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What is Travel Nursing?

Imagine taking off to a new location every three months, meeting new people, helping new patients, and having new adventures. Welcome to the exciting world of travel nursing!

Travel nurses are licensed RNs who take short-term nursing positions at understaffed hospitals around the nation. These stays average 13 weeks, but may be as brief as a month or as long as a few years.

Travel nursing quick facts

What do you do as a travel nurse?

Your duties as a travel nurse are very similar to those in permanent nursing. You often take assignments tailored to your chosen specialty. Your job description doesn’t change drastically.

  • Care for patients
  • Perform physical exams
  • Administer medications and medical tests
  • Make critical health decisions
  • Manage continuous interventions
  • Ensure medical records are up-to-date

Your day-to-day duties and the structure of your time will feel very familiar to you. You will continue to work a variety of shift lengths, from three 12-hour shifts per week to five 8-hour shifts. As with non-travel nursing, hospitals can request or require overtime from their travelers.

The difference lies in where you do your nursing. You will go where your skills are most needed, at understaffed hospitals across the nation.

Why do hospitals need travel nurses?

There are many reasons hospitals tap travel nurses to help them out of a staffing jam:

  • To aid with the influx of patients during peak season in beach towns, ski destinations, or other tourist areas
  • To cover for a nurse on maternity leave
  • To assist in hardcore specialties with high turnover rates, such as psychiatry, pediatrics, and oncology
  • To fill in during extensive staff trainings
  • As a stop-gap during prolonged hiring transitions
  • In all-hands-on-deck situations, like flu season and natural disasters

How do you get started as a travel nurse?

As a nurse, you can take up traveling at any point in your career. Most hospitals and agencies require nurses to work for at least one year in their specialty before becoming travelers. This experience requirement may be steeper if nursing positions are in high demand.

If traveling is your goal, you can set out as soon as you have the needed experience. On the other end of the career path, you may choose the traveler’s life after years or decades of more traditional service in permanent nursing positions.

Most travel nurses begin their new career adventure with an agency. A travel nurse agency will help you with many aspects of the transition.

  • Help you find your placements.
  • Assist with initial paperwork.
  • Provide you with a place to live or a housing stipend.
  • Arrange your benefits.
  • Lend a hand in navigating each new medical system.

Alternatively, you may choose to go a more DIY route and be an independent contractor, negotiating for yourself.

This is just the beginning. Interested? Get in touch with TotalMed and find out more today.

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