All You Need to Know About Travel Nursing
By Bryan Christopher Warne, RN
Travel Nursing is a lucrative form of nursing for those nurses that can adapt well to new environments, people, and situations and still provide optimal healthcare for patients.
How Do I Become A Travel Nurse?
You can become a travel nurse in nearly every specialty of nursing (if not all) and while contract lengths can vary, the standard is usually 13 weeks at a time. Travel Nursing comes into the picture at hospitals when the need for additional staff beyond the full-time, part-time, and per diem employees reaches a certain threshold. There are periods when hospitals are in great need (i.e November and December) and will hire a fleet of staff nurses, but there can also be remnants of travel nurses that get to stick around year round. As stated before, while contracts are typically 13 weeks at a time, they are sometimes shortened or extended according to a healthcare facility’s staffing needs.
This is one of the main ways that your flexibility and adaptability comes in handy. You will be compensated for this flexibility monetarily, yet you may come to realize there are other things you must be willing to sacrifice in order for this to work well for you.
The reason this form of nursing is labelled as “Travel Nursing” is because you are away from home. You are in an area that you don’t live full time, that you do not consider your actual home or residence. This is one of the sacrifices you must make to fully embrace this nursing specialty. Co-mingled with this, you may live far from family, friends, and loved ones. In doing this, you may experience some loneliness, but you can also meet many new people and will soon have friends all over the country, or even all over the world.
While it may vary with different companies or facilities, a good rule of thumb would be to get about two years of nursing experience (at minimum) under your belt before pursuing travel nursing. The main reason for this is that you need to feel confident in your nursing abilities. You need to have created a routine of your own; after doing this, you can then adapt your practice into different each company’s standards and policies, as needed. A quality guideline to help form your practice would be to take a glance at the ANA’s Code of Ethics, because this would be expected of you wherever you go.
Benefits of becoming a travel nurse:
1. Personal freedom to move to locations that you’ve been wanted to visit or live
2. Monetarily advantageous, as your housing and often additional resources (i.e. food and/or gas) are paid for through stipends
3. Personal autonomy when it comes to your life in general and in your nursing practice (i.e. you are your own boss, in a very real way)
So, where do you sign up? Well, there are many companies that are teeming with individuals who want nothing more than to sign nurses to contracts. What is the benefit to this? You have the ability to choose. See the next article for tips and tricks to Travel Nursing.
Bryan Christopher Warne graduated from an accelerated nursing program in 2012. He began his nursing career in the Float Pool, gaining experience on units like Telemetry, Neuro, Renal, Pulmonary, Med-Surg, Ortho and Rehab. He is currently a travel nurse.