Travel Nurse Careers
- A Primer

News flash: There is a nurse shortage in the U.S.!

More are needed for Travel Nurse Careers
(What, nobody told you?)

The Birth of the Travel Nurse

Travel nursing is a relatively new career option that began in the early 1980s. Texas, California, Arizona, and Florida are some of the states that first used travel nurses to supplement nursing workforces where the population saw significant increases in the winter months. Since then, travel nurses have been used throughout the country to ease staff shortage problems, adjust staff levels for specific times of year, or supplement staff when nurses are undergoing new education or training.

You may recall the main economic principle from your high school econ class:

‘Supply and Demand’

What help make America great is the entrepreneurial spirit of discovering a need and fulfilling it. Right now, there is an urgent demand in the nursing profession and it’s the Traveling Nurse to the rescue! (What a Country!)

The shortage also created another need; that of matching nurse-starved facilities with the traveling nurse assistance and - voila! - the Travel Nurse Agency was born. Soon travel companies began sprouting up all over the landscape to answer the demand for travel nurse career professionals. These travel agencies (and there are a bunch of them!) contract with hospitals across the nation to supply critically needed nurses.

This is where you come in. When you contract with a travel company, you agree to work in a selected location for a set period of time. How long? Anywhere from 8-26 weeks with the majority of travel assignments being 13-weekers.

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But which company is right for you? Excellent question. And we’ll get to that in a moment when we walk through the selection process so you can pick the agency that satisfies your career needs and desires.

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, 13-weekers. A career travel nurse once told me she could stay just about anywhere for 13 weeks. There was always that light at the end of the tunnel. Meaning, if the assignment didn’t turn out as she planned, it’s not forever and she would be more-the-wiser during her next selection process.

But what if you’re having a ‘high-ho time’ and want to stay longer than 13-weeks? This is a real possibility too. Of course it depends on the ongoing need at the facility and how much you impressed them. Travelers have been known to stay up to a year or more at one location!

Hey, you’re a nurse – can you begin a travel nurse career?
Great Question! – let’s see:

Agencies generally require you to have at least one year of nursing experience in the desired specialty. The more experience the better. They are also looking for RECENT acute care experience. Recent translates within the last two years – max - most agencies prefer within the last 12 months.

Do you meet the basic qualifications for a travel nurse career? Excellent! Let’s press on:

Do you have people skills? Do you make friends easily? Are you a team player? Most nurses do absolutely fine with each and every assignment they accept. In the cases where things just did not work out, (i.e. the hospital terminated the contract) it was usually due to the traveler not fitting in with the staff and not due to a lack of technical skills. (Note to self: Play Nice.)

Are you flexible? Flexibility is perhaps the biggest characteristic a Travel Agency prefers to find in their nurses. If you can adapt quickly and not be too rigid, be willing to consider various assignments, and not have too many limitations, you’ll open yourself to many more travel career opportunities as well as enjoying those you do accept.

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Are you thinking a Travel Nurse Career just might be for you? Outstanding! Let's take a quick look at the many benefits afforded to those who choose a Travel Nurse Career.

Ready? Click here to explore the Benefits of being a Travel Nurse:

Travel Nurse Benefits