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Why and how to start travel nursing

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to wreak havoc the world over, travel nursing has gained more prominence. The overwhelming number of cases has prompted the healthcare sector to employ more nurses, mostly temporarily, to help control the situation. Some of these medical professionals are then sent on nursing assignments to understaffed healthcare facilities.

If travel nursing is a new concept to you, this quick guide covers the bases! Inside, we explain what the profession is all about, why you should consider joining, and how to go about it.

Why be a travel nurse?

For starters, a travel nurse is a medical practitioner who works for an independent staffing agency. You are assigned, usually on a temporary employment basis, to a care area that’s experiencing a shortage of clinical experts.

Five reasons travel nursing is regarded highly and why you should join today

  • For starters, it helps to bridge the employment gap in the nursing field, something that’s common during health pandemics like COVID-19.
  • It increases patient safety as the nurse to patient ratio goes up. Ultimately, the affected population enjoys better healthcare with more experts available to attend to them.
  • Travel nursing compensates well as employers are ready to pay top-dollar to deal with the emergency at hand.
  • It also expands your skillset as you attend to cases and situations you probably haven’t been exposed to before.
  • The profession comes with flexible employment terms. The majority of travel nursing contracts last for about 13 weeks, after which you can resume your other duties.

How to start travel nursing?

If you’re interested in becoming a travel nurse, the following are some of the key traits and requirements you need to meet.

Personal traits

Be adventurous

Your assignment will involve traveling to different care areas to offer your expertise. If you enjoy seeking out new and daring experiences, travel nursing will likely be a great fit for you!

Be flexible

Travel nurses working with independent staffing agencies must comply with non-personal schedules. You have to be ready to offer your service on-demand and work with short deadlines whenever you’re called upon for an assignment. Always have your essentials ready and a reliable platform where you can book a suitable travel nurse housing. Securing a furnished, ready-to-go apartment by your assigned hospital or clinic can make or break your assignment.

Be open to new ideas

For you to be a successful travel nurse, you must remain open to learning new things that your specialty area demands. You’ll often work with people with different ideologies from yours and be exposed to new technologies. Therefore, the best you can do is to adapt quickly depending on the current situation.

Embraces challenges

Moving to unfamiliar working environments where you’re repeatedly a newcomer will in most cases prove challenging. A travel nurse has to embrace these challenges and thrive through them. Teach your mind how to accept new hurdles and be patient with yourself.

Enjoy your freedom

As a travel nurse, you’ll have to decide when and where to work, and also choose the duration of your employment contract. This will call for high-level self-drive and self-discipline to ensure you’re not abusing your freedom.

Support system

Traveling the world to be on the frontline in fights against grave health situations like the current pandemic is never going to be an easy task for anyone. It would help if you had firm support from your social circle, including friends and family. Also, try to make new friends wherever your assignments take you.

Educational requirements

Like any other technical profession, your education qualifications are essential to becoming a travel nurse. So, what’s needed?

Nursing degree

Healthcare facilities that hire travel nurses require you to either have an associate or a bachelor’s degree. An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) takes a minimum of 2 years to acquire, after which you become a registered nurse (RN). A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing takes a minimum of 4 years to acquire and is mostly an upgrade of ADN.

Exams and experience

You must pass the exams set by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse. This body offers tests that equip you with the knowledge needed to provide public health and safety services.

It’s also common to find travel nurse agencies needing you to have at least one year of hands-on experience in your nursing specialty. Also, you might be required to understand the native language of the people you’ll be serving during your assignment.

Other additional requirements you must meet include:

  • Passport and work visa
  • Immunization
  • Familiarity with the target disease or pandemic

To increase your value as a travel nurse, you can consider acquiring specialty certifications such as:

  • Surgical expertise
  • Intensive care unit nursing
  • Women’s labor and delivery nursing
  • Emergency room nursing

What are some of the steps you’re taking to set yourself up for a successful career in travel nursing? We’d love to hear your feedback below.

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