How to Become a Travel Nurse: Step By Step Guide

Posted on April 25th, 2024

How to Become a Travel Nurse: Step By Step Guide

Who Is a Travel Nurse?

A travel nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who works on short-term assignments, typically lasting around 13 weeks, in various healthcare facilities across different locations. Unlike traditional nursing roles that involve long-term commitments to a single employer or facility, travel nurses move from one assignment to another, often traveling to different cities, states, or even countries to fill staffing needs.

Travel nursing offers nurses the opportunity to explore different healthcare settings, gain exposure to diverse patient populations, and experience various cultures and communities. These assignments can take place in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or other healthcare facilities. Travel nurses are expected to provide high-quality patient care, collaborate with healthcare teams, and adapt quickly to new environments and routines.

A travel nurse is a great career to grow as a professional in the healthcare industry. Meeting new people, visiting new places and having new career experiences are the few facets of the travel nurse. If you like to travel around new places and wish to do work that helps patients then a travel nurse is a right career for you.

The requirement for travel nurses in the healthcare industry is always high. If you determine your skills and interest, plan your career and put all actions in the right place, you can definitely achieve great success, make a huge fortune and live a rewarding travel nurse career.

How to Become a Travel Nurse and 10 steps to becoming a Travel Nurse:

1. Qualification

The very first thing that you must do if you wish to become a travel nurse is getting the required education. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) is the basic education that enables you to write the NCLEX exam and qualifies you for the job. You can get the ADN or ASN degree from an accredited nursing school within 2-3 years if you hold a High School Diploma or General Education Diploma certificate.

However, most hospitals these days consider a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing as basic education for a candidate to qualify for this job. Though it is still not a legal requirement, there is a possibility in the future to make BSN a prerequisite for an individual to qualify for this position.

2. Clear NCLEX Exam

The next step on your way to becoming a travel nurse is the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam. The NCLEX is a standardized exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to grant licenses to nurses. You need to pass this exam if you want to get the RN license and have the authority to practice anywhere in the U.S.

3. Experience

Get hands-on nursing experience in the specialty you would like to make your travel nurse career. Though one year of experience in the area of specialty you applied for is enough to kick start your travel nurse career, the more experience can make you the most sought-after individual for the position. There are too many specialties available out there in the healthcare industry to choose from, but ICU, MS, ER, TELE, MS/TELE, OR, CVICU, CathLab, PEDS, PICU are the few specialties in demand. The experience in these specialties can give the required mileage to your travel nurse career.

4. Check your Tax Home

Usually, travel nursing pay packages are almost always offered with some form of tax-free compensation. You may hardly find an agency that offers you a pay package which is all-taxable. Before you start looking for your next assignment, be sure you are tied up with the agency who takes care of your tax jargon, covers you up for all types of payable taxes and helps you maintain a legitimate tax-home. Remember, if you do not qualify for tax-free compensation, you have to pay income taxes on the money that you have earned throughout the year.

5. Checklist Your Needs

Before you start looking for agencies, be sure where you would like to have your next assignment and which hospital will be a good place to advance your career. Every agency offers different pay packages and reimbursement plans based on the location and hospitals you select so it will be easy for you to compare and weed out the agencies if you know what exactly you want in your next assignment in advance.

6. Checklist Your Pay Package

As it is said earlier, the different agencies offer different pay packages. There is a possibility of getting baffled between the packages. The common benefits that you find in a pay package are housing, 401k, travel stipends, rental cars, etc. It will be good to make a list of benefits that you expect in a pay package and practice a strategy that helps you compare and identify the benefits before you choose the agency to process your profile for your next assignment.

7. Find a Perfect Agency

Once you determine what is good for your travel nurse career and what you expect in a pay package, start looking for the agencies that can get you what you need. You can visit websites and get referrals from your colleagues to identify the top agencies. When you find an agency, make sure all your queries are answered and you end up with the agency that can help you get what you need from the next assignment.

8. Maintain Your Profile

The most tedious task in landing the right travel nurse job is managing a profile. You need to go through time consuming laborious paperwork when you submit the profile. Usually, hospitals expect an agency to submit a proper candidate profile and the agencies make you fill the papers that may include redundant details. This is not only exhausting but also an onerous process. Instead, you can sign up with the online network platforms which maintain the complete profiles of the healthcare professionals, including the required details like skills checklist, clinical references, certifications, experience, etc. and also assists the recruitment and onboarding needs of the agencies and healthcare centers.

9. Ensure All Papers are Up to date

Most of the time, we lose a job because of improper paperwork. You should make sure that all your certificates and licenses are up to date and you should be able to share them with your new employer as soon as they ask you to do so.

10. Get the Nursing Assignment You Want

The last and final step is to start applying to the jobs, attending the interviews and signing the contract. Remember the contracts are negotiable and the contract negotiation is the trickiest part during the selection process. We suggest you do proper research on the contract terms and pay package conditions before you negotiate with the hospitals and agencies. Make sure you get the right pay package and appropriate travel healthcare compensation at the end of the negotiation.

All the steps discussed above may help you become a travel nurse. Once you get the first assignment of your travel nurse career, there will be no turning back. You may get plenty of travel nurse opportunities on your way that not only advance your career but also help you earn more money.

Feel Free to search for Travel Nurse Jobs or Submit your resume, If you have any queries, please feel free to contact our Protouch Staffing team.

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