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Travel Nurse: Education and Career Information

If you are interested in becoming a nurse, but have aspirations to help make a difference around the world, you should consider becoming a travel nurse. Although the requirements for this profession are primarily the same as one who may work in a hospital or medical facility, these nurses may have certain specialties that keep them in high demand. It is a very rewarding and lucrative career path for the right individual.

What does a travel nurse do?

A travel nurse works in different areas for specific amounts of time. This could be up to 13 weeks, or depending on the assignment, shorter or longer. They travel around the country, filling in where they are needed due to the shortage of nurses around the country. This is when these nurses are called to fill those “extra” needs.

A travel nurse performs the same duties as a regular nurse, just in a different location. They communicate between patients and doctors, administer medicine, care for patients, perform physical exam and health histories, care for wounds and other personalized interventions, collaborate with other healthcare professionals in coordinating care, and conduct research for improved patient outcomes. You will find travel nurses in hospitals, nursing homes, retail clinics, medical offices, schools, prisons and other areas where needed.

How much does a travel nurse earn?

Travel nurses can make a very lucrative salary. Based on the contract, they may make more than that of a nurse that is stationary at one location. In addition to their pay, they receive medical benefits, paid housing and reimbursement for travel costs. It is important to note that the pay and stipends vary based on location, and each contract differs based on those amenities and base salary.

A travel nurse can also qualify for a signing bonus when working with a particular agency, and can make up to $10,000 per month if not more, depending on their level of specialization. On average, they make about $75,000 a year or more.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses make about $67,490 on average during 2015.

What skills are needed to be successful as a travel nurse?

There are a number of skills needed to be successful as a travel nurse, including:

Willingness to Learn: A travel nurse is somewhat of a specialty. This position exposes the nurse to a wide range of technologies and different techniques within the field. Because they work in a number of different healthcare settings, they must be prepared to learn new things on a consistent basis. They must be willing to accept the challenge and desire to learn more.

Good Communication Skills: A travel nurse must have good communication skills, as they learn to deal with different patients and medical professionals on a daily basis. They must be able to adapt and communicate on a number of levels, speak clearly and be able to convey their thoughts.

Patience: A travel nurse must have a high degree of patience. Being able to deal with a number of patients and personalities of various medical professionals on a revolving basis is key. A person who desires to become a travel nurse must also be dedicated to the professional and able to work hard to be successful.

Flexibility: A travel nurse must be flexible, as assignments and locations change regularly. They must be able to successfully adjust to new people and surroundings, and handle the work environment regardless of the situation. They must also be adaptable to new policies and procedures based on different locales.

Judgment and Decision Making: It is important to make the right decisions to ensure that you are handling the patients correctly, are able to take instructions, and use the right thinking and judgment before making any decisions. Having the right type of personality, being able to be detail oriented, physically or mentally strong, and very considerate with the patients, their families and other healthcare professionals.

Internship Requirements

Internship requirements vary based on the specialization, but most programs require at least a one year internship. Internships are required for every program. Depending on the specialty, the student will have longer internship requirements, especially in a master’s program.

Education Requirements

In order to be a travel nurse, you must complete the requirements of being a standard registered nurse. That means you must attend nursing school and obtain the Associate of Arts or Bachelor’s of Nursing (BSN) degree. This could take between two to four years depending on your specialization. After attaining the degree, the RN must sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. After you attain the nursing degree, you may want to get a master’s and specialize in something specific. Additional certifications will benefit the nursing student and open up the possibilities for more work and higher pay.

Prerequisites for any nursing degree program include a high school diploma, proof of a Hepatitis B vaccination. For the master’s program, the student must have proof of a bachelor’s degree, an active nursing license and letters of reference to get into the program.

Nurses may also want to consider completing a doctoral degree program to work in advanced nursing positions as a travel nurse, teach or do research.

This type of position is for someone who likes to move around and desires flexibility. They have a number of jobs available to them, which they can choose from. For someone who wants to travel and visit different cities, this is a great option. This job also gives a nurse freedom in where they work and how often they work. They can take one assignment, take off for a couple of weeks, and pick back up in another location.

Having the ability to take a job in a warm climate when your base operations are in a cold climate is a huge advantage. For someone who is looking for the right area to settle down, this is the most efficient and economical way to make that decision. This is a very lucrative position for someone who needs variety and change, and is willing to take chances with their career for growth. All these factors play a monumental role in become a travel nurse.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association
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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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