Travel nursing began as an attempt to fill positions in understaffed hospitals and clinics. As a result, these nursing positions tend to be more lucrative positions and offer benefits for anyone who can handle the challenge of a constantly changing schedule.
Travel nurses work on short-term nursing assignments in a variety of health care locations and cities. Assignments may last for a few weeks or may last as long as a year. Nurses work on contract through recruitment or staffing agencies.
The precise duties of a travel nurse depend entirely upon the needs of the hospital or clinic that is hiring the nurse. Nurses from all types of backgrounds can be travelers, from medsurg nurses to psychiatric nurses.
The primary requirement to become a travel nurse is to have a nursing license in your state. Additional educational requirements may exist, depending on the staffing agency and the health care facilities contracting the nurses.
For positions which require a Registered Nurse (R.N.), a minimum of an associate’s degree in nursing is required. However, an R.N. with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) will make a higher salary.
For positions which require a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), the nurse will need to have passed an LPN program at their local community college or vocational school. These programs typically last up to a year.
In addition to educational requirements, most staffing agencies require experience as a nurse. Experience requirements vary, but can be as little as six months or as much as three to five years.
Places of Employment
Hospitals and clinics serve as the main health care facilities that utilize traveling nurses. The hospitals and clinics that the nurse travels to may be within the same city or state, or they may be in an entirely different state.
After completing their short term contract, many travel nurses are offered long term opportunities to work for the hospital or clinic directly.
Salaries vary depending upon location and specialties, but tend to be higher than salaries of other nurses. The average yearly salary for a travel nurse is $55,000, while the average hourly rates range between $30 to $40.
In addition to pay, travel nurses may collect benefits such as travel expenses, a daily stipend to cover expenses, free housing, rental cars and health care packages. Benefits packages vary between staffing agencies.
Due to the nursing shortage, the outlook for this job remains high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entirety of the nursing occupation is expected to rise by 23% by 2016. With few nurses to fill the increasing nursing shortage, travel nurses should remain in high demand.
Similar Types of Nurses
Nurses who enjoy the high intensity of traveling to a different location every 13 weeks may enjoy the adrenaline of being an Intensive Care Department nurse. Nurses who enjoy the challenge of jumping into a new nursing environment may enjoy the challenges presented as an Emergency Room/Emergency Department nurse.