Many people would love to have a job that pays well and that allows them to see more of the country or maybe even the world. A job that ticks all those boxes is that of the travel nurse. These professionals fill in for other nurses who are on maternity leave, are on sick leave or are absent for any other reason. Additionally, they are called in whenever there is a large emergency or a shortage of staff. In order to become a travel nurse, you must first become a RN. The duties of your job will be in line with the specialty that you achieved. Indeed, the role is very similar to that of an RN, only that they need to travel often.
You can even work outside of the country. However, travel nurses earn the most when they work in this country. The job comes with fantastic benefits, not in the least the fact that you will earn invaluable and varied professional experience. Plus, you get to experience new places and meet all sorts of interesting new people.
Education – How to Become a Travel Nurse
Travel nurses must be registered nurses (RNs). This can be done in three different ways:
- You can attend a nursing school based in a hospital. This pathway takes up to four years to complete.
- An ADN, which takes around two years to complete. You can then study for a further one or two years to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.
- A BSN, which takes four years to complete.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), anyone who wants to have a career in nursing should hold a Bachelor’s degree as a bare minimum. To then become an RN, you must first pass the N-CLEX exam. Once you have done that, you can start a specialization, choosing such areas as cardiac care or pediatrics. Once you complete that, you can get a Master’s Degree, making you an MSN nurse.
To be a travel nurse, you will be expected to be an RN at the very least. As such, although holding an MSN is beneficial, it is not an absolute requirement. However, most employers will want to see that you have at least one year practical work experience after your degree before they will consider hiring you.
Online Options for Training
Our world is getting increasingly virtual, which means we are usually enable to study online as well. For a long time, it was not possible to do this with nursing, because it is a practical job. However, things have changed and it is now possible to study online as well. Indeed, some do not require any practical attendance. However, in order to achieve your RN registration, you must have gained some clinical experience as well. If you study online, this usually means getting a place in a health setting in your local community. Once you have your RN, you can do full RN to BSN or RN to MSN programs online. This is because these types of training are designed for people who are already employed in the field, meaning they have the practical experience behind them. Additionally, accelerated programs are available, meaning you could advance your career in a very quick way. However, these programs tend to require students to have a high GPA and a larger amount of practical experience in the field.
Getting Your License
In order to get your license, you must pass your N-CLEX exam. The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is in place so that standards are maintained across states. It is also the NLC that allows a travel nurse to work in multiple states. However, they do have to make sure their license is up to date and they must be able to demonstrate that they have taken part in sufficient continuous professional education. Additionally, different states have different requirements, which means that nurses should always keep abreast of news on the NLC website to make sure they meet all the requirements for the states in which they may be deployed.
Prerequisites to be Accepted on Travel Nurse Training
- Travel nurses have to be incredibly flexible, working in a range of different settings all over the country.
- They have to have fantastic communication skills, because they must be able to grasp not just medical needs of a patient, but also their social needs.
- They should have a real eye for detail and have fantastic analytical skills.
- If travel nurses work internationally, it is generally expected that they have a working knowledge of the local language
It is vital that you look into program accreditation. This is the only way to make sure your course is recognized in the country. In order to gain accreditation, schools have to go through a long and complicated process. If you also want financial help with the cost of your studies, then the school must be accredited. Furthermore, only accredited training can count towards further education.
Various accreditation bodies exist. When you sign up to a school, they will tell you which accrediting body they are registered with. However, do take the time to double check this yourself. Additionally, try to choose a school that has been accredited for a long time. The main bodies for accreditation are:
- The ACEN or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. You may also come across the term NLNAC, which is the previous name of the ACEN. This body accredits all nursing programs.
- The CCNE or Commission on Collegiate of Nursing Education, which is tasks with the accreditation of MSN and BSN programs.
You should also make sure that the school prepares you to take the N-CLEX. However, not all schools who offer this preparation are accredited. Because many of us now choose to study online, it is all too easy to accidentally choose a non-accredited school. Although you may still be able to take the N-CLEX after completing your education through a non-accredited college, you will find it very difficult to keep up with professional education. As a result, you will not be able to hold on to your license.
Becoming a Certified Travel Nurse
Once you have decided which degree program you want to follow and you have completed your training, you need to take the N-CLEX exam. This means you must apply for your license first through your state’s Board of Nursing. Eligibility varies on a state by state basis, so you must look into these.
Four “categories of needs” are identified within the N-CLEX:
- Creating a safe and effective care environment, focusing on things like infection control.
- Having psychological integrity, which demonstrates you can cope with the stresses of your job and that you can adapt to change.
- Health promotion and maintenance, which means your focus is on prevention and early intervention and not on curing problems.
- Physiological integrity, meaning you care for patients properly, putting their comfort first.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Travel Nurse?
The cost of becoming a travel nurse varies depending on your education pathway. You can expect to pay around $31,000 for your ADN degree. This is the cheapest option, but it isn’t sufficient to become a travel nurse. You will need to take part in various other types of training, which will make the overall cost higher. This is why a lot of people choose a number of bridging programs as well so that you can become an RN. Additionally, studying is about more than paying tuition fees. You will also have to pay for materials and your own costs of living.
Scholarships to Help You with the Cost of Studying
Financial aid and scholarships are available for student looking into a nursing degree. The education is very expensive, particularly if you want to study at a reputable university. You should look into the various bursaries and scholarships that are out there, as these will help you to get into the profession. All nursing degrees are covered by financial aid, as well as for specific medical programs.
Some of the scholarships you may want to look into include:
- NBNA Scholarship Program for Nursing
- Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarships
- Certified Background AACN Scholarship Program
- Dushan Komnenich PhD Scholarship in Nursing at Arizona State University
- McKnight Doctoral Fellowships
Working as a Travel Nurse
The duties and responsibilities you can expect as a travel nurse depend on the specialty you chose. For instance, as a surgery specialist, you will help out during surgeries. If you have a cardiac care specialization, you will work in the ICU or cardiac unit. You can have travel assignments that last anything from 8 weeks to a full year. However, most are 13 weeks in length on average. Usually, your housing will be part of your remuneration package, which tends to be arranged by a travel nursing company. One good resource for this is NurseTraveler, where you will also be able to look into international opportunities.
If you continue with your professional education, you can eventually become a nurse educator or a nurse practitioner. You can also gain further specialized certification so that you have an even more varied job. Being a travel nurse opens doors to unique educational, clinical and management careers.
The salary you can expect is generally higher than that of a regular RN. Additionally, you will have an excellent remuneration package that includes such things as housing, dental coverage, medical coverage, bonuses, meal subsidies and more. You are usually guaranteed a number of hours of work. The median salary for an RN in 2010 was $64,690, with a top 10% earning over $95,130. Because a travel nurse is more likely to work in critical situations, they are more likely to be in that top 10%.
There is a huge shortage of registered nurses at present. We have an aging population and people live longer because medical technology has advanced a lot. Furthermore, we are facing a nation-wide obesity epidemic. This means that there is an increased need for nurses as well. It is believed that the outlook for RNs predicts a job growth of 26% over the next few years, which also applies to travel nurses.