Take to the Open Road: How to Go from Staff RN to Travel Nurse

NursingMay 23, 2018

When you spend all your time focusing on getting accepted into—and then through—a nursing program, whether it is an online nursing school or a nursing program at a bricks-and-mortar campus, it is not surprising that you may not have spent much time thinking about what comes afterward. Or maybe you have. If so, chances are you have envisioned working in a busy outpatient clinic, or on a hospital ward. After all, that is where a majority of nurses find employment.

Of course, there are other jobs—and work venues—open to nurses that do not involve working in hospitals or clinics. Whether it is serving in prisons, the military, school districts, nursing schools, or a research facility, nurses fill a wide range of diverse roles.

And then there is travel nursing. As a travel nurse, you could be among the healthcare professionals who travel from venue to venue, filling in as a temporary staff nurse in various institutions, from small hospitals to large university teaching hospitals.

The Open Road

You may not be qualified to serve as a travel nurse immediately after graduating from your nursing program, but with some experience, and the will to try new things, you can eventually embrace this opportunity. Being a travel nurse involves a certain degree of flexibility; the ability to adapt to a new work culture, and quite possibly, to jump into the deep end as soon as you arrive. Your first day on the job may be exhausting as you attempt to get up to speed, while avoiding wading into any workplace drama.

The need to hit the ground running is inherent to the nature of travel nursing. Institutions are willing to pay a premium to gain access to experienced, qualified nurses from afar who can dive in and begin providing quality care as soon as they arrive.

Successful travel nurses who have embraced this lifestyle recommend that you approach travel nursing with a few caveats in mind. For starters, it is important to work with a good travel nurse staffing company. They can facilitate obtaining any licenses or certifications you may need, help find you a job, streamline payment, and even help you find housing. Not all companies offer all these services, however.

Make a Wish List

Veterans of travel nursing suggest that, rather than choosing randomly, it may be better to compile a list of destinations that appeal to you. This may serve you better than throwing a dart at a map, for some practical reasons. For instance, different states have different qualification and certification requirements.

By selecting your destination targets beforehand, you will allow yourself adequate time to prepare to meet those requirements and comply with any other state regulations. Note that Florida, Texas and California are among the top picks as travel nursing destinations. These states are also among the states most in need of travel nurses.

Compensation and Tax Issues

You will need to assess what impact your work in a distant state may have on your tax situation. Staying ahead of any tax liabilities can help you avoid any unpleasant shocks at the end of the tax year. The issue of compensation will require a clear eye and some careful examination, too. While hourly pay tends to be greater than that available to staff nurses, when housing expenses are factored in, pay may not be as great as you first thought.

Travel Nurse Across America is one of the nation’s top ten travel nurse staffing agencies. They offer a $2,500 scholarship for an individual student seeking to earn their BSN. For more information, click here.