What is a Travel Nurse?
Travel nurses are registered nurses with various qualifications, certifications, and specialisms who work with independent staffing agencies, usually providing their services wherever they may be needed. Travel nurses work in clinics, hospitals, and different healthcare facilities in different parts of the world. Because their contracts usually last one to a few years, they get the chance to live in, work and experience different parts of the world, traveling and doing what they love most. Travel nurses can also work independently with hospitals and hospital networks that need nurses around the world.
Why Choose Travel Nursing?
Nurses typically choose this career option due to the various perks it provides, as well as the ability to gain varied experience by working in different parts of the world. One such perk is the chance to explore and visit various parts of the world. In many cases, the hotels that travel nurses stay in for shorter assignments, as well as their airfare, is paid for by their agencies, further making this career option more appealing.
Travel nurses also get to work in their areas of specializations. When nurses work in a hospital, they are often confined to one or two specialisms within which they can practice. However, travel nurse agencies post jobs and opportunities that target nurses with different specialisms. Also, agencies often post opportunities and jobs that require nurses urgently. This leads to travel nurses being compensated handsomely for working where other nurses cannot, or where it would take too much time to hire permanent nurses.
A career in travel nursing also gives nurses the freedom to choose where and when they work. Travel nurses can choose positions available in exotic destinations in the Balkans as well as choose contracts that last from a few days to a few years. By accessing open positions through their agency’s jobs board, travel nurses can also choose their own schedule, salaries, and benefits packages.
Lastly, travel nurses get to meet new people and experience new cultures. If you have ever wished to work in Europe and experience what it is like living there, travel nursing is an ideal choice for you. You will visit new, exotic locations, experience new cultures and meet new people wherever you are posted. When you work for an established agency, these opportunities are plenty and seemingly endless.
Why are Travel Nurses Important or Needed?
Travel nurses help fill the gap between the demand for and supply of nurses, especially considering that we are in the middle of a nursing shortage. Travel nurses also help maintain a healthy nurse-patient ratio which has been shown to increase patient safety while lowering patient mortality in areas that have a good ratio. Travel nurses help fill positions and roles where this ratio is abysmal, even if only for a short while.
Lastly, the whole nursing fraternity benefits from nurses of various experience levels, backgrounds, care areas, and geographical locations. These nurses bring invaluable expertise, ideas, and practices that not only benefit their patients, but also other nurses around them.
Becoming a Travel Nurse
Travel nurses are registered nurses who have a few years of experience, typically 2-3 years. This means that the first step in becoming a travel nurse is earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Here, you have the option of choosing a 3 to 4-year nursing program or an accelerated nursing program.
These nursing accelerated programs are available online for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in any non-nursing discipline. Universities like Baylor University offer accelerated nursing programs online for those who want to earn their degrees faster. They also have clinical placement for their graduates, which is a fantastic addition for graduates who want to get into nursing practice immediately after graduating.
After graduating, you can find a healthcare facility that needs nurses due to the ongoing nursing shortage. Once you have 2-3 years of experience, you can then start exploring travel nurse opportunities.
Do note that you do not need additional certifications over your nursing license and certification to become a travel nurse. However, having a certificate in a specific specialism improves your chances of finding travel nurse agencies with open positions that would be a great first for you.
Qualities of Successful Travel Nurses
While travel nursing might seem like a great option, it is not for all nurses. Travel nurses must be comfortable with the instability that comes with their jobs. This is usually in the form of not being able to live in one area, therefore not having any one place to call a permanent home. Travel nurses should also love experiencing new cities, countries, and towns as well as interacting with different people and interacting with their cultures.
Travel nurses must also be highly responsible. Remember that their work schedules, benefit packages, and salaries often depend on how organized they are as well as how flexible they are.
What Do Travel Nurses Do?
- Examining patients to help make decisions about their care to improve healthcare outcomes
- Delivering medical information and counseling their patients
- Researching the health challenges in the communities they serve to come up with viable solutions
- Providing treatment and medications to their patients
- Assisting physicians wherever they are posted
- Bringing healthcare closer to marginalized communities and communities where there is a nursing shortage
- Collaborating with other healthcare providers to formulate quality assurance standards that improve the quality of patient care