What Is a Travel Nurse and How Does Someone Become One?
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Travel nurses are registered nurses with a variety of clinical backgrounds who work for temporary staffing firms. They are temporarily assigned to various care sectors in order to fill in job vacancies.
Travel nursing developed as a specialty during a time of nationwide nursing shortages. Hospitals, clinics, and other areas of treatment were understaffed, despite the fact that people were in need of care. Employers offered increased compensation, housing, and relocation assistance in an attempt to entice nurses to open positions.
As a result of these shortfalls, health care facilities are experiencing staffing shortages—and travel nurses are frequently called upon to cover unfilled jobs. Not only do travel nurses work in health care in every state in the country, but they also work as international travel nurses outside of the United States. Many RNs find travel nursing appealing because of the adventure and thrill of new prospects, as well as the higher-than-average income.
Why Is Travel Nursing Necessary?
Travel nurses are an integral element of the health care team since they assist in bridging the supply and demand gap in the nursing industry. Nurse-patient ratios that are required have resulted in an increase in patient safety and a decrease in patient mortality. While this is a positive conclusion, and more states are enacting laws to mandate staffing ratios, there are not enough nurses to fill the available positions. Travel nurses appointed to those available posts contribute to patient safety and result improvement.
Additionally, nurses with a variety of educational backgrounds, clinical specialties, and geographic locations contribute significantly to the practice of nursing. Exchange of ideas and techniques benefits not only patients, but also fellow nurses.
What Does it Take to Become a Travel Nurse?
To perform well in this profession, a travel nurse should possess the following qualities:
- Takes pleasure in discovering new cities, towns, and organizations
- Takes pleasure in his freedom. Travel nurses determine their own schedules and locations, as well as their employment duration.
- Takes pleasure in adaptability. Travel nurses design their own schedules, benefit packages, and compensation packages based on the agency with whom they work.
- Thrives in the face of adversity. Moving to other states or countries and continuously being “the new nurse” is difficult. It’s especially difficult to adapt to new organizational systems and workflows.
- Enjoys acquiring new knowledge. Each assignment places travel nurses in new health care institutions, some of which are more technologically advanced or adhere to higher standards of practice. Each encounter adds to a nurse’s knowledge base.
Additionally, travel nurses should have family and friends who are supportive. It’s challenging to pack up and relocate a complete family or to leave family and friends behind. On the other hand, each new location results in the formation of new relationships.
What Educational Requirements Are There for Travel Nurses?
Individuals interested in the travel nursing specialty should first earn a nursing degree from a two-or four-year university. An associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) is necessary. While a BSN is not essential to work as a travel nurse, certain health care facilities will only hire nurses with a BSN. The nurse’s staffing agency should match the nurse suitably based on educational needs.
After completing an accredited nursing program, certification requires passing the NCLEX-RN.
The majority of travel nurse agencies require at least one year of hands-on experience in the chosen nursing specialty. Additionally, some agencies will hire only RNs with a BSN. International travel nurses should be able to communicate well in the language of the country in which they will practice, as communication is a critical component of good healthcare delivery. When considering travel nursing, nurses are recommended to conduct research on agencies.
Is it necessary to obtain any certifications or credentials?
No further examinations are required to work as a travel nurse. Certification(s) may be necessary depending on the specialty. Several examples include the following:
- Nursing care in the medical/surgical field
- Support for Daily Living (BLS)
- ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) may be necessary.
- Certification in stroke care
- Certification in telemetry
- Nursing in Intensive Care Units (ICUs)
- Basic Life Sustainment (BLS)
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Advanced Life Support for Children (PALS)
- Nursing in critical care (adults, pediatric, neonatal)
- Nursing in Women’s Health/Labor and Delivery
- Support for Daily Living (BLS)
- ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) may be necessary.
- Advanced Life Support (PALS) for children may be required.
