The 4 main requirements you need to be aware of

Many individuals in the healthcare industry are attracted to travel nursing since it provides advantages such as the opportunity to explore new places, competitive compensation, and job mobility.

It’s also an excellent chance to acquire vital skills, get out of your comfort zone, and, of course, make a difference in the health of the folks you’ll be taking care of.

So let’s chat about what it takes to start traveling. 

So what exactly is a travel nurse?

Although you may believe that being a travel nurse entails traveling far-flung and exotic locations, this isn’t always the case.

Being a travel nurse means being employed by an independent nursing staffing agency instead of by a hospital or facility directly. This means you could travel as far away as a different state or work at a nearby facility as a “local traveler.” One that requires temporary nurses. 

It is entirely up to you when and where you work as a travel nurse, but it does not always imply long-distance moving, packing bags, and heading to distant cities.

What licenses are needed to become a traveler

You must have an active RN license to work as a travel nurse.

To be honest, nurses who have earned a diploma, are Licensed Practical Nurses with a valid license, and hold an Associates or Bachelor’s degree in nursing are all qualified to work as travel nurses. It’s kind of a broader playing field than most folks think. 

But generally speaking, travelers are usually RNs. Not so much LPNs. But depending on the needs and locations, LPNs are finding assignments almost as much as RNs are.

Something to keep in mind is that as an RN, a bachelor’s degree (BSN) isn’t required. Not does it mean additional pay either. Take it from me, a BSN-prepared RN. My pay is the same as my Associate prepared travel nurses.

Suppose you obtained your original nursing license in a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, such as Florida, Texas, or Arizona. You will be working in a fellow NLC state. In that case, you have what’s called a compact license. 

Because your current license is valid in all NLC states, you won’t have to get additional certification. If the state where you received your original nursing license isn’t a compact licensing state or the state you’ll be working in isn’t, you’ll need to get an extra-state license.

The travel company you are working with should be able to help you obtain the proper license.

Do I need any special credentials to start travel nursing? 

The short answer is: it depends.

On its basis, you’ll need a valid and active BCLS card. This is standard for any nursing job, though, travel or staff. If you’re an ER nurse, you’ll need additional certifications like ACLS and PALS. Some gigs may require TNCC.

For ICU, you’ll need ACLS as well.

If you know you plan on seeking a contract in a specific unit, you may also want to be sure that you have credentials in that specialty; for instance, a CCRN certification for critical care or NRP for labor and delivery and postpartum nursing.

Because most travel nursing companies demand that nurses obtain and maintain all of their qualifications on their own dime, it’s in your best interests to do some planning ahead of time.

What about years of experience?

Most nursing staffing firms generally want nurses to have at least one year of bedside experience before hiring and placing them.

If you are working in a specialized unit, such as labor and delivery or the ICU, the agency may need more time to evaluate your experience. Ultimately, the hospital or facility may dictate specific experience requirements, though.

Maintaining your license as a travel RN

Regardless of where you obtained your original license, maintaining it as a travel nurse is no different than if you were a staff RN who never left home.

In short, it’s up to you to stay on top of it.

If you had to get a license specifically for a gig, for a specific contract, you would have to renew your home state license (if you want to keep it, that is) and meet the requirements for license renewal in the state you are working in. Sure, it may be double work, but it keeps your options much broader.

As far as CEUs, this is also up to you as a professional to ensure you’re keeping this up to date.

The final word

So, if you’re an RN with your BCLS certification and meet the experience requirements of the travel nursing company you work with, you’re good to go! Just be sure that you keep your license active and up-to-date by completing continuing education units (CEUs) as required. And don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure!

To learn more about the travel nursing opportunity and cities across the country, visit Bestica Healthcare and start planning your next assignment today.


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