What do I need to work as a travel nurse?
A minimum of 1 year of recent experience is the standard. Like any type of nursing, you must be a graduate of an accredited healthcare professional program in the U.S.A. or Canada. You must also be able to prove you have a valid professional license or certification, as well as proof of the right to work in the United States.
Do I have to be single and childless so as to be able to move on to new assignments frequently?
No. Many traveling nurses travel with their families. It is up to each individual, their situation, and their preferences. Some travel nurses only “travel” within a city or metropolitan area, so they actually maintain the same fixed address!
Will each state I travel to require that I be licensed to practice nursing in that state?
Yes, each state has its own rules and regulations, and they change fairly often. However, plenty of assistance is available to make obtaining any necessary licenses an easy process for you. Your Recruiter and/or Quality Management Managers at the best travel nursing companies will work with you to make sure you have all the necessary information to obtain the required license for the state in which your next assignment will be located. This will be done well in advance of the new assignment’s start date. It is also a good idea for you to contact individual state boards in the states you wish to work and get up-to-date information and applications sent to you directly.
Do you require me to sign a long-term contract?
No. RNVip.com will put you in touch with individual travel nursing companies. The contracts you then undertake with those travel-nursing companies are based on each individual assignment. Your individual obligation only exists on an assignment-by-assignment basis.
What sort of personality do I need to have for success as a travel nurse?
Generally, the same sort of traits that any successful nursing professional displays: a dedication to their work, excellent clinical skills, a positive outlook, and a compassionate attitude toward patients. Flexibility is certainly a requirement, but this is true nowadays for non-traveling nurses. The desire to learn and experience new adventures is also very helpful—whether or not you stay in the travel-nursing field for an extended period of time.
SCHEDULES, PAY & BENEFITS
What is considered a full-time schedule?
For nurses who are working 8 hour shifts, forty hours per week is considered a full-time schedule. Some traveling nurses work 12-hour shifts, and 36 hours per week is considered a full-time schedule for them.
How long will I be scheduled to work at a particular assigned location?
Most assignments run 13 weeks. It is also possible to extend a 13-week assignment to 26 weeks, and many traveling nurses do this on occasion. A few short-term assignments, lasting less than 13 weeks, are also available.
How much will I be paid?
This depends on your clinical specialty, the facility, and the location of your assignment. The general pay rate for Registered Nurses varies between $21 and $40 per hour. The typical pay rate for Respiratory Therapists and Surgical Technologists ranges from $15 to $28 per hour. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) usually earn between $17 and $28 per hour.
Will I be eligible for any bonuses?
Yes, but it depends on the assignment. Some offer a lump sum bonus for completing the 13-week assignment. Some offer a signing bonus in cash when you accept the assignment. Some travel companies also offer incentive programs for completing multiple assignments, which acts as a tenure or retention bonus. Most of the travel-nursing companies also offer referral bonuses. If you refer a nursing colleague to them and they accept a travel nursing assignment, you will receive a referral bonus once they complete their first assignment.
What about insurance? Will I be provided with health and dental coverage?
Yes—most of the traveling nurse companies offer full coverage, often at minimal or no cost to you. Always ask for details from the company before you sign an assignment contract. Comparing the insurance offerings of various companies can be a guideline that helps you decide which companies you’d like to work for as a travel nurse.
What about my travel expenses?
Each travel nursing company pays a reimbursement for your travel. Typically, it is at the rate of 20 cents per mile. There is usually a one-way round trip cap on the reimbursement. Generally, these reimbursements are paid directly to you.
Do I get any help with housing?
Absolutely. Most travel companies will set you up in a condominium or apartment for the duration of each assignment. These are always completely furnished, and the companies handle the arrangements and costs for all your utilities. Usually, you will share a two-bedroom, two-bathroom layout with another traveling nurse, unless you ask for your own private apartment. Sometimes the healthcare facility to which you are assigned owns its own apartment building or house to provide temporary accommodations for traveling healthcare staff.
What if I choose not to use the housing that’s provided and prefer to make my own arrangements?
If you arrange and pay for your own housing, you will usually receive a subsidy or stipend on a monthly basis from the travel nursing company you’re working with.
Will I be eligible for a 401(k) retirement program?
Generally speaking, yes. It depends on the individual travel nursing company. Many of these companies have very strong retirement programs, sometimes with company-matched contributions. Immediate program eligibility is also offered by some of these companies.
How will my career development be affected by being a travel nurse?
