I am confident you are here because you want to know and learn about the step-by-step approach relating to how to become a travel nurse.
However, it remains of utmost importance to first and foremost understand who a travel nurse is.
Who is a travel nurse?
A travel nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who works on short-term assignments in various healthcare facilities.
Travel nurses are typically hired through staffing agencies that specialize in healthcare placements.
The primary role of a travel nurse is to provide nursing care and support to patients in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare settings.
They have the same responsibilities and scope of practice as regular staff nurses, but they have the added flexibility to work in different locations and gain diverse experiences.
Who needs the services of a travel nurse?
Travel nurses are highly sought after in regions or facilities that are experiencing nursing shortages or increased patient demands. They help to fill temporary staffing gaps and maintain adequate patient care levels.
These professionals may be assigned to work in various departments, such as medical-surgical, intensive care, emergency, pediatric, or labor and delivery, depending on their skills and experience.
One of the main advantages of being a travel nurse is the opportunity to explore different parts of the country or even internationally. They can experience different healthcare systems, work with diverse patient populations, and gain exposure to various nursing practices.
Travel nurses also enjoy competitive compensation packages, which often include higher pay rates, free housing or housing stipends, travel allowances, and benefits like health insurance.
To become a travel nurse, individuals must first complete their nursing education and obtain their RN license.
Some travel nursing positions may require additional certifications or specialized skills depending on the assignment.
Since you have waited until this point, let us quickly delve into the step-by-step approach to the right route to becoming a travel nurse.
Qualities of a good travel nurse
To be a successful and effective travel nurse, there are several qualities that can contribute to your professional growth and overall satisfaction in the role.
Travel nurses frequently work in different healthcare settings, which may have varying protocols, procedures, and patient populations.
Being adaptable and flexible allows you to quickly adjust to new environments, work well with different healthcare teams, and provide quality care regardless of the circumstances.
- Excellent Communication Skills
Effective communication is crucial for travel nurses. You must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with patients, their families, fellow healthcare professionals, and staff members.
Good communication helps build trust, ensures proper coordination, and enhances patient outcomes.
- Clinical Competence
As a travel nurse, you should possess a strong foundation of clinical knowledge and skills. This includes staying up to date with the latest evidence-based practices, being proficient in nursing procedures, and demonstrating sound judgment in clinical decision-making.
Continual professional development and a commitment to lifelong learning are essential to maintain clinical competence.
- Problem-Solving Abilities
Travel nurses often encounter unique challenges in their assignments. Being able to think critically, problem-solve, and make quick decisions in high-pressure situations is important.
You should be resourceful, proactive, and able to navigate unfamiliar healthcare environments effectively.
- Flexibility and Resilience
Travel nursing can involve long hours, demanding schedules, and exposure to emotionally challenging situations.
Having a flexible mindset and being resilient can help you adapt to the demands of the job, cope with stress, and maintain a positive attitude. It’s essential to prioritize self-care and seek support when needed.
- Cultural Competence
This is one of the cardinal qualities a travel nurse should possess. Travel nursing provides the opportunity to work with diverse patient populations and healthcare teams.
Being culturally competent involves respecting and valuing different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and practices. It allows you to provide patient-centered care, foster trust, and promote effective communication with individuals from various cultures.
Demonstrating professionalism is vital in any nursing role. This includes being punctual, maintaining a professional appearance, upholding ethical standards, respecting patient confidentiality, and collaborating effectively within the healthcare team.
How to Become a travel nurse
Education and Licensing Requirements
- Education Requirements:
- Most travel nursing positions require a minimum of an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). However, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is becoming increasingly preferred by many healthcare facilities.
- You must complete a nursing program from an accredited institution, which includes both theoretical coursework and clinical experience.
- It is important to note that some specialized areas, such as critical care or operating room nursing, may require additional certifications or training.
- Licensure Requirements:
- To practice as a nurse in the United States, you must obtain a nursing license in the state(s) where you plan to work. Each state has its own Board of Nursing that establishes the requirements for licensure.
- Typically, you need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. The NCLEX-RN is a standardized exam that tests the knowledge and skills necessary for safe and effective nursing practice.
- Some states may have additional requirements, such as a criminal background check or fingerprinting.
- Special Certifications:
- While not always mandatory, having additional certifications can enhance your employability as a travel nurse and may lead to higher-paying assignments.
- The most common certification for travel nurses is the Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, which demonstrates proficiency in CPR and other life-saving techniques.
- Other certifications relevant to specific specialties or areas of practice, such as Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) or Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), may be required or preferred depending on the assignment.
Gain Experience as a Nursing
- Acquire clinical experience: Work in a hospital, clinic, or healthcare facility to develop essential nursing skills and knowledge.
- Specialize in a specific area: Consider focusing on a specialty, such as emergency care, pediatrics, or critical care, to enhance your expertise.
