Travel Nursing 101 – Travel Nurse Career Guide

Travel Nurse Information

The healthcare industry has been growing and with the additional demand for health care professionals, come the need for more nurses. To fill this nurse shortage, travel nurses are required, and are among some of the less common healthcare positions out there, not many know what they do, who they are, some don’t know that they exist.

What is a travel nurse?

These nurses respond to a shortage in nurses, they usually work as temporary fill-ins for local nurses on sick or maternity leave. They will work at a location temporarily when they are needed and will move to different health facilities depending on the demand and supply of nurses on the various locations. Typical assignment length is 13 weeks, but they can spend anywhere from 8 to 52 weeks at any specific place.

Some advantages that only apply to these nurses is that they can choose where and when they will work, as they are always needed. There is no need to settle down since they will be moving locations every so often. This also gives them the flexibility of traveling, since they can be on vacation and working at the same time. Another benefit is that you can expect to earn competitive wages since not many people can fit the lifestyle, where you need to constantly travel to work. As a traveler, you will typically be able to get higher hourly rates than permanent employees at the same facility.

When it comes to job seeking, most will need to work with a travel nurse agency to get a job, and will often receive compensation for traveling, living accommodations and other reimbursements. Many agencies also provide continuing education courses for free.

What types of travel nursing exist?

There are several types of available travel nursing positions. One of the most popular is the travel nurse practitioner position, these professionals normally work in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, or even private offices. Usual duties include administering medicine, diagnosing and treating minor illnesses, patient care, and taking vital signs when needed.

However, travel nursing is not limited to one country. Those who enjoy traveling internationally can consider becoming an international travel nurse. This type of travel nursing has been preferred by those that wish to see the sites while working. There are many international agencies that can assist you in finding work outside your country, so that international travel nursing is not just a work trip but also a vacation.

The biggest disadvantage with travel nursing is that you will often need to leave your home, family and friends. Not many are capable of doing so, which is one of the reasons that international travel nursing is not a commonly sought after position.

What do travel nurses do?

They work on short-term assignments, such as providing physical therapy to individuals, filling the additional need for nurses in hospitals, medical clinics, home health, etc. Fortunately, the agency that you work for will often give you choices with different pay, location and duties.  Assignments on the job include performing physical examinations, proving health advice and information for patients, administering medication, supervising and direct patient care, and much more.

You may choose the assignment that will help meet your goals and expectations, whether it’s monetary gain, experience, or just helping those in need.

What are the requirements to be a travel nurse?

There are several requirements that need to be met before you can become a traveling nurse. Not only do you need a proper education, you will also need the proper training, and meet certain skills and qualifications. The majority of health facilities typically requires a minimum of 18 months of experience, this could extend to 6 years for LPN/LVN.  In addition, an individual who wants to go down this career path should have a flexible and positive attitude, be eager to learn new skills and quickly adapt to a new clinical setting.


This is considered to be the basic requirement needed to travel as a nurse. A registered nurse degree is an absolute requirement. Fortunately, there are three different ways you can get an RN degree. You can either attend a hospital-based nursing school, get an associate’s degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree. They vary in program length and have different methods of teaching. However, the core of the program will be the same. For registered nurses that wish to continue with their education, they can work towards a master’s degree where they can choose a specialty.


Many places will require some sort of hands-on training before they can even consider hiring you, so  having at least one year of post-graduation on-the-job training will open up several positions.

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In order to work across states, you need to pass the NCLEX-RN certification exam to receive your license. According to the multistate licensure agreement allows already registered nurses to work in other states other than the original, provided that they are up-to-date on all documents and requirements.  It is also very helpful to have a certification in your specialty, for example, Ambulatory Care Nurse, Medical-Surgical Nurse, Cardiac/Vascular Nurse etc.

Becoming a travel nurse is a unique experience since it isn’t the typical 9 to 5 job, you are constantly traveling every couple of weeks, and will have to get used to meeting new people. For some people, traveling the country or the world, is something they desire. Although it has its disadvantages, a traveling nurse receives several benefits that can make it quite an attractive career. Fortunately, if you decide that you have had enough traveling, you can always return to a regular nurse job since the requirements overlap each other.

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