The Guide to Starting a Travel Nurse Career
You’ve heard that there are many benefits to a career as a travel nurse. The thought of experiencing different places around the United States is certainly appealing. You have your associate’s degree. Is this enough to secure a career in travel nursing? Will you really enjoy a career as a travel nurse? Where will it take you?
In this article, we discuss what you need to know to make the best career choice for you.
Is a Career as a Travel Nurse Right for You?
Think about all the things you love about nursing, and then sprinkle these incredible advantages on top:
- Flexibility to suit you
- Great salary, with a higher hourly rate
- Travel the U.S.
- Travel expenses covered
- Explore specialties
- Gain new skills
- Meet new people
- Minimized work politics
- Job satisfaction – nurse where you’re most needed
Travel nursing allows you to advance your nursing career while enjoying the lifestyle, salary, and other benefits that are attractive to you. But is there the demand for your skills, experience, and talents?
Travel Nursing Is Booming
Job security is another crucial element to choosing the right career. So how stable is travel nursing?
While the use of travel nurses has been utilized for years, the year 2020 brought travel nursing into the spotlight. The pandemic hit, and healthcare facilities battled to find nurses for their frontline care – so much so, licensing regulations changed to allow travel nurses to reach assignments easier to support facilities.
Behind the driving force of the pandemic, other world events saw surging increases in the need for travel nurses to ramp up staffing, including:
- Wildfire relief
- Hurricane season
- Expected annual spikes in demand
As the world battled to put things right, the healthcare system – with its army of travel nurses – patched the U.S. back up again.
2021 and beyond will continue to require the incredible skills and care of our travel nurses. COVID variants are evolving, and we are fighting back with the biggest vaccination rollout in history.
Facilities need the manpower. Yet, they’re struggling to fill their staffing levels:
- The American Nurses Association says more nursing jobs will be available in 2022 than any other profession in the U.S.
- WHO reports an additional 1.1 million registered nurses are needed
- The BLS forecasts that nursing will be one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. through to 2029
It’s clear travel nurses will continue to remain a pillar of American healthcare in 2021. You’ll be fulfilling a heroic solution to providers and invaluable care to patients, with job satisfaction and an extremely healthy work/life balance.
The question is, how do you go about becoming a travel nurse with an associate’s degree?
4 Steps to Become a Travel Nurse with an Associate’s Degree
You know travel nursing is right for you, and that you’ll be in demand. You have your associate’s degree. Here’s what to do next:
Step 1: Become an RN
When you’ve graduated with your associate’s degree, you need to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN). On passing this and meeting the board of requirements for your state, you’re eligible to become an RN.
Step 2: Gain Credentials and Experience
Start by obtaining Basic Life Support (BSL) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) – two essential credentials to allow you to join a staffing agency. You should also have at least one year of experience under your belt – though two years or more is preferable.
Ensure you have the credentials required for expert fields that will increase your value and job satisfaction.
Step 3: Apply for a Compact Nursing License
You’ll also need to obtain multiple state licenses – the more you have, the more opportunities you can access.
Wherever you nurse, you must have a license to do so. The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows RNs to hold one license that covers numerous states. You can check out which states have enacted and implemented the NLC through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, or speak with us at Loyal Source.
Note that the NLC doesn’t cover the entire U.S., so please check your individual state’s requirements. If you don’t live in a compact state, individual licenses will be required for the states you wish to work in.
Step 4: Contact Loyal Source
Now it’s time to get in touch with the experts who can join all the dots together. At Loyal Source, we give you all the support and guidance you need. We:
- Manage and collate paperwork and certifications for employers
- Give you expert support with resumes and interviews
- Match you up to rewarding assignments that suit your individual needs
- Provide assistance and protection, with some great yet crucial benefits
- Act as your wingman no matter where you are, scheduling assignments to suit
You’ve got everything in motion, but are you ready to become a travel nurse?
Are You Ready for a Career as a Travel Nurse?
You have the qualifications, experience, and desire for life as a travel nurse. Before you rush to apply, make sure you are emotionally prepared. You’re going to be away from home, meeting different people, and regularly experiencing change in what you do and where. Take into consideration:
Ask yourself if there are any personal obligations that may not fit well with life as a travel nurse. Think about:
- Immediate family – do they support your absence, or are they willing to travel with you?
- Does anyone depend on you for their care?
- Are you happy to leave your permanent home unattended for weeks at a time?
- Are you good with financial management?
- Do you have your own health needs that are location-specific?
Travel nursing usually attracts those who are comfortable experiencing change. Rather than assume you are, run an honest self-assessment and consider whether you have these typical travel nurse attributes:
- Flexible and easy-going
- A people person
- Responsible and reliable
- Doesn’t rely on direction
If you feel elated about a new career you feel confident in, you’re likely to enjoy travel nursing for the long term.
Use Travel Nursing to Grow Your Nursing Career
Starting a career in travel nursing is only the beginning of your journey. Here are ways you can use travel nursing to nourish and nurture a strong career in nursing:
Maintain Your License
You must make sure you maintain your licenses and manage renewals, so that you never miss out on the best assignments. Some states also require nurses to obtain Continued Education Units (CEUs) in specific areas, such as HIV awareness and pain management. Keep a close eye on requirements for each state to ensure you stay above board.
Earn While You Learn
Think now about how you want to progress in your career, and how you can achieve it. You may want to consider paths that require a Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree, for example. Travel nursing can accommodate your learning as you earn and gain experience.
Learn New Skills on the Job
In travel nursing you’ll be exposed to many different – and new – techniques, practices, and technologies, significantly improving your resume. You’ll also learn more about your abilities and interests, strengthening your career vision.
Take the First Step to a Rewarding Career as a Travel Nurse
The life of a travel nurse is highly rewarding, both during your shift and in your personal life. You now feel assured that you’ll also have stability, and, with good management and the help of a specialist staffing agency, you’ll have assignments lined up well in advance. You schedule time off for when suits your personal needs and dreams, whether that’s to progress professionally, spend time with family, switch off and recuperate, or travel your new-found favorite state.
You now know exactly what you need to do to achieve this lifestyle that is possible as a travel nurse. You’ve double-checked you’re emotionally and responsibly good to go, and you know how to maintain and strive for a great career.
You’ll have more questions, such as how much you could earn and where you could work. The answers are unique to you. To arrange a confidential chat to discuss your options in travel nursing, contact us at Loyal Source. We can’t wait to hear from you.