While a career in nursing can be rewarding both professionally and personally. It’s not uncommon for nurses to work several years in the same hospital or outpatient facility. People who thrive in consistent environments with clearly defined expectations may excel in those positions. However, others may find greater satisfaction from frequently changing their work environment or experiencing new challenges.
If you’re someone with an adventurous spirit who loves to care for people, why not consider becoming a travelling nurse? Travel nurses fill a vital niche in the medical field. The heroic assistance they provided to understaffed facilities overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases was a recent example of just how valuable these healthcare professionals can be for patients.
What Is a Traveling Nurse?
Generally, a travelling nurse provides medical care to patients on various short-term assignments, which are offered to them by special staffing agencies. These assignments require moving to various locations and working in different hospitals and healthcare facilities. Each assignment typically lasts between eight and 26 weeks.
Travel nurses play a critical role in filling in for permanent nurses whose life circumstances are preventing them from working. These circumstances include things like maternity leave, short or long-term disability and familial obligations.
Travelling nurses may also play a key role in filling certain specialized nursing positions, especially when hiring the right permanent nurse requires a lot of time and effort.
Traveling Nurse Responsibilities
A traveling nurse’s day-to-day responsibilities frequently include tasks like:
- Assessing patient health
- Taking vital signs
- Drawing blood
- Administering medication
- Preparing patients for treatments
- Assisting doctors in medical procedures
- Educating patients on health and wellness
A traveling nurse must possess certain inherent qualities specific to the mobile and ever-changing nature of their job. These qualities include:
- Openness to change
- Excellent communication skills
- An open mind
- Confidence and an outgoing nature
Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing
There is no perfect job, and just like many other professions, travel nursing has its pros and cons. Of course, what one person considers a disadvantage may be a significant benefit to someone else. Deciding to work as a travel nurse should be a personal choice based on your unique needs and preferences.
If you want the opportunity to explore different parts of the country, and sometimes even different parts of the world, a career in travel nursing may be right for you. You may also find it interesting to meet people from diverse backgrounds and learn new skills and practices from other healthcare professionals.
One of the undisputed benefits of travel nursing is a potentially higher pay than the average nursing salary. It’s not uncommon for travel nurses to earn over $100,000 a year, depending on their degree and experience. If you’re looking to save up a substantial amount of money and don’t mind living with family or friends in between your assignments, travel nursing may help you quickly achieve your financial goals.
The most common disadvantages of travel nursing include being almost constantly away from family and friends, which may be especially problematic if you have children. Although many travel nurse agencies do provide benefits like health insurance and travel reimbursement, they may not be as comprehensive or flexible as the benefits offered by some permanent positions. Travel nurses may also need multiple state licenses to be eligible for certain assignments.
How to Become a Travel Nurse
To become eligible for travel nursing you’ll need to earn your nursing degree and gain valuable work experience. Travel nurses must be registered nurses (RNs). To become one, you’ll have to earn either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
You’ll also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses and apply for RN licensure in your state. Some agencies or healthcare facilities may want travel nursing candidates to have at least two years of hands-on experience through a stationary, full-time position, such as working in a hospital, nursing home or outpatient clinic.
Complete Your First Step Toward a Career in Nursing with St. Louis College of Health Careers
If nursing sounds like an interesting career but you’re not ready to commit to years of coursework, consider earning a Practical Nursing diploma from St. Louis College of Health Careers.
Our academically rigorous, hands-on program will prepare you for a rewarding entry-level nursing career and help you decide if becoming a registered nurse is something you aspire to do.