The concept of travel nursing originated during early 1980s when many US states were passing through nursing shortages and required nurses to ease their temporary staffing shortfalls. Hospitals hired travel nurses to meet their staffing needs because these nurses were willing to travel to new destinations and offer their nursing services. Nurses also enjoyed working in this field because this career offered them a flexible schedule and option to visit new states and cities.
Over the years, this form of nursing became widely popular among nurses because travel nursing career offered higher wages and benefits, job flexibility, free housing and stipend, and exposure to new technologies. In addition, nurses also got the opportunity to visit new destinations and gain extensive clinical work experience. The demand for travel nurses also increased among health care facility owners because these nurses could meet their short-term staffing shortages or help them during local emergencies. They were also able to avoid unnecessary costs that otherwise be spend on permanent nurses for filling the temporary staffing needs.
A travelling nurse must have an RN degree and 1-1.5 years clinical work experience to work as a Travel Nurse. There are typically three paths that can lead to an RN degree. These streams include a) Associate degree in Nursing (ADN), b) Hospital based Diploma Program, and c) Bachelor’s of Science (BSN) degree in Nursing. ADN lasts about two years; Diploma program has duration of three years, and BSN is four-year program. The completion of any of these programs offers eligibility to challenge the NCLEX-RN exam for an RN credential.
However, in the travel nursing industry, RNs with bachelor’s degree are in high demand because they have extensive clinical experiences. However, for the faster career growth, lucrative employments, and earnings, registered nurses must also specialize in specialities because there are greater requirement for advanced practice registered nurses with specialty certification.
There are hundreds of employment agencies throughout the United States that provide temporary staffing and recruitment services. Registered nurses must apply to these agencies for travel nursing jobs because these agencies are also contracted by the facility owners to provide and fill-in their temporary staffing needs. These agencies have few hiring requirements that are to be completed by RNs including submission of the resumes, completed Applications, State-Issued Identifications, and references. Nurses must also be free from criminal background, drug abuse and addiction, and required to complete Checkups, Shots, and Vaccinations. Once these requirements are completed by the applicants, the recruitment agencies schedule their interview with the owners. The selected nurses receive short-term nursing assignments for 4 to 13 weeks or few months.
However, there are few points that must be remembered by nurses before accepting these assignments. The nurses must demand a written and signed contract for the offered job. The agreement must include necessary employment information such as job description, working hours, leaves, wages and benefits, and employment termination clauses. The signed contract is helpful for any job-related disputes in the future.
Travel nursing career has a bright future because health care industry is largest and fastest growing sector in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 526,800 additional RNs will be required to work in different positions from 2012 to 2022 and their demand will increase 19 percent during the same period. The nursing shortages will further boost the demand for Travel nurses in the country.