Travel Nurse Job Application Prep

When you find out that the travel nursing agency has your dream assignment available, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time. An agency cannot submit you to a healthcare institution for consideration until all the necessary documentation is accomplished. Often the choice location will go to a more prepared traveler!

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We can’t let that happen to you, so let’s get you prepared early in the game.

Here are the basics that you’ll need to speak to most travel agencies:

Resume (optional but can save you a lot of time and re-keying of data.)

Application from the Agency (many apps are now online and you can simply ‘cut and paste’ your resume into the various fields. (Don’tcha just love technology!)

Skills checklist (often found online at the Agency’s web site.)

Copy of Nursing Licenses (at least for the state you want to visit)

Certifications needed for your specialty

Driver’s License

Social Security card (front and back)

BCLS (front and back)

Two supervisory or charge nurse references from your most recent clinical experiences

All your immunization records which should include the following

* MMR & Rubeola Titers /Vaccinations (New rules state that MMR be no more than 10 yrs old.)
* Hepatitis B Titers/Vaccinations
* Varicella Titer or Varicella History
* PPD within the last 12 months or Chest X-ray
* Physician Statement or physical completed with the last 12 months (Basically a physician’s statement that you’re well enough to work)

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Remember – the best way to ‘eat an elephant’ is one bite at a time. (Unless you’re a vegetarian!) Take the time now to gather the important documents so you’re not scrambling to get the necessary paperwork together.

It’s a good idea to keep copies of all these important documents in a portfolio. And take them with you on each assignment -- “Murphy” travels too and something always manages to get misplaced. (But let the peasants laugh for you’ll have everything that’s required right there with you!) You are sooo smart!

Once your documentation is compiled, all you have to do is fax copies to the various agencies that have the opportunities you want! Some savvy travelers have scanned all this into one neat package suitable for emailing. Now that’s harnessing technology for your benefit.

As you recall, most agencies require you to have at least 1 year of experience in your specialty. If you want to obtain a position in a given discipline, get the experience and the necessary continuing education now to prepare yourself for upcoming travel assignments later.

Documentation Tips:

A resume can save you lots of time. If you’re filling out an online application, cut and paste the information and you’ll have it completed lickety-split.

If you’re completing a hard copy of the agency’s application, you can annotate “See Attached” for employment history.

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Important note: Keep in mind that you are trying to impress the HOSPITAL not the travel agency. Make sure your documentation is as presentable as possible. You’re a pro – look like a pro!

The skills checklist is probably the most time consuming form of all. Most agencies have their preferred checklist to complete. The facility will review this checklist to see if you meet the needs they are looking for and your assignment will be made accordingly.

Do not go overboard on skills you are not familiar with!

You do not have to know how to do everything listed. You’re not suppose to! The facility will use this form to determine where you will be placed. Let’s not set the stage for a professional “faux pas”. Be honest with your self-evaluation. You want to enjoy your travel nurse experience, not get stressed-out by it.


You will need to apply for a nursing license in the state where you want to travel. Be sure to check out the appropriate State Board for the necessary licensure criteria.

Obtaining a license in a new state can be a lengthy affair. Besides submitting an application and proof of education and credentials, there might be extra qualifying factors, ranging from letters of recommendation to supplementary exams. When you factor in the importance of allowing ample time for the turnaround of paperwork, it's easy to see why being proactive is essential.

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Not to fret, help is on the way!!!


First, visit the appropriate State Board of nursing for their particulars. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing kindly provides a complete listing of state boards: State Boards of Nursing (Thank you NCSBN!) Be sure to note any necessary verifications, continuing education (CE) requirements, crucial dates, and other prerequisites that must be completed. Note what they list as their average turnaround time and also if they allow for licensure “walk throughs”.

Neatness and completeness counts! Be sure to fill in the blanks clearly and thoroughly. Really, if you don’t dot every "i" and cross every "t" it could be costly. Licensing boards have rejected forms for everything from illegible handwriting, to being incomplete, to the absence of a signature.

If this happens to you, resubmitting the paperwork - and going back to the bottom of the pile - will be your only recourse. (This is NOT a “good thing”)

Make sure to give your package a final review before sealing the envelope. It may be wise to splurge on a courier service, such as FedEx, or have our Postal Friends deliver it via registered mail for tracking purposes and added peace of mind. (I feel better already, don’t you?)

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When you talk to the nursing boards, be sure to note the name of the person you spoke with. This “contact” may prove to be helpful down the road.

Feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry - you’re not going through this process totally alone. (Hey, I’m here!) You can expect your travel company to provide assistance with these procedures. The travel agency folks are highly acquainted with the individual boards. They’ll point you in the right direction, share pertinent contact information, and tell you exactly what to anticipate in terms of timelines, fees, and other licensure processing actions.

Temporary Licensure

Several - not all - state agencies will grant temporary licenses, with permanent ones pending, to nurses who have met their requirements. A number of industry experts report that roughly 50 percent of travelers rely on these types of permits to practice.

A temporary license allows you to work in the state from 1 to 6 months. It’s a good idea to apply for a permanent license at the same as you’re applying for the temporary one.

Should you intend to work via a temporary license, it is vital to follow up with the state's board concerning the status of your licensure. For some states it may take up to 8 weeks to process a temp. If time runs out or you simply forget, you could end up without valid documentation and may face the loss of a contract and/or penalization. So follow-up!

”Walk Through States”

Some states have a “walk through” process where you can obtain your temporary license the same day. It’s always a good idea to submit the application before you leave. Be sure to check with the local board to find out their exact requirements. You may have to allow an additional day or two for travel to the board’s location. Here again is that handy link to the State Boards of Nursing: State Boards of Nursing

Multi-State Licensure

A great boon to travel nurses is the Nurse Licensure Compact. Currently, there are 17 states that belong to the compact and 3 states pending. This means that if you are a permanent resident in any of the compact states, you can work in any other compact state without having to apply for a new license. Just like a driver’s license. Sweet!

To find out which states are part of the compact, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Compact States

Oh Wise and Wondrous Road Warrior...

Keep in mind that although you can depend on support from travel companies and boards, acquiring a license in the state where you'll be on assignment is, ultimately, your responsibility. Stay on top of things and never assume that no news is good news.

If you're awaiting licensure and do not hear from the board in a timely fashion -- reach out and touch them. (repeat after me…. I am organized. I am efficient. I take control!) Travel Nursing is meant to bring you adventure and professional fulfillment. Not more frustration. Don’t let paperwork detract from the fun. Control and Conquer it!

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Note: Most agencies will reimburse you for the cost of obtaining a state’s nursing license. This will be covered in your Travel Agency Evaluation Checklist.

Coming soon to a computer screen near you!


Your travel documentation is coming along nicely, thank you very much. Now let’s go after the Big Dogs. Future Traveler -- Prepare to meet...
The Travel Agencies!!!

Selecting A Travel Nurse Agency