Very positively, most likely! Most nurse managers and human resource professionals in the healthcare industry are very familiar with the travel healthcare industry. So, once you decide you want a permanent posting, there will be no need to explain what travel nursing is all about. Instead, many of the qualities most employers look for will already be demonstrated on your resume. For example, your sense of adaptability, flexibility, and your ability to quickly get up to speed with new duties and settings will be self-evident. Your dedication to your career, as demonstrated by accepting many different assignments, will also be plain to see. Finally, one of the biggest obstacles to getting the best jobs—lack of experience—will not apply to you, compared to other candidates who have spent an equal amount of time in nursing but in permanent postings. The variety of assignments you’ll have fulfilled will give you lots of varied experiences to draw upon to ensure your future success!
Do you offer continuing education hours?
The best travel nursing companies offer courses at no charge to their travel nurses on assignments. For those between assignments, they offer continuing education hours on a discounted basis.
WORKPLACES & WORKING CONDITIONS
Where will I be assigned?
All types of healthcare facilities in all 50 states make up the pool of assignments for most travel nurses. Generally, the Sunbelt states and those states that have the most population changes, such as Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, and North and South Carolina have the most assignments. Other states that have big seasonal resort/vacation populations are also fairly common assignment destinations, such as ski states like Colorado, Utah, Vermont, etc.
How much flexibility is there in these assignments? What if I want to work in warm, sunny climates or I’m interested in particular areas or parts of the country?
Talk to your recruiter about your likes and dislikes, the types of locations and jobs that interest you, and any special requests or needs you may have. The recruiter can work with you to steer you toward those assignments that work best for you.
What types of facilities will I be working at?
Travel nurses are employed at every sort of hospital, from the small healthcare facilities that serve rural areas to prestigious teaching facilities and high-profile, big-city hospitals. If you’ve worked at one type of facility in the past, and you want to stay in similar environments, you can. Alternately, you may want to branch out and try other types of work settings to explore your preferences. That’s easy to do, too.
Each hospital I work at is bound to have its own requirements and that sort of thing—how will I find out about these?
If a hospital uses travel nurses, and most do, they generally have an orientation program for them. The particulars of the program obviously vary by institution, and a lot has to do with how large the hospital is, how many travelers they typically employ, and even with how they orient their permanent healthcare staff members. The travel nursing company’s recruiter can usually give you many of these details as part of the background on the potential assignments you are given for consideration. When you meet with the hiring manager at an individual hospital you are considering being assigned to, this is an excellent question to bring up as part of the interview.
How long does it take after submitting my application before I get my first assignment?
This largely depends on when you want to start. Sometimes, it can take as little as one week. Often, a nursing company will begin presenting you as a candidate to healthcare facilities looking to hire travel nurses as soon as the company has accepted and processed your application paperwork.
FAMILY & PERSONAL
Can I travel with a family member?
Yes. Many traveling nurses move around as a family. Many find it is an excellent way to get acquainted with new areas and new parts of the country as a family.
Can I bring a friend along with me?
Yes. Most traveling nurse companies will make arrangements for you to be roommates with your friend.
If my friend is also a traveling nurse, can we work together on an assignment?
Absolutely. Significant numbers of travel nurses work with a travel partners and they select assignments together, sometimes at the same facility and sometimes at different hospitals in the same location. Some of these travel partners also choose to be roommates; others have their own private apartments in the same complex.
What if I have a pet I want to take with me?
That’s usually not a problem, but you will have to ask for the private housing option, usually with a small co-payment. The apartment complexes you will typically stay at often will insist on a separate pet deposit, and you would be responsible for the deposit.
What about my banking arrangements?
There are many possibilities to choose from to make working with a bank easier when you’re moving around pretty frequently. Nearly every traveling nurse company offers direct deposit service, so you can easily continue doing business with a bank in your hometown. If you arrange for automatic bill payment with that bank, then you are all set. The Internet adds a whole new dimension to banking and can really make it easy for you to do your banking, regardless of your location. Other traveling nurses choose to work with a national bank that has locations in many different areas—that way, they can continue to do most of their banking in person, while keeping things like “foreign ATM service fees” to a minimum.
Will I be able to receive mail when I am traveling?
The arrangements you make are up to you. Some nurses have their home post office forward their mail each time they move. Other travel nurses rent a private P.O. box from one of the shipping/mailbox outlets you find in many strip malls, and they make arrangements to have that establishment forward their mail on a regular schedule. Still others ask a family member or friend to receive their mail and then forward it to their current location once a week or so.