinical experience.

Why Is Travel Nursing Important?

The National Institute of Nursing Research links mandatory nursing staffing ratios to improved patient care, lower patient mortality, higher job satisfaction and fewer cases of burnout. Thus, travel nurses not only fill voids, they also help raise the number of positive patient outcomes.

What Are the Benefits of Working As a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses can work for short durations in spots they may not otherwise get to explore. Travel nurses often earn a higher average salary than many BSN-prepared nurses. ZipRecruiter reports that as of April 2019, the average annual pay for travel nurses is $92,734, while RNs with a BSN make $82,378. Other incentives may include:

  • Bonuses
  • Free housing
  • Health insurance
  • Retirement plans
  • Travel reimbursement

Where Can Travel Nurses Work?

Travel nurses may work in the United States or abroad. Usually, staffing agencies will assist nurses with procuring passports and work visas for international jobs. Common healthcare settings for travel nurses are:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Community health centers
  • Private practices
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Nursing homes

Do Nurses Need a License in Every State?

RNs who want to work around the country can streamline the hiring process with a multi-state nursing license. The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is a network sponsored by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing that allows nurses to practice in all participating states with one license. Nurses must still obtain licenses in non-compact states to qualify for nursing jobs.

What Qualities and Skills Help Travel Nurses Succeed?

Most importantly, you have to enjoy traveling and have the ability to make yourself comfortable in unfamiliar situations. And, you have to be able to adjust to different workflows, organizational methods and policies while connecting with new co-workers. In addition, nurses who choose to work in another country should be able to speak and understand the language. Successful travel nurses are effective communicators and problem-solvers. They are:

  • Adaptable
  • Collaborative
  • Compassionate
  • Flexible
  • Physically and emotionally strong

Travel nursing can be difficult, especially for nurses who work in foreign countries with scarce resources and in dangerous conditions. But, it can also be exciting, with many advantages such as competitive pay, generous healthcare coverage and better work/life balance.

If you are a nurse who likes to explore unknown places, meet new people and change workplaces, you may want to consider becoming a travel nurse. An online RN to BSN provides ADN-prepared nurses with a convenient and affordable way to complete a bachelor's degree. Taking this step to further their education prepares them for more job opportunities.

Learn more about the University of New Mexico's online RN to BSN program.


TravelNursing.com: Become a Travel Nurse Today

Nursing.org: Travel Nurse

National Institute of Nursing Research: Impact of Mandatory Nursing Staffing Levels on Patient Outcomes

NCSBN: Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)

Nurse Journal: Requirements to Become a Travel Nurse

ZipRecruiter: Average Salary of RN BSN Jobs

RegisteredNursing.org: What Is a Travel Nurse?

ZipRecruiter: Average Salary of Travel Nurse Jobs

TravelNursing.org: What Is a Travel Nurse?

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