The various nursing occupations that are integral to modern medical care offer individuals the ability to earn a good living and enjoy a fulfilling career helping people of all ages get well. Every nurse career offers a special combination of a decent salary and exciting work with all different kinds of people, but there is one category of nurse jobs that also allows those who have graduated from an LPN program or RN program to see the world. This category is travel nursing, which allows those who have successfully completed a nursing education and have attained licensure to take nursing positions in many different places around the globe.
What is Travel Nursing?
Travel nursing gets its name from the fact that it allows nurses who may be licensed in one state to travel elsewhere for a nursing job. As those who have applied to several nursing programs understand, there is a shortage of nurses in the United States and even the world over. This shortage is felt more acutely in some areas than in others, and travel nursing allows hospitals and clinics who are in desperate need of nurses to fill nurse jobs with individuals who live elsewhere. Travel nurses typically fill a short-term need for nurses in another region, and they may sign contracts to work in a hospital, clinic, or other setting for anywhere between several weeks to a few years. They may go anywhere in the world, but U.S.-licensed nurses typically travel to locations within the United States to fulfill a nursing need.
Areas in need typically find travel nurses who have attained the requisite qualifications through traditional or online nursing programs by contacting a travel nurse agency. Qualified nurses who have graduated from one of the many accredited nursing schools sign with one of these agencies, and hospitals contact these agencies with their particular need of nursing specialization. Nurses who have completed a traditional nursing program or one of several online LPN programs or online RN programs and have joined a travel nurse agency are forwarded job requests and positions that need to be filled. Contact between the nurse, the agency, and the requesting clinic or hospital leads to negotiation and, eventually, a temporary position. Many hospitals and clinics that are in desperate need of those who have been qualified by an accredited nursing education program will offer generous pay, furnished apartments, and other perks to attract individuals to fill their nurse jobs.
Travel Nursing Education Requirements
As hinted above, becoming a travel nurse requires a degree in nursing. Fortunately, attaining this degree today is easier than ever because there are many convenient and relatively inexpensive online LPN programs and online RN programs available to students. Of course, traditional nursing programs also remain an excellent way to get the education needed for a career in nursing.
Like other nursing positions, those who want to work in travel nursing need more than just a higher education degree or certification in order to attain a travel nurse job. Travel nurses in the United States must also attain licensure as a nurse in their home state, which occurs when a sufficient number of clinic hours are completed and the individual has passed either the NCLEX-PN exam or the NCLEX-RN exam. Reciprocal license agreements between different states mean that those who are licensed in one state can easily attain a license and work in another state if they have the necessary educational background from an LPN program or RN program. The hospital in the state where the travel nurse is not currently licensed and the travel nursing agency will then work with the travel nurse to attain the licensure needed for the receiving hospital to put the travel nurse in one of their nurse jobs.
Travel Nursing Job Prospects
Due to the shortage of nurses in the United States, the nursing career prospects for travel nurses should be excellent for many years to come. In fact, the lack of nurses in many parts of the country mean that those who have completed a nursing education through one of the many online nursing programs or traditional nursing schools are in an excellent position to command the salary and benefits package of their choice.
Investing in nursing programs, especially those that lead to a master’s degree can be a significant expense for those who are interested in a nursing career. Given the potential salary that graduates from nursing schools can earn, however, this investment is a wise choice for long-term financial gain. The amount of money that one needs to invest in a nursing education is typically less for those who enroll in one of the many online LPN programs or online RN programs, so the ultimate payback for those who pursue a career in travel nursing with this kind of background is even better.
The median annual income for registered nurses in the United States in 2010 was approximately $64,000 for registered nurses working in the traditional hospital setting. Those who sign with employment services such as a travel nurse agency earn even more. In fact, once retirement benefits, signing bonuses, and living arrangements are taken into account, travel nurses have the potential to earn in the range of six figures. Thus, of all the nursing occupations that one may pursue after graduation from an LPN program or RN program, travel nursing is by far one of the most lucrative. There is also a great deal of satisfaction emotionally that comes from fulfilling a critical need for nurses elsewhere in the country.
As this article has plainly revealed, there are many benefits for those who graduate from online nursing programs or traditional nursing schools and then sign with a travel nursing agency. Travel nursing should therefore be a serious consideration for students at all the nursing schools across the country as individuals seek to take part in the many different nursing occupations available to today’s nurses.
For more information on travel nursing, travel nursing employment, and travel nursing job agencies, please consult the following resources:
- Department of Veteran Affairs Travel Nurse Corps
- Through the Eyes of a Travel Nurse
- Healthcare Travelers
- Working As A Travel Nurse
- Traveling Nurse Career
- World Traveling Nurses
- Nurses Without Borders
- Traveling Nurse Orientation Checklist