How Do I Become a Travel Nurse?

If you have a compassionate nature, an interest in the healthcare field and a love for adventure, you might be wondering how to become a travel nurse. Travel nursing is an industry within the healthcare field in which trained nurses travel to different locations to care for patients, often remaining in one destination for a number of weeks. While the primary reason behind the rise of travel nursing was a shortage of available nurses, the industry allows workers the option of seeing the country, or even the world, while earning a competitive salary and making a difference in the lives of others.

Like other types of nurses, travel nurses care for patients. They take down medical histories, monitor vital signs, use medical equipment and administer treatments, tests and medications. Unlike other registered nurses, travel nurses take temporary assignments, usually in hospitals or other facilities that do not have enough traditional staff members. They work in facilities for a contracted length of time and have the opportunity to meet new people and learn new treatment methods.

Travel nurses must be licensed registered nurses (RNs). They begin preparing for their careers by completing a diploma program, associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) program or a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN) program. Some travel nurse candidates seek a higher level of education or training to enhance their job opportunities and earning potential. During their educational career, nursing students learn anatomy and physiology, chemistry and psychology as well as completing clinical experience requirements. They must also pass a test called the National Council Licensure Examination and obtain a state license to practice nursing.

Before traveling, inexperienced RNs must develop their skills through work experience. While some states and agencies consider one year of experience the minimum requirement for traveling, many expect candidates to have at least two to five years of experience. Specialized travel nurses are typically expected to have spent at least one full year working in their specialty and may be required to hold a certification. Travel nurses get assignments through travel companies. Within the United States, assignments may last for only four weeks, or may last for more than six months at a time. If a travel nurse chooses to take on an assignment outside the country, the duration of the assignment may be as long as a couple of years.

While registered nurses collectively earn a median annual salary of $64,690, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, travel nurses with plenty of experience have the opportunity to earn more than their traditional nursing counterparts. Many travel companies also offer retirement, housing stipends and other benefits to travel nurses. Do you want the opportunity to travel the country and still earn a gainful salary? Do have the academic skills, professional discipline and caring nature to practice nursing? If so, knowing how to become a travel nurse could be your first step toward an exciting new career in the healthcare industry.

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