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ProLink Travel Nurse Series: Frequently Asked Questions

January 2, 2023

Are you interested in starting your career as a travel nurse? We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions by travel nurses at the beginning of their careers.

What are the Qualifications to Become a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses need the same qualifications as RNs to accept a contract assignment. That means graduating from an accredited nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain a nursing license. Many employers prefer you to have 18 to 24 months of work experience in addition to your nursing license before you can get hired to work your first travel nursing job.

Do You Need a BSN to Start a Travel Nursing Career?

While an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is the minimum degree required to become a travel nurse, many employers prefer that you hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). More employers are seeking BSN holders to fill nursing shortages around the country.

What Characteristics Are Required for Successful Travel Nursing?

To be a successful travel nurse and see advancement in your career you must have certain characteristics. A travel nurse should be flexible, positive, and adventurous. To make an impression on facility administrators and win more contract extensions, you should possess excellent clinical and diagnostic testing skills and adapt to situations quickly, even in chaotic environments.

What Medical Facilities Regularly Need Travel Nurses?

Nursing shortages have affected medical facilities around the country, including hospitals, clinics, outpatient surgery centers, labs, oncology centers, and many more.

What Do Travel Nursing Employers Look for on Your Resume?

Facility hiring managers like to see work experience in your specialty.

How Do You Obtain a License for an Out-of-State Assignment?

Before you can begin travel nursing, you need to obtain a registered nurse (RN) license valid in your state. After obtaining your lisense, you are ready to work with a staffing agency to find a job that fits your needs and wants. That agency will provide you with job opportunities as they become available. If you land a job in another state, you must apply for a new license according to that state’s board of nursing requirements, or you can obtain a compact license. 

A compact license is a multi-state license for states that have joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which helps travel nurses jump from state to state without applying for new licensure. Currently, 34 states have joined the NLC, with more being added all the time. Your recruiter can point you in the right direction when applying for and obtaining a new license. In some cases, licenses can be expedited to allow you to start working quickly in the new contracted role.

Can You Choose Where to Go as a Travel Nurse?

Yes. When you become a travel nurse, you get to pick the state, medical facility, and medical care setting you wish to work within.

What is the Typical Duration of a Travel Nurse Assignment?

The typical duration for a travel nursing assignment is 13 weeks. You also may have the option of extending your contract in some cases.

What Should You Expect on Your First Day?

Your travel nursing agency recruiter will provide you with instructions regarding your first day on the job. They will tell you everything you need to know, like where to park, if there are costs associated with parking, if there is a dress code, and who to report to, among other important information.

Can You Take Time Off Between Assignments?

Yes. You have total freedom over how often and how long you wish to work as a travel nurse. You are free to take weeks off to enjoy life between assignments. You can then come back when you are fully rested. Remember that you only get paid when you work, so consider that when planning your breaks.

How Many Hours Do Travel Nurses Typically Work Per Week?

Facility contracts differ depending on the location. However, you can usually expect to work around 40 hours per week. Travel nurses can choose five 8-hour shifts, four 10-hour shifts, or three 12-hour shifts.

What is the Average Salary of a Travel Nurse?

While the average annual salary for a travel nurse is $88,320, your pay will depend on the facility, location, and nursing specialty.

It should be noted that while you can make more than a standard nurse, you don’t get paid time off or shift differentials as hospital nurses do. Time-and-a-half and double-time for holiday pay may come into play, but those will need to be specific in your contract.

Do Travel Nurses Get Benefits and Retirement?

When you initially sign on with a travel nurse staffing agency, your recruiter will inform you of all the benefits you qualify for. Most agencies offer health, vision, and dental insurance, as well as 401k. Travel nurses are also reimbursed for travel expenses such as public transportation, meals, and lodging up to a certain maximum. Every agency is different, so make sure you get all the details in writing, including your bill rate and how your benefits affect your base pay.

Do You Have to Travel Alone as a Travel Nurse?

Absolutely not! You can bring a companion, family members, or even your pet with you on assignment. You may have to pay for an extra bedroom and/or a pet deposit. But, it is common for travel nurses to visit a new locale on assignment with a spouse, children, a friend, or a pet.

How Long Does It Take to Find Your First Travel Nurse Job?

Many travel nursing agencies offer online applications. Once you complete your application, your recruiter will begin searching for assignments that match your experience, skills, and specialty and the locations where you want to travel.

When a job becomes available, your recruiter will reach out and present the job to you. You’ll then have a phone or video interview. If you pass the interview, you’ll receive a job offer. The process can take as little as a few weeks for you to start working on your very first travel nursing assignment.

Do Travel Nurse Agencies Offer Continuing Education?

Some agencies offer continuing education courses to travel nurses on assignment. Ask your agency recruiter for details.

What Should be in Your Travel Nurse Contract?

Any contract you are offered should include the number of guaranteed hours, pay, and time off. Make sure you read your contract over carefully prior to signing.

Do Travel Nurses Pay for Their Own Housing?

When you work with ProLink, you will receive a housing stipend to secure your accommodations. 

Do Travel Nurses Pay Their Travel Expenses?

Travel nursing agencies offer travel reimbursements if you fulfill the 50-mile rule. That means you must travel 50 miles beyond your permanent residence. You can take assignments close to home, but you may not be reimbursed for expenses. Travel reimbursements on assignment can include public transportation, meals, lodging, and more. Ask your recruiter for details as well as when reimbursements are paid out.

What Should You Do About Mail When Traveling to an Assignment?

Travel nurses have options for how to handle mail while on assignment. You can forward your mail each time you travel to a new area, maintain a permanent address at a family member’s or friend’s house and have your mail forwarded there, or rent a private post office box.

How Do You Handle Banking When Traveling?

Most travel nursing agencies provide direct deposit, allowing you to use your current bank.

Are Travel Nurses in Demand?

Yes. Nursing positions and travel nursing assignments are available nationwide. 

Still Have Questions?

Contact ProLink Healthcare to learn more or fill out our easy online application to get started.

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