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Travel Nursing

Travel nursing, rather than being a specialized field of nursing, can roughly be described as a particular nursing “lifestyle”. Nurses who enjoy traveling and living in different parts of the country choose travel nursing as an easy way to explore different areas and satisfy their curiosity. The travel nursing industry began in the 1980s, as serious shortages of nurses began to occur, sometimes regionally and sometimes seasonally. Travel nurses fill a temporary position while other nurses in that area are on vacation, maternity leave, or simply to ease a nursing shortage.

Registered nurses (RNs) with virtually any specialization can travel throughout the country or the world to practice their profession. And it’s not only RNs who have the privilege of traveling. Also in demand are licensed practical nurses (LPNs), dialysis nurses, nurse managers, radiology technicians, and, outside the field of nursing, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists. Typically, travel nursing companies require at least 18 months of experience before a nurse can apply.

Reasons for becoming a travel nurse vary from individual to individual. Some nurses simply enjoy living and learning about different parts of the country, and enjoy the adventure of traveling. Some travel because they are thinking of moving to a particular area but want to try it out before they accept a permanent position. Other nurses become a travel nurse because it boosts their income – some areas are so desperate for nurses that they will pay $40 per hour or more to travel nurses. Still other nurses travel in order to build their resume, showing that they have experiences in many different care settings with many different types of patients.

 

 

How Travel Nursing Works

Nurses who wish to travel first partner with a travel nursing agency. They can then choose where they wish to go to work. The travel nursing agency manages the travel assignments, dictates the length of the assignment, and offers the nurse support and benefits.

Travel nursing assignments generally last anywhere from a month to an entire year. However, the majority of travel nursing assignments last between about three to four months. In some cases, after an assignment has ended, the travel nurse is offered a permanent position by the hospital or care facility. The travel nurse then has the choice to settle down, or move on to their next adventure.

Travel nurses can be either an LPN or an RN, usually with at least 18 months experience, as previously mentioned. Once a nurse decides to travel, the first step is choosing an agency to work with. It’s a good idea to research an agency thoroughly before applying; not every travel nursing agency has the best reputation. Questions to ask include:

- What is the rate of pay? – It is the agency, not the care facility, who actually pays the nurse.
- Does the agency offer retirement benefits? – Some agencies provide nurses with 401(k)s and other retirement benefits.
- Does the agency offer any discount programs? – Some agencies help nurses find special rates on cell phone service, luggage, health club membership, and other programs perfect for someone who is moving around a lot.
- Does the agency offer free continuing education? – Nursing agencies with their nurses’ best interest in mind often offer free continuing education courses and other loyalty programs.

Before applying, it’s also a good idea to talk with experienced travel nurses who have worked for an agency or several agencies to find out what their experiences have been. There are many forums and chat rooms on the internet for nurses, so seek one of these out and ask the travel nurses questions about their experiences with various travel nursing agencies.

Once accepted by a particular agency, nurses are assigned a personal recruiter who handles their particular assignments and opportunities. With the recruiter, a nurse can choose an available assignment. Having chosen an assignment, the nurse usually interviews with the hospital or care facility by phone.

 

Unique Benefits to Travel Nursing

One of the biggest perks to being a travel nurse is the free housing. Nurse agencies help nurses find free housing, and appliances are included at no additional charge. Nurses who don’t like the housing they are offered can find their own housing and enjoy a housing subsidy from their agency.

Travel nursing agencies also offer their nurses reimbursements for any travel expenses the nurse incurs when moving to a new assignment.

Job Prospects for Travel Nurses

As long as nurses remain in high demand, the salaries and benefits offered to travel nurses will also remain top quality. Even during the current economic downturn, demand for nurses remains quite high, making it easy for nurses who wish to travel to take their pick of assignments anywhere in the country at a very competitive pay rate.

 

 

 


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