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Looking for Adventure? Try Travel Nursing

The growth rate of the nursing profession is much higher than the average of all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growing shortage of nurses nationwide makes properly educated and qualified nurses a sought-after commodity in modern healthcare.

Although nursing is a high-need occupation, distinctions in nursing education and credentials can still give graduates a competitive edge in landing the job they want. For instance, earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through the Northern Kentucky University online RN to BSN program could help you pursue travel nursing jobs at top ranked hospitals. Travel nursing allows you to explore your passion for adventure while you develop and build upon your career in nursing.

What Is Travel Nursing?

In this occupation, nurses work short-term contracts at different hospitals and healthcare facilities. In the U.S., the average travel nursing contract period is around 13 weeks, although contract periods do vary greatly and can be extended. Travel nurses generally work in their area of specialty. They get placed through travel nurse staffing agencies, and these agencies negotiate pay, benefits, housing and more.

The widespread shortage of nurses is a major reason for the popularity of travel nursing, with hospitals scrambling to fill needed positions or meet staff-to-patient ratio requirements. Travel nurses often also staff temporary positions in areas with high seasonal populations, such as tourist destinations.

What Are the Benefits of Travel Nursing?

For adventure lovers, the clearest benefit of travel nursing may simply be the opportunity to travel and experience new things. Compensation is also an incentive. Some hospitals offer higher-than-average pay for travel nurses because of the high demand and immediate need to fill positions. Travel nurses can make upwards of $2,000 per week in addition to solid benefit packages.

Travel costs, housing and other living expenses are generally covered, making travel nursing a good opportunity to save money and pay off student loan debt. Some staffing agencies even offer tuition assistance to get nurses the education and qualifications needed to fill higher level positions.

Travel nurses also get to diversify their skill sets by working at different facilities with differing technology and systems. Placements at highly respected hospitals around the country can go a long way toward building a resume and improving one's future job prospects.

Another unique benefit of travel nursing is the flexibility it affords. Travel nurses get to select their placements, schedule time off between placements and, in some incentivized situations, even choose their shift schedule.

What Education, Experience, Licenses or Certifications Do I Need to Be a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses are required to be registered and licensed as mandated nationally and state by state, just like any other registered nurse. One or two years of experience in one's area of specialty is generally required. Specialty certifications may also be required or preferred.

Although being an RN will suffice for plenty of travel nurse placements, many of the top hospitals require or prefer that travel nurses have their BSN. A BSN is also required for some higher-level placements. The travel nurse staffing agency will determine placement according to each travel nurse's credentials and ongoing professional development.

What About International Travel Nursing?

For those interested in international experience, travel nursing abroad is an enticing prospect. The overall process is similar, as many countries have analogous licensing/certification requirements for nurses. But the initial process can be lengthy due to factors such as applying for work visas, securing hospital sponsorship, and getting required credentials approved and verified. Many countries also require nurses to have completed a comprehensive degree program such as a BSN. Language fluency is important in non-English speaking areas, as communication is essential to nursing.

International placements are usually longer than domestic contracts, often ranging from six months to a number of years. Pay varies by country, though, and is often less than travel nurse pay in the U.S. However, travel nurses can make substantially more in certain parts of the world such as the Middle East.

Imagine working for a couple months in a rural hospital, making good pay while enjoying the natural beauty surrounding a small town. Flash forward to the next season, and you are spending your days off exploring the cultural offerings of a fascinating new city or country. If you love adventure, seeing new places and meeting new people, travel nursing could certainly be an exciting and rewarding career path to follow.

Learn more about NKU's online RN to BSN program.

Sources: What Is a Travel Nurse? What Is a Travel Nurse?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Registered Nurse

Women on the Road: International Travel Nursing

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