Travel Nursing can be a rewarding career that allows nurses the ability to travel to different states or countries while making more money and undergoing new experiences depending on the nursing state you hail from. If you are ready to begin this journey or are interested in learning more, this article will help you get started! Here are 6 steps on how to become a travel nurse adventurer.
I wanted to provide you with a quick start guide on How to Become a Travel Nurse.
Step One: What Requirements Do I Need Prior to Start Travel Nursing
Prior to starting travel nursing, there are some requirements you must meet when seeking positions within the career.
- A minimum of 1 to 2 years of experience in your specialty. Most travel agencies will accept 1 year of experience depending on the specialty; however, I would recommend you obtain 2 years of experience at a minimum. This will be beneficial to you once you realize the healthcare facility expects you to already understand your position and will not teach you nursing like a staff position would.
- Certifications, certifications, certifications. Based on your specialty, you should have in your possession the certifications that are mandatory and beneficial to your career. For example, the emergency nursing specialty requires mandatory Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support certifications at a minimum. Beneficial certifications include Certified Emergency Nursing Certification, Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course, and Trauma Nursing Core Curriculum Course are a few certifications to have in your pocket.
- Personal Healthcare Documentation/Titers. Prior to starting any healthcare career, hospitals are requiring titers and vaccination records to begin on the unit. This is important as it protects the nurse from any possible complications related to exposure to certain diseases and protects the hospital in the same right. My advice: Keep these records with you always. It will save you money from having to get new titers completed with every assignment.
Step Two: Research Travel Nursing Agencies
There are SO MANY travel nursing agencies located throughout the United States. Do your research on these different companies by either google searching reviews, speaking with other travel nurses on social media, or speaking with a travel nurse recruiter at these companies. It is important to understand what benefits they provide their nurses and understand the overall vision of the company. It is important you feel confident in your company and your recruiter to make for the best travel nursing experience. Please note: some travel nurse recruiters can be pushy and want you to provide your information and personal healthcare documentation before they release information regarding their company and positions. This is unacceptable in my eyes after working with several different agencies and would not work with a company who made this a requirement.
Step Three: Communicate with Multiple Recruiters and Start Your Nursing Profile
Some travel nursing agency recruiters will tell you working with multiple companies is looked down upon within the travel nursing arena. However, I have been a travel nurse for the last two years and I have never not received a position because I worked with multiple companies. Here are some good to knows about working with multiple recruiters.
- Always be honest with your recruiters about working with multiple companies. This prevents your profile from being submitted to the same position by multiple companies and builds trust between you and your recruiters. For example, I told my recruiters I was working with multiple agencies. I was provided pay packages on different positions by multiple companies and requested my profile be sent to certain hospitals based on the company who provided me with the best benefits and pay package.
- Not all agencies have the same facilities available. One company may work exclusively with some hospital systems versus others. You will learn which agencies these are based on experience and research.
Once you pick your top travel nursing agencies, start provided these agencies with your nursing profile which will include, but not limited to:
- RN License
- Certifications: BLS, ACLS, PALS
- Additional certifications: TNCC, ENPC, CEN
- Titers/Vaccinations including Tetanus, Tuberculosis testing
- Yearly Annual Physical Examinations
- Mask Fit
- Professional References
Step Four: Discuss Position Submission and Get Those Profiles Submitted
Once you have chosen your recruiters, it’s time to discuss what positions you would like to be submitted for. Remember: You are your boss! It is your decision whether you want to work day shift versus night shift, what state you would like to travel to, what hospital you would like to work with, and/or what pay you choose to accept. Do not allow a recruiter to talk you into a position you are not comfortable with or accept pay you feel is not sufficient based on your position.
When you agree on positions and pay, submit those profiles and start the waiting game.
Step Five: The Waiting Game and Facility Interview
Waiting for your chosen facilities to contact you can be excruciatingly painful. When you first begin travel nursing, it can be difficult to get a facility to be interested in you as a traveler. Many want nurses with previous experience traveling to know whether you can handle traveling and can be flexible. My advice: be patient and work closely with your recruiter on updates.
When a facility chooses your profile as a potential traveler, they will contact you to schedule an interview. Always keep your phone close. Inform your recruiter which company contacted you and what position you discussed. Most facilities will advise the traveler if they are being offered the position on the phone, but sometimes they will contact your recruitment company first to discuss offering you the position. Either way, your recruiter will contact you and start your paperwork once you are accepted.
Step Six: Travel Nursing Contracts
Your travel nursing contract will display different agreements between you, your recruiter, and the healthcare facility. Your contract will include:
- Assignment Start Date
- Assignment End Date
- Term of Contract (how many weeks)
- Shift of Contract (days, evenings, nights)
- Approved Time Off
- Healthcare Facility Unit
- Required Weekly Hours
- Guaranteed Hours (if provided by facility)
- Base Hourly Taxable Rate
- On Call Hourly Taxable Rate
- Weekly Per Diem Nontaxable Rate
- Housing Type and Monthly Housing Allowance Nontaxable Rate
- Healthcare Facility Information
- Tax Home Information
There will be additional information regarding call out penalties and facility/travel agencies policies that may not be included in the contract but additional paperwork. Read everything and ask questions regarding topics you don’t understand or need more information.
I hope this article was helpful to you in beginning your Travel Nursing Journey. Once you complete your first contract these steps will become much easier and you will fly through 13 weeks like nothing.