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How to Become a Travel Nurse – 5 Step by Step Guide

Knowing the correct steps to how to become a travel nurse can be a challenge. 

There are many ways you can get paid well to travel. Traveling for a living does not have to come from the typical hand-to-mouth existence of nomadic travel so many travel writers opt for.  

Instead of taking on odd jobs as a means of supporting yourself while you see the world, how about opting for a well-paid, exciting, and rewarding career instead?

What does a Travel Nurse do?

Travel nursing is an exciting career. But of course, it requires education. Registered nurses have the opportunity of doing what they love most. They do so while traveling around the country or the world.

As a traveling nurse, your responsibility is to fill in for nurses who are on sick leave, absent or maternity leave. Also, travel nurses are called upon when a hospital is experiencing a shortage of staff. Apart from traveling and helping patients, traveling nurses get to meet interesting people.

Your step by step guide on how to become a travel nurse

travel nurse how to

First Step – Earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing

The first step towards a travel nursing career is earning a degree – Bachelor of Science in Nursing. To earn your degree, find a college or university that offers the course. Make sure that the institution is accredited and recognized by relevant authorities and boards.

Earning your nursing degree can begin right after high school. 

Once you enroll in a college or university that offers a nursing degree, your career as a travel nurse has begun. 

Have a degree in a different field and now you want to change careers and become a travel nurse? Join an accelerated program to earn your nursing degree!

Second Step – Meet all requirements

Apart from earning a degree in nursing, there are other requirements one must fulfill. If these requirements are not met, it will be hard for agencies to offer you opportunities.

So, to ensure that travel nursing opportunities are available, you need to meet the following requirements:

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  • Be a registered nurse
  • Must pass relevant exams- the National Council Licensure Examination. This is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

What you need to know is that the exam above is divided into 4 main categories and 6 sub-categories: 

  • Reduction of Risk Potential
  • Basic Care and Comfort
  • Management of Care
  • Safety and Infection Control
  • Pharmacological and Parental Therapies
  • Safe and Effective Care Environment

Remember, you must pass the exam above to be licensed as a Registered Nurse in the US.

Third Step – Gain real-world experience

Now that you have graduated, its time to earn some real-world experience.

This means working at a hospital within your area or in another state. Working at the hospital gives you the opportunity of collaborating with other professionals.

As you go about your duties, you learn how to respond to emergencies, and about teamwork.

It is recommended that you should work for at least 2 years to gain real-world experience.

During the first year, you will work as a registered nurse. For the second year, concentrate on specialties. They include: 

  • ICU
  • ER
  • PEDS
  • NICU
  • PICU
  • TELE
  • PostPartum
  • Home Health
  • Mother & Baby
  • PCU

Fourth Step: Connect with Nationally recognized Nursing Organizations

Nursing organizations offer opportunities to nurses to help them grow.

First and foremost, they host educational events where nurses meet and network. They also make available journals and magazines. These publications contain vital information meant to inform and educate nurses.

By doing this, they ensure nurses across the country are well versed with emerging trends.

There are nursing organizations that offer certification programs to nurses. These certifications are very important. They help to educate and train nurses in specific areas.

A few examples of nursing organizations include: 

  • Travel Nursing
  • National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations
  • Travelers Haven

Fifth Step: Send your application to a Travel Nursing Agency

To find travel nursing opportunities, connect with staffing agencies. Such agencies offer many job opportunities. So, you have the opportunity of comparing options.

Working with a staffing agency also means enjoying benefits. They include housing, travel reimbursement, healthcare, retirement, and others.

From the opportunities offered, you can select where you want to work. What you need to know is that assignments for travel nurses last between 8 to 20 weeks.

Some hospitals may offer extensions, and this depends on the amount of work at hand. Once you select an assignment, fill the necessary paperwork.

Remember to ask the staffing agency about compact Registered Nursing licenses. This license allows you to work in several states without the need for a special license. If you don’t have a compact license, apply for a state license.

guide to travel nursing

Final Thoughts

Staffing agencies are looking for nurses with certain qualities. They include excellent communication skills, a thorough understanding of nursing and social skills.

Also, they look for nurses who are flexible and adaptable. Why? Traveling nurses should be ready to accept jobs within a moment’s notice.

Remember, having a positive attitude and learning quickly enables you to achieve success as a travel nurse.

travel nurse stethoscope

Sources & References

everynurse.org

allnursingschools.org

travelnursing.org

nursejournal.org

gmercyu.edu

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