How To Become A Travel Nurse: A Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Your First Job
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How To Become A Travel Nurse: A Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Your First Job

September 4, 2019

The demand for travel nurses is higher than it has been at any other point in U.S. history. Approx. 87% of American adults are currently insured, and as the cost of providing patient care continues to rise, healthcare facilities are searching for ways to reduce their expenses.1 Travel nurses can earn more money during a 13-week assignment than full-time, permanent employees, but due to the short-term nature of their work, they are a less expensive option for hospitals, nursing homes, and smaller medical facilities throughout the United States.2 With a wide range of employment opportunities, flexible hours, and higher rates of pay than their local counterparts, travel nursing has become a lucrative career path for newly-licensed healthcare workers and experienced RNs who are ready for a change.

So how do I become a travel nurse?

With thousands of vacancies in the United States, it has never been easier for RNs to find travel nurse jobs in their preferred locations. If you are ready to pursue a new career in the healthcare industry, our step-by-step guide will show you how to become a travel nurse: 

Step 1: Meet The Requirements For A Travel Nurse Job In The United States

You will need to meet a specific set of requirements before you can become a travel nurse. The best candidates have an ASN or BSN from an accredited nursing school, a passing NCLEX score, and 1+ years of recent nursing experience; some RNs earn additional credentials, like Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and the NIH stroke certification, to stand out from the pack.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you are a newly-licensed nurse, you can start the application process after six months of full-time employment, but you won’t be able to get an assignment until you pay your dues.

Step 2: Decide What Your Ideal Assignment Would Be

If you meet all of the requirements to become a travel nurse in the United States, you will have a wide range of employment opportunities in the healthcare industry. There is a high demand for nurses in all fifty states, and travel nurses can choose assignments in large metropolitan areas, small towns, and vacation destinations across the country.

This is the perfect time for you to think about your options. Would you like to travel to the Hamptons during the summer, or work in Hawaii over the holidays? Are you interested in a lucrative position in California, or would you rather spend your time in a small community near the Great Lakes? Every region will have its perks, and you should consider the salary, housing, recreation, and working conditions in each of your preferred locations before you reach out to a nurse staffing agency.

Step 3: Choose The Best Nurse Staffing Agency For Your Needs

Nurse staffing agencies are the perfect choice for RNs who are searching for their first travel nurse job. Unlike hospitals, nursing homes, and short-term medical facilities, a nurse staffing agency will send your application to multiple employers at once. When their recruiters respond, you will have a wide range of job opportunities to choose from before you make the switch.

But every organization is different, and your options will be better if you work with one of the best nurse staffing agencies in the U.S. Take a look at the employee reviews and industry awards that each organization has received; the best agencies will prioritize patient care and the happiness of their recruits over short-term profits from dysfunctional healthcare providers.

Step 4: Create An Application That Stands Out From The Pack

With a shortage of qualified nurses in the United States, it has never been easier for RNs to find their first travel nurse jobs. But the best assignments go to candidates that have set themselves up for success, and you may need to polish up your resume before you can get a job in your ideal location.

Your online application will shape the way that your nurse staffing agency sees you, and by extension, the type of medical facilities that they refer you to. Invest time, energy, and if necessary, money into making your application stand out; you may decide to get a new certification in your nursing specialty, brush up on your skills, or apply for a nursing license in your preferred state.

Step 5: Prepare For Your Interview

Every nurse staffing agency has its own standards for the recruitment process. Some organizations will send your resume to the medical facilities that they work with, and in that case, you will have interviews with each of the employers in your preferred location; others will interview you directly and handle the placement process on their own. 

Either way, you need to make sure that you are prepared for the questions that they will ask. Make sure that you are ready to discuss your background, skills, and qualifications for a job in your ideal working environment; if you have the opportunity to talk to a recruiter at a local or regional medical facility, take the time to research the organization before your scheduled interview.

Step 6: Get Your First Assignment

When the interview process ends, your nurse staffing agency will give you a list of potential options. Weigh your choices carefully, and consider the length of the placement, rate of pay, and season before you make a decision. You may feel differently about a position in Chicago if the temperature drops below freezing, and your assignment in Miami could take a turn for the worst if there is a hurricane.

But don’t worry if you have too many options: your nurse manager will work with you to pick the right assignment for your career goals. The contract that they send you will stipulate the terms of your employment, including the length, salary, hours, bonus structure, and housing options that come with your position.

With thousands of job opportunities at local and regional medical facilities, this is the perfect time for you to start the application process — click on the button below to find your first travel nurse job.

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