Last fall, we featured common q&a’s for travel-based careers. As a follow-up, and with additional questions and answers, here is part two.
What does it take to become a travel nurse? Do I have enough experience? How long are the assignments? Where would I live? These are just a few of the questions that I am asked on a daily basis by healthcare professionals who are seeking information on a travel nursing career. I thought that it would be helpful to jot down some of these most common questions that I encounter. That way, you, or someone you know, can make an informed decision on whether a travel-based career is the way to go.
1. What are the requirements for becoming a travel nurse?
Typically speaking, facilities request a minimum of at least two years of experience working as an RN. This can vary though depending on your area of specialty, the type of unit, and the facility.
2. Why is there a need for travel nurses?
Typically, the need for travel nurses is a result of an increase in the patient census or from a decrease in current staff – due to vacations, maternity leaves, resignations, retirement and the like. Hospitals will also utilize travelers to help while they are hiring new staff and putting new permanent employees through orientation. Travel nurses help hospitals quickly increase staffing levels without compromising the quality of patient care.
3. How do I get licensed to work in each state?
Each state has its own regulations in terms of licensing requirements. Many states participate in the nurse licensure compact, so if you have a nursing license in one of the compact states (and your permanent residence is in the same state), then you can work in any of the other compact states off of that same license. Super easy! The compact states consist of AR, AZ, CO, DE, ID, IA, KY, ME, MD, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, and WI. If the compact states do not apply to you, then you will need to apply for a license by endorsement for the state where you will be working. This can be a fairly simple and quick process or long and cumbersome, depending on the state. Your Recruitment Specialist is the best person to guide you as to how to go about obtaining a license for the state where you will be going.
4. Do I always have to work night shift as a travel nurse?
Definitely not! Although many of the available assignments are for the night shift, it is not the only option out there. If you typically work day shifts, don’t fret! You should be able to find the shift of your preference in a great location and at a reputable hospital.
5. How long is the entire job search process from start to finish? And is everything done by telephone?
It depends! Typically, from the time you fill out an application with a company, it is feasible to land a position within 1-2 weeks. Generally speaking, facilities are searching for RNs who can start a position within 4 weeks. So, be prepared for things to move fairly quickly from the time that you decide to take the plunge into the world of travel nursing.
Nurse Managers conduct telephone interviews, which can last anywhere from 10–45 min (depending on the management/interview style). Because this is your only chance to make a good first impression, be sure to review some helpful interview tips with your Recruitment Specialist prior to landing the phone interview. Generally speaking, a job offer is made within hours of the completion of the phone call. In addition, all correspondence with your Recruitment Specialist is done by phone throughout your entire career as a travel nurse. I have worked with some nurses for over 10 years, and have never actually met them in person!