How to Become a Traveling Nurse
Being a nurse can be a very demanding and tough job. The long hours, the stress, and the responsibility for other people’s health and lives can be quite a daunting burden to carry.
However, people who manage to deal with this burden often say how rewarding and exciting their careers are. If you’re looking for a way to add to the excitement in your career as a nurse, perhaps a contract as a traveling nurse might be a suitable position for you. We reached out to our experts to tell us more about what it is like to be a travel nurse and what you need to become one.
Professional Credentials You Will Need
In order to become a traveling nurse, you need to be, well, a nurse. At the very least, you need an active RN license in order to be considered a viable candidate. Naturally, if you have a diploma from a program such as LPN (licensed practical nurse), or an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing – those are viable, too.
Even though a bachelor’s degree in nursing is not a requirement for the job, there are certain facilities that might impose (or at least imply) that they would prefer candidates with this level of education. So, if you’re looking for a travel nurse position in a specific hospital or a specific city, look into their job ads beforehand.
Nurse License Requirements
If you’re a practicing nurse in the US, you surely know that the license issued by your state is not a valid document in other states, so if you’re thinking of taking on a job in a different state, you may have to re-apply for a license in that state. This process costs time and money, which is why there has been strong pushback against it.
The result is the Nurse Licensure Compact – an agreement between over 35 states and territories that enables any licensed nurse in those areas to use their home state’s license to find employment in any of the other territories without needing to re-license.
Getting your certification as an RN or BSN or something similar is the most important qualification you need to be a travel nurse. However, it’s not the only one. All nurses that want to sign a contract with a travel nurse agency need to have a BLS certificate, as well as ACLS. These two certificates need to be refreshed every two years, so make sure you’re up to date on that.
Apart from these basic requirements that every nurse needs to fill, you may need some additional ones, depending on the field you specialize in. If you’re going for a pediatric nurse job, there are the PALS, and other specializations require other certifications. Look into those before you apply for a job in order to avoid rejection and disappointment.
Even though you may think that a traveling nurse job sounds like an idea for a young, fresh out of school nurse – that’s not really the case. Most of the job postings require at least one year of experience in order to apply, whereas some might ask for 2 or even 3.
The main reason for this condition is the very nature of the job. Apart from bearing the stress and responsibility of a nursing job, traveling nurses also need to be able to adapt to their new environment quickly and cope with both of these simultaneously. Medical facilities posting travel nurse jobs simply don’t want to take a chance on the untested and unproven individuals.
If a life of a traveling nurse sounds like something you would be interested in, make sure you check all of the boxes and consult a travel nurse agency to find you the posting of your dreams.