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The Role of Travel Nurses


Travel nursing offers many opportunities and benefits, but caregivers must have special traits to work in the field. Medical institutions pay travel nurses well to incentivize them to join the talent pool and fulfill acute staffing needs. Within the travel nursing field, there are many agencies and specialties to choose.

Special Personalities for a Special Field

Travel nurses complete temporary work assignments at various medical facilities. [1] They must earn the same endorsements as full time nurses. Most hiring agencies require travel nurses to have at least one year of work experience. Caregivers must manage many variables when working as a travel nurse. Learning the licensing requirements where they want to work is the first step in preparing for the role. Some states require a certain amount of job experience, and others require continuing education credits.

Travel nurses must perform their job efficiently and quickly adapt to new workplace settings and policies. [2] Some caregivers who desire to enter the field prepare for the experience by working as a floating nurse at their current institution. Financial management skills are critical for travel nurses, because many unforeseen needs can arise when moving to a new location. Because nursing agency policies vary, caregivers must keep detailed records of their immunizations, shots and health screens available on demand. Nurses must also keep their Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certifications current, in addition to any specialty certifications.

Rewards Fitting the Challenge

Hospital workloads vary annually. [3] Medical institutions generally employ travel nurses to meet these fluctuating needs for three-month commitments. If the need persists, the institution will extend the commitment for another three months. If the need regresses, travel nurses are free to pursue other openings. Institutions typically hire travel nurses for high demand units, such as:
• Intensive care
• Emergency rooms
• Operating rooms
• Progressive care
• Cardiac telemetry
• Neonatal and pediatric care

Some institutions hire travel nurses for full time roles once they exhibit work proficiency, while other establishments hire them to bring experienced talent into their organizations.
Medical institutions expect travel nurses to gain their bearings in one week or less. Society’s increasing medical needs are increasing demand in the field. Caregivers’ employment length as a traveling nurse varies; most spend one to ten years in the field, while others stay longer.

More than Financial Rewards

Travel nursing is the ideal career path for caregivers that want to experience new environments regularly. These professionals can choose to work at nearby institutions or travel the world. In the United States, there are over 400 travel-nursing agencies.

Alternatively, nurses can work as independent contractors and accept assignments directly from medical institutions. Most travel nurses have a genuine interest in how various institutions operate. They earn $65,000 to $90,000 annually and receive special tax incentives. Some agencies also provide health insurance, housing stipends, 401(k) contributions, concierge service or travel stipends and cover airfare and relocation fees.

Provided housing can range from an extended stay hotel to a furnished apartment. Some travelling nurses prefer to make their own living arrangements. Larger travel nursing agencies maintain housing developments to provide the best possible living conditions for their staff members. To attract talent, some agencies also pay utilities and other expenses, and unless otherwise requested, each nurse receives private living quarters.

Career Paths and Agency Selection

Caregivers choosing a travel-nursing agency should evaluate the agencies based on performance. [5] The National Association of Healthcare Organizations establishes standards and ethics among the agencies, while the Joint Commission on Accreditation provides agency certification. It is wise to affiliate with an agency that demands high-performance from their nurses.

Prospective travel nurses must also investigate an agency’s history. It is important to know whether the firm pays consistently, and if they provide sufficient services to assist with relocation. Travel nurses should also make sure that the agency they affiliate with provides worker’s compensation and liability insurance.

Travel nursing offers many opportunities and benefits and is an exciting and enlightening opportunity for the right candidates. Nurses that have a taste for adventure and learning new skills thrive in this field. Caregiving organizations pay these professionals top rates to fill short-term staffing needs, and the positions sometime lead to full time employment. As patient workloads increase, the demand for travel nurses continues to rise.

Learn More

Adventist University started building its solid foundation for nursing education in 1908 when it began training nurses so healthcare could be provided for more people. Today they offer cutting edge education and experienced faculty dedicated to helping individuals interested in pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing degree.


1. Nurse Journal. 10 Ways to Prepare for a Career in Travel Nursing. [Web Page]. 2016. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2016.
2. National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations. What Is a Travel Healthcare Professional? National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations [Web Page]. 2016. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2016.
3. Brocato C. Have License, Will Travel. [Web Page]. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2016.

4. Nelson L. Benefits and Opportunities as a Travel Nurse. [Web Page]. July 8, 2015. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2016.

5. MedPro Healthcare Staffing. Travel Nurse? Why You Should Build Experience in These In-demand Specialties. MedPro Healthcare Staffing [Web Page]. April 22, 2016. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2016.