- Certification in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
Nursing in an emergency room
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) Basic Life Support (BLS) (ACLS)
- Neonatal Resuscitation Program Using Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) (NRP)
- Certification in the Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC)
International travel nurses may be subject to additional requirements. These include the following:
- Obtaining a passport and obtaining a work visa (usually handled by the agency)
- Supplemental immunizations
- Acquiring a second language
- Acquainting yourself with local ailments
What Does a Travel Nurse Do on a Domestic or International Level?
Travel nurses have a wide variety of obligations and duties, and exact responsibilities vary according to the specialty in which the nurse is trained. Responsibilities and duties of a general nursing assistant include the following:
- Assessing, diagnosing, planning, executing, and evaluating nursing processes in order to provide care for patients in a range of healthcare settings.
- Administering medications and fluids, as well as aiding with daily living activities and patient mobility
- Conducting a review and interpretation of diagnostic tests, such as lab work and imaging
- Ensure that all parts of patient care are monitored and supervised
- Collaborating with physicians to create a care plan
- Assessing patients’ and families’ psychosocial needs
- Recognize clinically unstable patients and intervene
- Providing patients with resources and referring them as necessary
- Patients and family are educated in all aspects of healthcare maintenance and prevention.
- Working assignments ranging from eight to thirteen weeks (on average) in the United States, to one to two years (on average) outside the United States.
- Acquaintance with a variety of patient care systems/documentation
- Provision of emergency medical care and assistance to large populations in times of conflict or disaster
Additionally, domestic and foreign travel nurses have distinct traits that are unique to their roles.
Travel Nurses for Domestic Work
Work in the United States
- Typically, missions last between eight and thirteen weeks.
- Capable of responding to areas of the United States affected by natural disasters or disease outbreaks
Nurses Traveling Internationally
International travel nurses should possess superior communication skills, be receptive to new experiences and challenges, and possess an insatiable desire to learn. These nurses are accountable for a variety of tasks.
As previously said, the tasks assigned to an international nurse are entirely dependent on their medical specialty. International travel nurses will undertake a variety of general or routine responsibilities, including medication administration, wound treatment, and emergency medical services and care. Because many of the locations to which international nurses travel frequently experience nursing shortages, another typical responsibility of these nurses is to teach family members and caregivers about proper patient and medical care. In summary, international travel nurses must adhere to the following:
- Work in a country other than the United States
- Typically, assignments last between one and two years.
- Respond to places affected by natural disasters or disease epidemics, such as the West African Ebola outbreak.
- Assist and care for underserved, rural, and remote populations
- Generally, travelers must wait for paperwork processing before departing.
Working Conditions for Travel Nurses
As with any vocation, working as a travel nurse has a number of positive and negative aspects. Nurses may experience stress as a result of their large patient load and several essential decisions to make. Additionally, travel nurses may have feelings of loneliness as a result of their frequent relocations. Having a strong sense of independence and an available support system, even remotely, can be beneficial.
Additionally, nurses may operate in hazardous environments where they may be exposed to workplace violence, blood-borne diseases, and toxins. Travel nurses must always educate oneself with and adhere to the organization’s safety guidelines.
International travel nurses may encounter a variety of difficulties. Travel nurses must be conversant with local legislation, geographically specific diseases, and must always prioritize their own safety.
Despite these concerns, travel nursing can be a tremendously gratifying experience. Numerous organizations and staff nurses value the assistance provided by travel nurses. Travel nurses assist in relieving staff nurses of burnout, which can occur when working in a short-staffed environment.
Additionally, international travel nurses are greatly valued. They provide medical attention and aid to a large number of individuals in distant areas who would not have access to healthcare otherwise. They contribute to relief activities in war zones or in the aftermath of disasters, which may be both fulfilling and enlightening.
Salary and Employment Opportunities for Travel Nurses
According to the American Nurses Association, fourteen states required nurse-patient ratios as of 2015. Nurses are advocating for federal legislation to encourage safe staffing, and as a result, and if additional states enact safe staffing regulations, nurses will be in even greater demand. Travel nurses will contribute to resolving the current and anticipated nursing shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nurses will expand by 16% overall until2024, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations.