What is a Travel Nurse? A Snapshot
A travel nurse can fill in the gaps within the U.S. healthcare system and around the world. Travel nurses can fill in for nurses on parental or sick leave, assist when there’s a large emergency or staff shortage, or travel to rural areas and abroad where there’s a need for nurses.
A study of travel nurses sourced from 64 agencies working at one hospital showed that travel nurses, on average, cover medical units 18% of the time. This was followed by surgical units (11%) and adult critical care (9%). Time spent with ortho neurology and oncology units each occupied 5% of the travel nurses’ time. These percentages were based on a contact period, whose duration could range from four to 26 weeks.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), those seeking a career in nursing should compete a bachelor’s degree program in.
Why Travel Nurses are in Demand
A shortage in nurses means that travel nurses are in higher demand than ever. According to Staffing Industry Analysts, travel nurses are projected to account for one-third of temporary healthcare staff in 2018. Hospitals are also spending millions of dollars each year to hire travel nurses and many offer incentives like free housing or tuition reimbursement.
As a travel nurse in the US can expect to earn at least as much as an RN. The median annual salary for RNs was $68,450 in 2016. According to Indeed, travel nurses make an average weekly salary of $1,389, or $72,228 per year.
Why You Should Choose Travel Nursing
There are several reasons why travel nursing is a terrific option for aspiring nursing professionals. Firstly, it affords the chance to visit and work across the country or around the world. There’s also a steady demand for travel nurses because of the nursing shortage. Additionally, there’s potential for attractive benefits packages like housing allowances. Finally, there’s the opportunity to be exposed to a wide array of healthcare settings and systems.
While there are many benefits to becoming a travel nurse, it’s not a job without challenges. Take working environment, for instance. While you could be working in a new setting every couple of months and increasing their nursing acumen, you’ll also need to constantly be able to adapt to unfamiliar situations and roll with the punches. Additionally, while having the chance to travel domestically and globally to help people in need, these assignments can range anywhere between four to 26 weeks long, meaning you must move to a new city or state every few months. Finally, while travel nursing has the potential to pay well, most agencies don’t offer paid time off between assignments, requiring you to support yourself in between assignments.
Preparing to Become a Travel Nurse
Having a degree in nursing is the first step in becoming a travel nurse. However, there are more steps to take after this is completed.
Some states belonging to the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). If you’ve passed the NCLX in one of these NLC states, you’ll already have a multistate license that allows you to practice nursing in other NLC states. If you don’t, you’ll need to apply for a license in the state you’d like to work. If you have a nursing specialty, it may be wise to ensure you have the related certification.
Finding an Agency
Once you’ve earned your degree and licensure, your next step is to connect to an agency. There are many different agencies and websites that can help you find a job that may be a good fit for you. Some of these agencies include Talemed, Travel Nurse Across America, and Flexcare. Keep in mind that most travel nursing agencies will require you to have up-to-date immunizations as well as a current TB test and a physical exam.
Do Your Homework
Once you’ve found an agency, it’s time to find a job. A proper job search requires you to research the perspective facility to make sure it aligns with your goals and specialties. If it does, you should then prep your application to make sure your certifications are included, your license is in good standing, and your resume’s up-to-date.
Brush Up on Your Tax Knowledge
Being a travel nurse comes with some tax perks, but only if you declare a “tax home,” which is your place of residence when you’re not traveling. Once this is established, you may be eligible for tax benefits like travel, meal, and lodging deductions. You may want to speak with an accountant to make sure you’re getting every benefit available to you.
If you have a taste for adventure, an open mind, and the desire to help people no matter where they are, becoming a travel nurse can be an exciting and rewarding career opportunity.