traveling nurse

What Is A Traveling Nurse?

traveling nurseKeeping it simple, a traveling nurse is a nurse that travels to various assignments. In order to provide more, and hopefully some useful, information, let’s discuss what a traveling nurse does in some detail.

To combat the nursing shortage, traveling nurses will travel to work temporary short term assignments locally and/or away from their hometown to fill the gap wherever professional nurses are needed.

The Professional Association of Nurse Travelers is a non-profit organization that represents nurse travelers in the United States.

Traveling nurses typically sign up with one or several placement agencies to select and/or receive assignments. Some nurses also forego the use of placement agencies and work as independent contractors dealing directly with Healthcare Institutions, e.g. Hospitals and clinics.

Traveling nurses enjoy the freedom to choose when and where they work giving them the ability to take time off when needed that they would not ordinarily have with a permanent employer.

Inside the United States, assignments normally last from four to thirteen weeks and up to twenty six weeks. Outside of the United States, one to two year assignments are typical.

As an added bonus, travel nurses in most instances are allowed to bring family, and pets with them to their assignment locations. Travel nurses should make it known that they have these needs, to their TDY Employer or agency recruiter, so arrangements can be made for accommodations. Separate pet deposits may be required so be prepared for that, and sometimes the deposit is not covered by your agency and must be paid out of pocket.

Traveling Nurses typically enjoy a higher pay rate and in a lot of cases earning well over $50.00 per hour. Their typical annual salary is around $75,000 +. Normally, pay rate will depend on the facility, location and clinical specialty, but the pay rates are generally higher than for equally experienced permanent staff. Many of the top travel nurse companies offer 401(k) programs, employer matching and a few even offer immediate eligibility. Many travel nursing companies offer bonuses, including sign-on, completion and referral bonuses, as well as other incentives. Be sure to ask your staffing company for the details on their particular bonus and incentive programs. Also, the top travel nurse companies offer free, continuing education courses to travelers who are on assignment and discounted rates to travelers who are not currently on assignment.

Typical requirements for becoming a travel nurse are, in addition to being licensed, a minimum of 1.5 years of verifiable clinical experience with at least One year experience in the particular specialty they are seeking travel nurse assignments in. Educational requirements include at least an associate’s degree in nursing, as well as a current registered-nurse license. Have a current RN license in the state you plan to work.

Some states are starting to offer interstate compacts. An Interstate compact is an agreement to honor your RN license from the state you are currently licensed in. This is not a universal program and some state nursing boards have reservations about these programs due to issues with regulation and oversight of the programs. But it is worth checking to see if the state you will be working in will agree to honor the license you hold in a neighboring state. The potential savings are worth the effort.

You should be current on all immunizations including a recent TB test. Some travel nurse agencies require that you have a physical exam and statement from a doctor or other healthcare provider stating that you are physically able to perform the duties of a nurse.

You should be current in all the certifications that your specialty requires. For example, if you are an ER nurse you must have ACLS, TNCC, and CPR and sometimes PALS depending on the ER. You must pass a pre-employment drug screening and pass a criminal background check. Having a crime on your record will not bar you from being employed. As a general rule of thumb if you are able to pass the state screening to receive an RN license then you should not have a problem. However, check with the agency just to be sure.

Have three solid references. A good idea is to include at least 2 recent past supervisors on your reference list as many agencies want to hear from at least one of your past supervisors. You must get past a basic interview.  Most facilities will have the manager you will be working for call you and interview you over the telephone.  They are trying see if you will fit in with their team.  Be ready to talk about what a team player you are and what your skills are.

The added benefit of being able to travel around the Country or World for that matter, for their work gives a travel nurse the chance to enjoy working in places their permanent based cohorts would not normally be able to enjoy except for a vacation. In addition in almost all cases, travel and living expenses are included in the job, so a travel nurse enjoys free travel and free rent at their assignment location allowing them to save money and focus on working and enjoying the place they are on assignment at.

Travel nursing assignments cover a variety of scenarios such as: Basic Travel, Rapid Response, Labor Strikes, Flight Nurses, and EMR Conversions.

Typical responsibilities of a Travel Nurse are, caring for patients who cannot leave their homes due to their health, which includes administering medical care and monitoring patients needs, record information into patients medical records, recording medical histories and symptoms, performing diagnostic tests and coordinate patient care with other hospital departments and or Specialty Doctor’s Offices. As well as providing advice and emotional support to patients’ family members. Schools also employ Travel Nurses to attend to and administer medication to specific students.

The number of hours a travel nurse may work depends on the health care facility they work for and the agreements made between them. Some of the most common hour rotations travel nurses have been known to work includes; 8 hour, 10 hour and 12 hour rotations where they will work either Five 8 hour shifts, Four 10 hour shifts or Three 12 hour shifts per week.

Travel nurses play an important role in helping to fill the nursing shortage throughout the U.S.  If this is something that you are looking into, it would make  lot of sense to speak to other traveling nurses that are already working assignments, and to learn from their experiences.

If you are currently a traveling nurse, we would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. If you are curious about the profession, we welcome your questions. Feel free to drop a comment below.

Follow Me

George Tall

Author at Hug Your Nurse
George Tall works in the legal field, is a father of three, and a husband of a RN for 25 years. He enjoys writing about everything, especially nursing! He has been writing for a living, at least partially, since around 2000. As an author on dozens of websites, he enjoys being factual, while spinning a bit of humor where possible.
Follow Me

Latest posts by George Tall (see all)

One thought on “What Is A Traveling Nurse?

  1. kim

    Anyone ever worked as a travel nurse or on a contract to the middle east? Can someone give me some advise on where to get more info? I’m thinking about Saudi Arabia. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *