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Anthony Colón RN here. Welcome to my blog brought to you by the Travel Nurse Care agency! I've been an RN for 25 years and a Travel Nurse as well. My blog offers advice, answers, tips PLUS Mentorship regarding Travel Nursing. I selected my most trusted colleagues from my own personal network to be your definitive guides and mentors. Click on the Travel Nurse Care agency image below to visit our Facebook page.

TRAVEL NURSING 1️⃣0️⃣1️⃣ by Anthony Colón RN

You can be one of the thousands of nurses that travel! Questions about how they're able to travel, what they do for a living, and a bunch of general questions and answers are discussed in this blog post.


First, you don't need to graduate with a bachelor's of science. It's most important to get some experience. Work for a year and a half, and then start considering your first travel assignment. Most nurses get super excited about this prospect. Let's jump into it.


So what is travel nursing? A travel nurse is a nurse who is contracted to a hospital through an agency to work for about a 13 week contract. Some of the contracts are shorter, some are longer. You may have the option of extending if you like, and the hospital likes you. Nurses are always in demand because there's a nursing shortage as you well know all too well. When you work at the hospital, you are filling the need or the void that that hospital has so, for example, someone that went on maternity leave, someone that is taking a vacation or just paid time off, or just because they're short-staffed. So you are working at that hospital to fill that need, so why would they hire a travel nurse and not a permanent nurse? Well, they would rather hire a travel nurse if they need someone ASAP.


The process for hiring a permanent nurse is a lot longer. You still must go through a lot of orientation and get used to the unit. Sometimes it's only a couple of days, so they kind of just expect you to hit the ground running and start working, so it's easier for them to hire a traveler.


So how do you become a travel nurse? What are the requirements? Well, you need to be an RN or LPN. You need to have about two years of experience in the specialty that you want to work in as a travel nurse. Some hospitals will hire you after a year, a year and a half of experience, but usually, it's two years.


So don't let that discourage you. You just have to be confident and feel ready to be on your own at a new hospital and pick things up really quickly. If you feel like you're a quick learner and you can adapt easily, then you probably don't have to wait the full two years to become a travel nurse. Aim for experience in a specialty such as labor and delivery or OB nursing or the emergency room or have your experience in adult med surg, and try to work in the NICU with infants - but specialize is the point. You need your certifications, BLS, which everyone should have, or pals if you're working with kids ACLs, that's if the units are requiring it (some don't). And then there are certain specialty certifications. For example, an NIH stroke certification may be needed to work on neuro.


Last but not least, you need your license. you may need a new license for every state that you want to work in be it Florida California or colorado. Hopefully, that state is compact.


Hopefully, your company pays for it by offering you license reimbursement after you get your licenses. you'll need to go online to start applying. Keep in mind some state licenses take a lot longer. So that way, you know how early you need to apply, and that way you're licensed there by the time you actually want to leave.


Now I'm going to tell you the actual process. Start by Googling it. You need to find a travel nurse agency company. There are hundreds of them. If I were you, I would just research and see what company you think is best. In my opinion, I would work with multiple companies, because that way you can compare options. Every company has something different to offer such as different benefits, different pay packages, different reimbursements, and then, most importantly, not every company is contracted to the same hospital, so different companies have access to different jobs. You have the right to be so picky.


So once you find a couple of companies - and you have your recruiters - you make a profile and you'll do this all online, and it consists of all of your experience, your certifications, your licenses, and then also your skills checklist. This becomes your main profile with the agency's recruiter.


You pick where you want to go. Keep in mind that travel nursing is competitive, so you may not always find the perfect location, but you will find something, but it just depends on how flexible you want to be. You'll tell the recruiter where you want to go and she looks in those cities and sees what hospitals have job openings.


A great recruiter will go over it with you your contract with a fine-tooth comb by answering your questions or concerns you may have on matters such as the location, the hospital, the pay, and then you decide. Ask yourself if this is a fit based on what was described? If so, apply. If you do, then your recruiter will submit your profile to the hospital and then the hospital manager (or whoever will look over your profile) will decide whether or not they want to interview you.


Fortunately, it's a phone interview and you won't be flying all over the country to interview. If they like you, they'll send the offer to the recruiter and then the recruiter sends it over to you, and congratulations - you have yourself a Travel Nurse gig!


So once you have a job, there's a lot of small little things that must get done such as vaccination/records, drug testing (some hospitals do). And they will require further pass/fail testing just to make sure you're competent on that floor. Some will let you retake it. It's best to study up beforehand.


But after that, you're pretty much good to go. Make sure you look through your contract extensively to make sure everything is written in. Especially you should also be getting travel reimbursement and of course top pay. I'll talk about pay in another blog post.


Travel nursing isn't for everyone. There's perhaps no stability in some people's eyes. Some people need stability. Some people like change and don't mind being in a new city every three months. It's cool you get to see new things. Other responsibilities could tie you down to one place, such as kids or family, or school. However, some travel with their families, so don't think that, just because you're not independent, you have to remain the same-old nurse and that you can't become a travel nurse; you can probably still do it! You just have to figure out what works for you.


Another big question is housing. Where the heck will you live for just three months at a time? You have two options: You can either take the housing that the company provides (they may put you like in a little studio or one-bedroom, that's furnished) or the company will give you a housing stipend. Most prefer taking the stipend. Most people usually take this type in because that's how you make more money and it's tax-free and then you find your own place to live.


Airbnb works well and maybe a travelers' best option, just because it's furnished and you're able to do short-term. You can also look on Craigslist, but be careful because there's a lot of sketchy people out there.


Let's go into the pros and the cons. I'll start with the cons then roll into the pros. First con, I already said it, this arena can be competitive because there's a lot of other qualified travel nurses. Nowadays, you may not find the location you want to be in or a certain hospital that you want to be in, but don't be discouraged. Just keep applying and you'll find something. Another con could be for some as a traveler, is usually you're the first to get floated to another unit. Perhaps this could be a pro for some people - it's a great way to build your resume. But some rather have something more consistent as opposed to obviously going to a new floor. Everything here could be different: faces, people, doctors, and nurses. The layout is different; everything's in a different place; sometimes it's hard to find things.


The next con maybe that new hospital you're at with different policies, etc. Navigating a new hospital every three months could be a challenge to some people. Most importantly, the hospital may have a different EMR to what you're accustomed to doing all your documenting and charting on. If you're traveling alone, you could get lonely. After all, you're away from your family and your friends. Sometimes it's hard for people to make friends if you're on the shy side. But I advise you to just put yourself out there and try to become friends with the nurses on your floors as well as the doctors keeping in mind professional boundaries.


Another con could be applying for the licensing. I don't think it's that big of a con, but sometimes it's a little bit of a process. Some permanent staff nurses may not treat the travel nurses that well and that's because, as a travel nurse you're making more than even seasoned staff nurses. Be prepared to have some not be so helpful or approachable. The next con is moving because frequently packing then unpacking everything could be a drag. Just don't bring your whole household of stuff. And don't pack way too many clothes. Packing your car then shipping it can get costly, so consider driving your car. But for some putting the mileages on it could be detrimental.


I'm gonna get into the pros finally. You make more money! I'll say that again, you make more money! Because you get tax-free stipends you make out nicely. You get tax-free stipends on housing and tax-free stipends on food. The only thing that's actually taxed is your hourly pay. Most favorite pro is probably you get to travel, see the country, and get to experience new cities. You'll meet new friends, you'll try new foods, all while you get to work and travel at the same time!


The good thing is that many assignments are only three months, so if you don't like the place you're in you'll be out of there soon. Any nurse can tolerate something for 13 weeks. You'll also have a lot of flexibility between assignments. For example, if you decide, you don't want to work for a month or two but instead go to Europe and travel on vacation, you can do that between assignments. Be sure to tell your recruiter. But really in between, you can take off as much time off as you want.


I'm planning on doing a bunch of separate QA blog posts and videos. So let me know what you all think about that and send me any questions or topics you'd like covered in future posts.


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Anthony Colón RN here. Thank you for reading this! I've been an RN for 25 years and a Travel Nurse as well. My blog offers advice, answers, tips PLUS Mentorship regarding Travel Nursing. I hand-selected my most trusted colleagues from my own personal network to be your definitive guides and mentors. Visit https://www.TravelNursingAnswersAdvice.Tips for more of the best stuff on surviving and thriving in Travel Nursing.