Are You Qualified to Become a Travel Nurse?
In most career fields, you need to be X before you can become Y. The health care field is much the same, with a few exceptions. For example, the prerequisites for becoming a travel nurse are non-prohibitive. If you’re a nurse today, you could very well become a travel nurse tomorrow. As long as you have proper nursing accreditations and licensing, there’s bound to be a place that needs your skills.
If you’ve got a passion for patient care, love the prospect of travel, and want to expand your professional horizons, travel nursing awaits.
You’re more qualified than you think
Travel nursing requires experience more than anything else. If you’re a new grad, it’s best to get your feet wet in a facility first, before thinking about travel nursing. For this reason, hospitals and therefore, agencies (HPC included) require a minimum two years’ nursing experience before becoming a travel nurse.
Your education is also important. While some facilities accept travel nurses with their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), more and more facilities seek out nurses with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Something else to keep in mind is your focus. When applying for a travel nursing assignment, you must have two years’ experience in the specialty field you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for an OR travel nurse position, you’ll need two years of OR RN experience.
Occasionally you might encounter an assignment that requires previous experience as a travel nurse. You might have to pass up a few assignments like these when you’re just starting out, at least until you’ve got a few assignments under your belt.
Get acclimated before taking an assignment
One of the biggest barriers to a travel nursing career is in your own mind. Many nurses fear the unknown of a new facility and new staff, or are uneasy about being out on their own. These things can be hard to overcome, but if you’re willing, travel nursing is truly rewarding. You just need to get acclimated to the idea of a traveling job before you actually accept it.
One option is to try to become a float nurse at your current hospital first. You’ll artificially experience what it’s like to be a travel nurse without leaving home. Every day is a new experience with new people, and you’ll learn a few skills that’ll make the transition to travel nursing even easier. Conversely, if you enjoy a particular aspect of your job, consider specializing. You’ll get the two years of experience necessary for travel nursing and feel confident about your focus as you look for opportunities.
Know a current or former travel nurse? Tap them for their experiences and get the inside scoop about what life as a nomadic nurse is like. Having someone to answer your burning questions will put your mind at ease. You’ll get the information you need to mentally and professionally prepare yourself for your next endeavor.
Take the plunge
Don’t convince yourself you’re not cut out to be a travel nurse before you even try. You’re likely to find you’re more qualified than you realize, and that travel nursing is more rewarding than you ever thought possible. All you need to do is take the first step and follow the path to adventure in the world of travel nursing.