A travel nurse is a registered nurse who works short-term roles in a clinic, hospital, or any other healthcare facility worldwide. Travel nurses can choose where and when they would like to work. This concept was developed due to the shortage in nursing. Instead of being employed by a hospital, an independent staffing agency for nurses employs them.
There are various assignments for travel nursing for the different types of nurses such as labor and delivery nurses, operating room nurses, neonatal intensive care unit nurses, emergency room nurses, pediatrics nurses, and ICU nurses. Typically, the assignment period often ranges from four to thirteen weeks. Listed below are the requirements needed for one to become a travel nurse.
Active Registered Nurse License
One of the fundamental requirements of being a travel nurse is having an active registered nurse (RN) license. You qualify to become a travel nurse if you hold a bachelor’s degree or Associates in nursing, are a licensed practical nurse (LPN), or have completed your diploma. Generally, travel nurses are often RNs, but depending on assignments for travel nursing and the location, LPNs can be travel nurses.
Before signing with any staffing agencies, check the official requirements of a facility you are interested in, as some facilities prefer travel nurses with a BSN. You may need an additional license if the one you have does not apply to the state you will be working in. The staffing agency usually helps you procure it.
You do not need many years of experience to become a travel nurse. Most agencies require that the nurse has one to two years of bedside experience. However, you should note that if you want to be a travel nurse in specialized units like ICU or labor and delivery, you may need more experience before an agency takes you in. If you have been working as a nurse for an extended period, your skills and experience can make it easier for you to get a job as a travel nurse.
There are additional credentials you will need to become a travel nurse other than the appropriate state nursing license. These include Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Basic Life Skills (BLS). A travel nursing agency cannot sign you if you do not have these fundamental certifications. If you would like to specialize in a particular unit, you need to have that specialty’s credentials.
For instance, you will need an NRP certification if you want to specialize in labor and delivery and postpartum care and a CCRN for critical care. Ensure you do sufficient research if you plan to work in a specialized unit since most agencies expect you to maintain and obtain your certifications at your expense.
Reputable Nursing Staffing Agency
When signing up with an agency, ensure you sign up with one that is reputable. You have to be signed to an agency for you to become a travel nurse. Working with an agency also makes your work easier because they take care of your employment and job hunting details. You will fill out the application online, then submit your skills checklist and professional references. You will get a recruiter who will guide you through the process once your application has been reviewed. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to ask them and be open to any advice or suggestions they may offer you concerning the travel assignments.
You will be interviewed by the hiring manager of the healthcare facility you have applied to. Often the interview is carried out via the phone. Inquire about the assignment and the unit during the interview. If you pass the interview, you will be offered a job and will have to sign a contract if you accept it.
The contract should state things like the reimbursements you should expect, your assignment period, how many hours you will work for, your salary, the mode of payment, and if you qualify for a bonus. Carefully read the contract and ask for clarification from your recruiter if you do not understand something. The benefits and salary of a travel nurse vary between agencies and facilities.
Your agency will help with the required nursing paperwork, licensing, and housing once you sign the contract. You should note that being a travel nurse does not always mean traveling to a faraway destination. You have the option of choosing a housing stipend and finding your accommodation or free housing that the agency will arrange for you. The free housing is often close to the facility you are working in and is furnished. You may be required to pass specific training modules before you start your job as a travel nurse.
When you are applying to become a travel nurse, most recruitment services will only focus on the advantages like sign-on bonuses and stipends. The tax implications of being a travel nurse are often overlooked. The IRS will need proof that you have a “tax home” or rather a full-time residence when you are not working.
You can still work as a travel nurse if you do not have a tax home, but you will be taxed on all your income. This includes any reimbursements or stipends. If you have a home that you pay for and maintain, only your base wage is taxed. The extras like travel reimbursement, housing allotments, and meals are not taxed.
It is not hard to become a travel nurse. There is no particular course you have to study to become a travel nurse. As long as you completed your nursing education and you are a registered nurse who has bedside experience, you can apply to become a travel nurse. As aforementioned, ensure that you sign up with a credible nursing staffing agency. There are various opportunities online that you can look into to kick-start your dream of becoming a travel nurse. There are also various nursing courses that you can enroll in online.