Finding a Career in Travel Nursing

Posted On February 25, 2013

travel nursing career

The major appeal is the adventure. Sure, there are many advantages to being a travel nurse such as great pay, flexibility, and the experience of finding out how hospitals in other states run their operations. But the major thing is the adventure. It’s about visiting new locations all over the country, discovering new things about the world and within yourself. If you like making money while avoiding the trappings of a regular full-time job like politics and stagnation, then it’s probably a good idea to consider travel nursing.

So who makes the best type of traveler?

If you want to become a successful travel nurse, then you have to have good acute care hospital experience. If you look at most travel nursing job postings, you’ll notice that most staffing firms require a minimum of two years’ experience. And that’s by design. Facilities offer travelers limited orientation. The expectation is that travel nurses that they hire should be able to hit the ground running.

If you want to give travel nursing a try but have little to no experience as a traveler, then getting that first assignment is a challenge. Facilities typically get travelers with multiple assignments under their belt so expect the competition going into travel nursing to be high.

The good news is that finding assignments will get easier the more assignments you finish. But keep your expectations in check when searching for that first assignment. This means that you might not get your ideal location from the get-go. Of course, since an assignment typically lasts for only thirteen weeks, is it really so bad if your first assignments aren’t in your desired locations? In other words, if you want a rewarding career in travel nursing you need to be flexible.

Another thing to think about when considering a travel nursing career is nursing licenses. There are certain states that are in a compact agreement with each other, which means that if you have a license in one of these states and it is your permanent residence, you can also work in the other states in the compact license agreement without having to get that other states license. Having a license within the compact states opens up many more options for travelers.

If you are only licensed in one state and it is not part of the compact agreement, then it may take more time to find a position and to actually start one because you will have to obtain a license in that particular state. There are some facilities in certain states such as Massachusetts, Washington, California, Oregon and New Hampshire that will not even consider you for a position unless you have a license in hand for that particular state because it takes so long to obtain the license and those facilities that are posting a position need the traveler immediately, not two months down the road.

Nurses who are open to location, shift, and have either a compact license or multiple licenses can write their own ticket. They will enjoy the opportunity of being able to spend a summer along the coast of North Carolina, stand in awe of the amazing cherry blossoms in the spring in the District of Columbia, enjoy the fall leaves of New Hampshire or see if Alaska is really that bad in the winter.

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