Research Travel Nursing Agencies
- Identify reputable agencies: Look for agencies that specialize in travel nursing and have a good track record of placing nurses in various locations.
- Check for proper accreditation: Ensure that the agencies you consider are accredited by organizations such as the Joint Commission.
Apply for Travel Nursing Jobs
- Submit applications: Apply for travel nursing positions that match your preferences and qualifications through your chosen agencies.
- Attend interviews: Participate in interviews conducted by the agencies or potential employers to demonstrate your skills and suitability for the positions.
Coordinate Travel Arrangements
- Secure housing: Determine if the agency provides housing or assist with finding suitable accommodations near the assignment location.
- Plan transportation: Make arrangements for travel to and from your assignments, considering factors like distance and cost.
Understand Contractual Obligations
- Review contracts carefully: Thoroughly read and understand the terms and conditions of your travel nursing contracts before signing.
- Clarify expectations and responsibilities: Discuss the work schedule, compensation, and any additional requirements with the agency and healthcare facility.
How to Become a travel nurse in Canada
Most people agree that Canada is a good location for travel nurses. The healthcare system in Canada is renowned for its excellent standards of care, and the nation provides a range of options for healthcare workers, including travel nursing jobs.
It’s important to keep in mind that travel nursing jobs in Canada frequently call for a specific set of credentials and authorizations, including a nursing degree and registration with the relevant provincial or territorial nursing regulating organization.
Researching the particular requirements, licensing procedures, and employment landscape in the province or territory where you intend to operate is also crucial.
Websites where travel nurses can find housing or accommodation
Below, you will find the Most Popular Traveling nurse housing websites;
- Corporate Housing by Owner (CHBO)
- Extended Stay America
- Furnished Finder
- Gypsy Nurse
- Nurse Housing
- Travel Nurse Housing
- Travelers Haven
- VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner)
Salaries of travel nurses in the USA and Canada
Salaries for travel nurses in the USA and Canada can vary depending on several factors, including the specific location, experience level, specialty, and demand for healthcare professionals in the area.
Annual Salary range of travel nurses in the United States:
In the USA, travel nurses often earn higher salaries compared to staff nurses due to the additional benefits and compensation packages offered to attract healthcare professionals to temporary positions.
The average pay for travel nurses in the USA ranges from $70,000 to $120,000 per year. However, this can vary significantly depending on factors such as the cost of living in the area and the nurse’s experience level and specialty as explained earlier.
Some travel nursing positions may also include additional benefits such as housing stipends, travel allowances, and healthcare coverage.
Annual Salary range of travel nurses in Canada
In Canada, travel nurses typically earn competitive salaries, but they may be lower compared to those in the USA due to the differences in healthcare systems and compensation structures.
The average pay for travel nurses in Canada ranges from $70,000 to $100,000 CAD per year. The exact salary can vary depending on the province or territory, experience level, specialty, and the specific job offer.
It’s worth noting that the cost of living in Canada may differ significantly between regions, which can impact the overall financial situation for travel nurses.
8 Top Specialties for travel nurses
Travel nurses can work in various specialties, depending on their qualifications, experience, and the demand in different healthcare settings. See below for some of these specialties travel nurses can work;
- Critical Care/Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
ICU nurses care for patients with life-threatening conditions who require specialized monitoring and treatment.
They work in intensive care units, providing advanced care, managing complex medical equipment, and supporting critically ill patients and their families.
- Emergency Department (ED)
ED nurses work in emergency rooms, handling patients with acute injuries or illnesses. They assess and triage patients, provide initial treatments, administer medications, and coordinate care with other healthcare professionals.
Pediatric nurses specialize in providing care to infants, children, and adolescents. They work in hospitals, clinics, and pediatric specialty units, addressing the unique physical, emotional, and developmental needs of young patients.
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN)
OB/GYN nurses care for women throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. They assist with prenatal visits, support labor and delivery, provide postpartum care, and educate patients on reproductive health.
- Operating Room (OR)
OR nurses work in surgical settings, assisting surgeons during procedures, ensuring a sterile environment, and monitoring patients throughout the operation. They specialize in various surgical areas, such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, or cardiovascular surgery.
Oncology nurses provide specialized care to patients diagnosed with cancer. They work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and specialized cancer treatment centers, administering chemotherapy, managing symptoms, and providing emotional support.
- Psychiatric/Mental Health
Psychiatric nurses care for patients with mental health disorders. They work in psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers, or community mental health clinics, conducting assessments, administering medications, and facilitating therapeutic interventions.
A final thought on How to Become a travel nurse
To follow this career path as a travel nurse, one must meet all educational and licensing criteria, accumulate essential clinical experience, and establish contacts with recognized travel nursing organizations.
Additionally, it’s important to get qualifications, develop a professional network, and maintain flexibility and adaptability.
Aspiring travel nurses can start a fulfilling path of providing care across borders by embracing cultural competency and making plans in advance.