Imagine using your nursing qualifications to travel across the country to different cities and destinations, meet new people, experience different work cultures, and enjoy the many perks of traveling. With travel nursing, you can do just that. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. But there are certainly some things you need to consider before making the switch to travel nursing. We’re here to answer your questions.
How exactly does travel nursing work?
Travel nurses are registered nurses who fill short-term positions in healthcare facilities around the world. These short-term roles exist for a variety of reasons — nurses out on maternity leave, a sudden need for more experienced nurses, a seasonal population fluctuation in any given town/city, or even a global pandemic. When a healthcare facility needs to fill those short-term roles, they work with a travel nurse staffing agency to hire travel nurses. And because travel nurses are employed by a staffing agency vs. a healthcare organization, they have the freedom and flexibility to choose where they want to work.
How long are travel nurse assignments?
It depends, both short-term and long-term travel nursing contracts exist. Most contracts are 13 weeks. But you can find contracts anywhere between eight and 26 weeks. In some circumstances, you may have the option to extend your contract. As the nationwide nursing shortage worsens, facilities are becoming more flexible with contract timelines.
How do I become a travel nurse?
As long as you are a registered nurse (RN), you can become a travel nurse without additional education or training. However, you must be licensed in any state where you choose to work. And many jobs want you to have at least one year of experience in the specialty you’ll be working in before starting. “Two years of experience is preferable, but we can usually get you placed in a position with one year of experience,” says Angela Hagan, recruitment operations manager at Maxim Healthcare Staffing.
What should I look for in a travel nursing agency?
“The recruiter makes the company,” says Hagan. “I tell people not to compare agencies, but instead compare recruiters. Find the best fit for you in terms of how you relate to your recruiter. It should feel like a true partnership, rather than just an employee/employer relationship.”
It’s also important to consider what benefits you need and/or value the most. Each agency is different in the benefits they offer, such as tuition reimbursement, health and dental insurance, vacation/sick time, etc.
Let’s talk salary. How much does travel nursing pay?
Currently the average range is anywhere between $85k and $110k annually. While salary depends on a variety of factors (location, specialty, etc.), you can expect to make more than your non-travel nurse counterpart. In addition to an hourly wage, travel nurses are eligible for allowances to cover housing, meals and incidentals while on their travel assignment away from their tax home. Travel nursing positions also provide more opportunities for overtime work and extra shifts compared to a typical, hospital-based nursing job.
Can I be a travel nurse if I have a family and/or pets? Can they travel with me?
Yes. But it requires more planning and preparation than traveling solo. You’ll want to consider childcare/pet care, nearby schools and the safety of both your housing and the surrounding area. The best way to prepare for a travel nursing career with your family and/or pets is to talk to other, more experienced travel nurses. Many nurses have found ways to make relocating a family easier, such as only traveling during the summer months to avoid changing schools. You should also get to know the area ahead of time and talk with your recruiter about your unique situation right away. They can help you plan accordingly and address any questions or concerns.
What does it take to be a successful travel nurse?
“Flexibility and preparation,” says James Glucksman, recruitment operations manager at Maxim Healthcare. “With the proper preparation, it can truly be one of the most amazing career paths available to nurses. Travel isn’t for everybody, and there is inherent risk involved in travel. Think about your family, social and financial situations. You need to be in the right position to take advantage of it, not just force it.”
“A good travel nurse is going to be adventurous,” says Hagan. “Make sure you have a sense of adventure along with that flexibility.”
What are the benefits of becoming a travel nurse?
“Part of the beauty of travel nursing is you have the opportunity to go to so many different places and different types of facilities, and you get to choose where you want to go,” says Glucksman. “There is such a variety of experiences available to you.”
“Many nurses tell me they are glad they no longer have to deal with the politics of a hospital or workplace,” says Hagan. “Since you’re just filling in for a few months, you don’t have much workplace drama.”
“Travel nursing gives you the ability to make more money in the place of your choosing,” says Glucksman. “You can let your creativity run wild in how you take advantage of that, like spending half a year living out of L.A. doing a part-time film school, and the other half go live in Seattle and sign up for art school. There is an endlessly creative aspect to travel nursing. If you’re in a position where you can take advantage of a nomad lifestyle, there are endless options for an incredible life.”
Ready to start your adventure into travel nursing? We’re hiring travel nurses across the country. View our current openings.