Travel nursing can be an exciting career opportunity! Travel nurses are usually Registered
Nurses (RNs), but may also be Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or even Certified Nursing
Assistants (CNAs). Travel nurses have great job flexibility, with the option to choose
what state or country they work in, the length of their assignment and the field in
which they work. Assignments can be in a neighboring city or as far away as another
country. Travel RNs are often hired to work in places where there is a nursing shortage,
so they may work in units that are short-staffed and very busy.
Travel Nurse Job Description
Travel nurse duties are much the same as RNs employed locally. They are responsible
for many aspects of patient care including taking vital signs, administering medications
and educating patients. They perform procedures such as dressing changes, establishing
intravenous lines and urinary catheterizations. RNs are responsible for delegating tasks
to LPNs and CNAs. In addition to the tasks performed by other RNs, travel RNs must be
quick to learn, be flexible and able to function independently. Because travel RNs
often fill a temporary assignment, there is not much time to orient the new nurse to
the unit or to do remedial teaching. Travel RNs are expected to be competent, highly-skilled
and fast working. Travel nursing assignments may range from six weeks to up to one year or
longer. Financial bonuses may be offered to nurses who choose to go to an area with a
severe nursing shortage or for agreeing to stay for another contact term.
Travel Nurse Training
Travel RNs are highly skilled, experienced nurses. They have a RN license with several
years of work experience. To begin a career as a RN, an associate's degree or bachelor's
degree must first be obtained. An associate's degree requires two years of post-high
school study while a bachelor's degree requires four years of post-high school study.
Degree programs can be found in local community colleges or universities. Many programs
now offer degrees that can be earned online. While the classroom component of nursing
education can be taught online, the hands-on clinical portion must be done in person.
Clinical experiences can be arranged at a local hospital for convenience. The number of
clinical hours required varies by state, but generally, 8 to 16 hours is required per week
school is in session. Upon successful completion of a degree program students are eligible
to sit for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing NCLEX-RN exam. Students who
pass the NCLEX-RN exam are eligible to apply for licensure in their particular state.
Travel nurses must obtain a nursing license is each state in which they plan to practice.
Twenty-four states participate in a multi-state agreement which allows a RN to practice
not only in his or her home state, but also other states in the party. These states are
considered compact states. RNs who are not licensed in a compact state will have to apply
for licensure by endorsement in the new state they are looking to work. There are no
specific training programs to become a travel nurse. Rather, nurses choose to gain work
experience in the field of their choosing. After several years of experience, nurses
are often ready for the challenging job of travel nursing.
Travel Nurse Salary
Travel RNs are often well paid. According to Payscale.com, a typical RN's salary in
2012 ranged from $41,027 to $79,438, with a median salary of $55,074. Travel RNs commonly
make more than regular RNs due to higher pay from the travel nursing agency and sign-on
bonuses. In addition, travel RNs typically have benefits regular RNs do not such as a
housing allowance, travel expense reimbursement and license renewal reimbursement.
Opportunities For Nursing Career Advancement
Travel RNs can choose to earn a graduate degree in nursing. Earning a master's or
doctorate degree in nursing can prepare the nurse to become an advanced practice nurse,
or nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioner programs are available across the country,
many with classes that are available online. While some classes may be available online,
clinical rotations must be completed in person, although they can often be arranged close
to home for convenience. Graduates of a master's or doctorate degree program can apply
for licensure as an advanced practice nurse in their respective state. Nurse practitioners
enjoy greater responsibility and autonomy which is reflected in their pay. According to
Payscale.com, in 2012 the salary for nurse practitioners ranged from $64,454 to $108,692
with a median salary of $84,365. Unlike RN licenses, there is no compact state agreement
that applies to advanced practice nurses. They must apply individually to each state
they in which they want to practice. Travel opportunities are available to nurse practitioners,
but on a more limited basis.
Travel nursing can be an exciting and rewarding career. It can also be challenging
and stressful, as the areas nurses are needed to work in are often understaffed and
the nurses are away from family and friends. Travel nursing is a great choice for RNs
who want to explore the country, see new locations and meet new people. Travel nursing
may be more difficult for a nurse with a family or other commitments that would make
it difficult to be gone on an assignment for several months. While there is no specific
training program to become a travel nurse, agencies often don't accept new graduates
and require several years of work experience. For an adventurous nurse looking for
the opportunity to travel and expand his or work horizons, travel nursing can be a
great career choice!