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What Exactly is Travel Nurse and How to Become One?

By Anne Kennedy, Director of Human Resources

Healthcare facilities across the country are experiencing critical staffing shortages. It is not a secret that travel nursing has become a popular choice amongst facilities to fill those gaps. But is it right for you? What travel nursing pros and cons should you consider?

What Is a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses are RNs who work in temporary nursing roles. Rather than being hired by a single healthcare facility directly, these nurses typically work with staffing agencies to fill in-demand positions.

Since travel nurses work on a non-permanent basis, they often move from one facility to another at the end of their contract. This gives nurses the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and locations over a relatively short period of time.

Travel nursing is a great option for those looking to:

  • Earn more money
  • Explore different areas in the country
  • Gain experience in multiple healthcare settings
  • Have a flexible schedule

We will discuss all of these benefits in more detail below.

What Do Travel Nurses Do?

Travel nurses can perform all the same duties as a permanent RN. The only difference between them is that travel nurses are brought in to fill staffing gaps on a temporary basis.

So, like other registered nurses, travel nurses do everything from administering medication to monitoring conditions to educating patients.

It is also worth noting that specialty travel nurses are even more in demand, allowing healthcare facilities to fill advanced roles. For example, travel nurses can fill specialty roles as well.

Why Is Travel Nursing Important?

Travel nursing is important because it helps healthcare facilities fill critical staffing shortages. There are a several reasons for these shortages, including but not limited to:

  • Unexpected leaves of absence
  • Seasonal patient population fluctuations
  • Maternity leave

Since the demand to fill these roles is crucial, your travel nurse salary will be higher than that of permanent RNs.

Travel nurses can also help to reduce costs for hospitals. For example, travel nursing lessens the need for overtime pay and reduces turnover costs.

As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few benefits travel nurses can take advantage of.

Let’s take a closer look at the top four reasons to choose travel nursing.

1. Higher Pay and Great Benefits

As with any career, earnings and benefits are always a key factor to which path you take. If salary is your main priority, you should consider travel nursing. For the most part, travel nurses make a significant amount money than their staff nurse counterparts.

Additionally, travel nurses typically have access to a wide array of benefits, including:

  • Housing stipends and agency-placed housing
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel and meal reimbursement

2. Explore New Places

While salary is often a key reason why RNs choose travel nursing, it is certainly not the only reason.

Another great aspect of travel nursing is that you get to live in and explore new places. Travel nursing opportunities are available in just about every location you can imagine in the United States.

For example, you could complete one contract in a rural location in the Midwest for a few months, and then spend your next couple of months working in a big city in the Northeast.

The travel opportunities are truly endless, and the freedom to choose where you live is one of the greatest things about becoming a travel nurse.

3. Build Your Resume

Just as you will have the opportunity to live in different areas, you will also have the option to explore different healthcare facilities and learn from medical professionals around the country.

It is likely that you will eventually want to settle down with a full-time, permanent RN position. To become the strongest candidate possible, travel nursing allows you to gain a multitude of hands-on experiences.

The ability to work these contract positions displays to employers that you can thrive under any conditions.

If you want to work in a specific hospital or one that is close to your permanent residence but there are no openings available, travel nursing allows you to keep working in your specialty while you wait for a new position to become available.

4. Have A More Flexible Schedule

One more of the most important reasons to consider becoming a travel nurse is that you will have more control over your schedule.

You will probably have to work a 40-hour work week regardless of whether you are in a permanent or temporary position, but travel nursing allows you the freedom to work for a few months and then take some off. But part time positions are available if that best suits your needs. For Adventure RN-This is not the case.

While you may have the opportunity to extend your contract depending on the needs of the facility you work at, most contracts end after a designated period of time, typically from 13 to 26 weeks.

Of course, you do not have to take time off between assignments if you do not want to. However, if you need a break, travel nursing allows you to take the time you need to recharge.

Is Travel Nursing Worth It?

Overall, it is safe to say that travel nursing offers a lot of value. From higher earnings to the opportunity to explore new places, there is a lot to enjoy about this career pathway.

Additionally, you will provide support to healthcare facilities that are in need of your services, which can be rewarding in and of itself.

If you are ready to start your journey as a travel nurse, then click here to start traveling today! Horizon Health’s Adventure RN program offers opportunities across our national network of over 200 behavioral health facilities.

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Contact us to learn more about how Horizon Health can help you start a behavioral health program or take an existing program to new heights.