Essential Tips for a Smooth Transition to Travel Nursing


Travel nursing is one of the most exciting career options for health professionals, particularly for registered nurses. This is thanks to the numerous benefits like freedom, flexibility, extra pay, and the chance for adventure among others.

But with the choice to switch to a career in travel nursing comes the overwhelming research process (to select an agency) and transition stage. With careful planning and preparation, you can easily switch to travel nursing and also be able to generate 80% great results with 20% work just like many things in life.

If you are considering switching to travel nursing, here are some tips for an easier transition:

Choose a Specialty in Heavy Demand

Travel nursing requires certain levels and years of experience in a particular speciality depending on the agency. For some agencies, you need to have two or three years of experience in order to get assignments.

The specialities demanded most include Intensive Care Unit (ICU, MICU, CCU, CVICU),  Emergency Room (ER), Labor and Delivery (L&D), Operating Room (OR), and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) among others.

Specialities like PACU, Home Health, Post Partum, and Case Manager are also popular and in moderate demand. One major advantage of going for specialties in demand is that the job is more flexible for you and you have access to more job assignments. You are also very likely to get an assignment at the location of your choice.

Get the Required Certifications

There are certifications that are required for each speciality. Many travel nursing agencies and hospitals sometimes require additional certification. With every extra certification, you have access to more and better jobs which more pay.  Do your best to get as many necessary certifications in your speciality as you can and ensure you receive them from the required certification bodies.

Plan Your Destinations In Advance

Before you choose a location for an assignment, you need to plan very well and ensure you can resume work immediately. In some hospitals, you will be required to obtain a license which allows you to practice in the state. These hospitals typically expect travel nurses assigned to the hospital to start immediately, which is impossible if they are yet to get a license.

It’s better to get a license in two or more states before starting out so you could have a good number of places to pick from initially. With a compact nursing license, you will be able to practice in more number of states, giving you a large range.

Understand the Pay Package

Unlike the pay package for regular staff nurses, that of travel nursing is very different. The total take home pay is comprised of the hourly pay rates, accommodation allowance, travel stipend, medical benefits, and other minor allowances. When comparing pay packages, you need to factor in these spread out allowances and not just the flat hourly pay rates. With every additional stipend or allowance you are getting, your hourly pay rates decrease in most cases.

Get a New Resume

Resumes used for travel nursing are different from those used in regular staff nursing. There are more than 25 details to add to the resume including little things such as the number of beds in the hospital and their references. Your agency and hospitals need some of these details in order to ascertain how dedicated and focused you are on the job. There are some great resources online on travel nursing resumes and will enable you to come up with one effortlessly.

Arrange Your Paperwork Properly

Before you join a travel nursing agency, you will be required to provide front and back copies of your licenses, employment documents and certifications. You may also be required to provide copies of some clinical records like physical exams and immunizations.  These take some time to get together.

Make copies of all these required documents in advance and get them ready. Obtain all the records you may need from your current employer and have them ready too. You can save these documents as PDFs and back them up on a cloud storage system. This opens up access to these files anytime you need them and also keeps them safe.

Don’t Leave Home without the Important Documents

Once you receive your first assignment and you are ready to move to the location, take care not to forget all the important documents. Files like your driver’s license, social security card, roadside assistance agreement, car insurance, the contact information of the recruiting company, and other necessary certificates are needed for easier settling down at the new location. If you have any important prescriptions, travel with them too, alongside a small first aid kit. Pack enough clothes and do not forget your toiletries.

Register with a Good Travel Nursing agency

Your travel nursing agency determines how your travel nursing experience will be. For the best experience, you need to register with a good agency. There are many travel nursing agencies with websites online which are easily accessible. Good agencies uphold the interest of the nurse first, offer good pay, and allow for more flexibility.

It’s better to register with multiple agencies and not just one. Besides the different benefits you have access to, no one agency has contract agreements with all the hospitals in the state and country. Registering with multiple agencies guarantees you more access to jobs in most areas of the state and country.  You also increase your negotiating strength when you work with several agencies. The recruiters know you have several options and they will provide you with their best services. You can also easily register with another agency if they are no longer comfortable with your services.

Infographic provided by SkyBridge Healthcare, a top company to get traveling physical therapy jobs

Wrapping Up

Your experience and career depend solely on you and your ability to make smart decisions.

This is the most essential thing to keep in mind while planning for the transition to travel nursing. Register with the right travel nursing agency, plan ahead of time, stay focused, and select the right assignment locations.

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