Registered nurses (RNs) who have a sense of adventure and a caring spirit are increasingly hitting the open road to work in far-away cities and earn lucrative salaries. Travel nursing allows RNs to learn specialized skills by working with different populations worldwide. They are essential to filling open positions as baby boomers move into retirement, chronic diseases proliferate and the nationwide nursing shortage continues.
A survey by the medical staffing firm AMN Healthcare found some RNs seek travel positions for an opportunity to learn about different working environments before accepting a full-time position in one area. The survey also showed RNs working in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) or emergency department (ED) were most inclined to consider a career as a travel nurse.
“A lot of nurses travel in order to find the place that is the right fit for the long term,” Marcia Faller, PhD, RN, chief clinical officer for AMN Healthcare, said in “Nurse Survey Reveals Career Pride, Lower Job Satisfaction.” “They move around and look for an organization that has the same values as they do.”
Indeed, working as a travel nurse presents opportunities to grow and develop as an RN. At the same time, RNs who work as traveling nurses are increasingly expected to have earned Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees to prepare for the challenges of an increasingly complex healthcare system. Hospitals and medical centers nationwide support the BSN as the minimum qualification for practice to meet Magnet accreditation standards.
Advantages of Travel Nursing
Working as a traveling nurse provides many of the same benefits as working as a staff nurse — direct patient care, helping underserved populations, working with student nurses and career stability, to name a few. However, travel nursing also provides many perks above staff nursing, including:
The typical salary for a travel nurse varies widely based on years of experience, specialty and other factors. However, some travel nurses are paid more than staff nurses when other benefits are added, including tax-free stipends. According to the online employment site ZipRecruiter, travel nurse salaries range from about $35 an hour (North Carolina) to nearly $49 an hour (New York).
In addition to a base salary, which is taxable, some travel nurses also earn daily non-taxed stipends to pay for housing, meals and incidentals. The rates and terms of the payments differ by travel nurse agencies. Since many rules and regulations apply to the tax-free funding, travel nurses should seek counsel from a qualified accountant before signing a contract.
Expanded career network
Travel nursing provides an opportunity to meet and work with some of the nation’s leading medical providers and make connections that can provide career advancement.
Greater versatility in practice
Since nursing assignments might change from one location to the next, travel nurses have an opportunity to expand their expertise in a variety of nursing duties. Travel nurses also work with patients of varying cultures, providing an opportunity for greater cultural competency.
Fewer mandatory obligations
Unlike staff nurses, travel nurses are typically not required to attend staff meetings or undergo regular performance reviews.
Traveling the world
A significant factor driving RNs to travel nursing is the opportunity to travel while earning a salary. In fact, many nurses base their assignment choices on location. Nursing assignments, which are about 13 weeks on average, provide an opportunity to spend time exploring new locales and cultures.
Easier vacation planning
Unlike staff nurses who have to coordinate vacation time with co-workers far in advance, travel nurses are able to easily plan vacation time between assignments or have a request written into the contract. Some travel nurses choose to take weeks off in between assignments or move directly from one assignment to the next.
The travel nursing agency Prestige Travel Nurses said, in “Cultural Competence and Travel Nursing: A Natural Fit,” the best thing about travel nursing is the opportunity to achieve meaningful patient relationships and focus on patient-centered care.
A first essential step to working as a travel nurse is seeking meaningful employment in the field.
How to Work as a Traveling Nurse
Some RNs who seek work as a travel nurse use career platforms such as Indeed, LinkedIn or Glassdoor to find employment while others use travel nursing agencies to navigate the experience. No matter the approach, the basic requirements for travel nursing remain the same:
Earn a BSN
Although a BSN degree is not mandated for nursing practice in the United States, many hospitals and medical centers will not hire RNs without a BSN. Careers with a BSN degree are plentiful across the nation.
Earn licensure and specialty certifications
All states require nurses to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam for licensure. States also have state-specific requirements for licensure. Currently, nurses who choose to work in multiple jurisdictions may have to earn licensure in each state. However, laws are changing nationwide that will allow nurses to work across state lines.
Most hospitals, medical centers and travel nurse agencies require RNs to have some experience before they launch into a travel career. The exact amount of time varies based on the organization but is typically about two years.
Maintain continuing education credits
All nurses are required to take continuing education credits (CEUs) to maintain and renew their nursing license. Travel nurses should be aware of the CEU requirements in each state of employment.
Many RNs who consider a career as a travel nurse look to RN-BSN online programs to help them achieve the first requirement of the profession. An online program allows RNs to accomplish the goal of earning a BSN degree while maintaining their professional careers.
At Duquesne University, RN-BSN online students learn strategies that will help them work as travel nurses, including cultural competencies and critical thinking skills.
About Duquesne University’s Online RN-BSN Program
The Duquesne University online RN-BSN program is flexible, customizable and 100% online. Licensed RNs enrolled in Duquesne University’s RN-BSN online program automatically earn 60 of the required 120 credit hours for graduation. Those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and are a licensed RN are only required to complete 30 credit hours to earn a BSN.
The online RN-BSN also provides students with a boost to the next level by allowing them to take master’s-level coursework for an MSN degree. Learn more about Duquesne University’s online RN-BSN program website by contacting us today.
Nurse Survey Reveals Career Pride, Lower Job Satisfaction: Travelnursing.com
Travel Nursing vs. Staff Nursing – 10 Major Differences: Nursing.org
What Is the Average Travel Nurse Salary by State: ZipRecruiter
15 Outstanding Benefits of Being a Travel Nurse in 2017: MAS Medical Staffing
Cultural Competence and Travel Nursing: A Natural Fit: Prestige Travel Nurses
5 Requirements To Become A Travel Nurse: Host Healthcare