Non-Traditional Nursing Careers: What Is Travel Nursing?

Non-Traditional Nursing Careers: What Is Travel Nursing?

Not all nurses work in a hospital or clinic setting.  There are many Non-Traditional Nursing Careers to choose from.  Travel Nursing is one of them!

Travel Nurses are nurses that work temporary contracts for hospitals or other medical facilities. Most commonly, a travel nurse works through an agency.  There is also the option to work as an independent contractor or as a seasonal employee for a facility. I’m going to focus on working as a travel nurse through an agency.

Why is there a need for Travel Nurses?

The need for travel nurses is primarily due to the National Nursing Shortage. Other reasons that a travel nurse may be needed in a facility may be for staff training, strikes, multiple staff out on medical or pregnancy leave, some other Rapid Response need, etc.

Are the pay and benefits the same as a staff nurse ?

travel nurse salariesGenerally travel nurse pay is slightly higher than a full-time employee at a medical facility.  Depending on the severity of need; pay can be higher to attract healthcare professionals.  If you figure in the housing, travel reimbursements, bonuses, the “package” may seem much higher.  However, you must also consider if the company offers other benefits that a full-time employee enjoys.

Some of the larger Travel Nurse Companies have the same or comparable benefits as hospitals such as 401K, health Insurance provided or a reimbursement, CEU reimbursements, Licensure reimbursement, Life Insurance, Disability, Loyalty Rewards, Referral Bonuses, Completion Bonuses, Tax Advantage Programs, Travel reimbursement, Contests, Extension Bonuses.

What areas of nursing can you practice in as a traveling nurse ?

Travel nurses are contracted in a variety of settings including all specialties and facilities which may include: ICU, OR, ER, Med-Surg , Dialysis, Psych, Cath, L&D, PEDS, PICU, STICU, Home Health, Management, Supervisors, Long Term Care, Nursing Home, Rehab, Step Down, and Case Management.

What are the benefits and perks of being a traveling nurse ?

Travel Nurse Inspiration Tandem Skydiving

Courtesy of Gypsy Nurse: Sherry RN

Increased financial reward.

Travel and seeing the World while you are still young and get paid.

Learning new skills and working in different settings.

Expand your horizons.

Freedom to take off between assignments and the money to do things.

Getting out of the rut and always experiencing new things in your work and environment.

Where do you live as a traveling nurse ?

Gypsy Nurse

Most companies provide a private one bedroom apartment or an extended stay hotel depending on what you negotiate, what is available in the assignment locatio

n and what you need. Housing can be quite varied. There is a growing number of travel nurses that provide their own housing via a housing stipend and choices may include shared apartment rentals, vacation rentals, or privately owned RV’s.

What is the typical term of a Travel Contract ?

Generally, travel nurses contract for 13 weeks at a time. Many travel nurses choose to extend another thirteen weeks if the need is there and they like the facility. Contracts or Assignments can range anywhere from 4 weeks to 26 weeks and overseas assignments generally range from 1 -2 years.

Can you choose any state in the country to work in ? Even Hawaii and Alaska ?

Yes; you will need a license for the state you will work in.

Do you get to choose where you want to go ?

Yes depending on the availability of assignments among the 300 Plus Travel Nurse Companies in the United States.  One of the greatest benefits of being a travel nurse is that you are in control.  There are Companies in other Countries as well Generally the English Speaking Countries and the Middle East. The Department of Defense and the Military contracts with Nurses and other Healthcare Professionals in other countries such as in Europe, Japan, Germany, Italy etc.

What about a transportation ?

travel nurse road tripMany people Travel by their own car so it is important to have a reliable vehicle. Some people fly and use a car rental or public transportation on contract.  This is more common in larger cities where parking can be expensive. Some travel nurse agencies will fly a person to their assignment and provide a car rental; however this is becoming less frequent except contracts in Hawaii and Alaska.

How Do I get Started?

You’ve already started by researching the above information!  To learn how to be a successful Travel Nurse, Check out the Step by Step to Travel Nursing!

Do you have other questions about travel nursing?  Post in the comments below.  Don’t forget to subscribe to get all the updated information.

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As a travel nursing educator, Candy aka Gypsy Nurse, RN has worked in healthcare for nearly 20 years, working up the ranks from CNA to LPN to RN. For the past eleven years, she’s worked as a travel nurse, allowing her to practice and live in 15 states throughout the U.S. Candy still works occasionally as a travel nurse but spends most of her time providing a supportive information and resources through and it's affiliated social networks.

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  6. Enjoyed your article! I have a question about travel nursing. Do you think that Healthcare Reform will increase the demand for travel nurses?

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