Traveler stories

How Travel Nursing Works

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By Claire Brocato, Feature Writer

If you are a registered nurse with at least 12 months of clinical experience in one specialty, travel nursing is a career option. As a traveler, you will be able to experience the excitement of living in and exploring new regions of the United States; meet new people and make new friends; expand your professional knowledge, skills and competencies; and build your résumé.

What exactly is travel nursing? It's an opportunity to travel throughout the country working 13-week assignments (or longer). Most nursing travel agencies offer excellent pay, full benefits, cash bonuses and free housing.

The travel nursing industry began when a few agencies began to offer hospitals a short-term solution to perpetual staffing problems in the 1980s. The demand was especially high in places like California, Texas, Arizona and Florida where population fluctuates with the seasons. Over the years, though, facility managers recognized that traveling nurses could be the solution to many of their staffing problems. Today, a well-qualified nurse with experience in a high-demand specialty can find an assignment across the United States throughout the year.

Becoming a travel nurse is a straight-forward process. Here are the steps:

  • Apply on the Internet or mail in an application
  • Telephone interview with the facility
  • Choose a travel company
  • Apply on the Internet or mail in an application
  • Talk to a recruiter
  • Choose a destination
  • Telephone interview with the facility
  • Get ready
  • Go!

    Choosing a Travel Company

    Most travel nursing companies advertise in nursing journals and have Web sites. Do a little research. Decide what you want and then see which companies offer those services. The best advice to find the company for you is to compare what each offers in terms of variety of assignments, pay rates, benefits, and friendliness and competence of their recruiters. Then make the phone call or jump on the Internet.


    Today you can submit an application via the Internet or fill one out by hand and mail in. The advantage to completing the application online is that it gets into the hands of a recruiter quicker and puts you closer to starting your new career.

    Whichever way you choose, make sure that all the information on the applciation is correct. It can mean the difference between receiving a job offer and not receiving one.

    Talk to a Recruiter

    Once your application is accepted, you will be assigned a personal recruiter. To get the most out of travel nursing, it is very important for you to tell the recruiter what you want to get out of travel nursing: is it to see a specific area of the country or to work in a prestigious facility? The recruiter's job is to make you happy. So tell her what you want. From that information and from your applications, your recruiter will explore assignments that best match your skills and preferences.

    Choose a Destination

    A big city or a small city? The East Coast or the West? Mountains and snow, or beaches and sun? Stay close to home or travel across the country?

    With so many choices, deciding on your assignment may be the hardest part of the experience. You and your recruiter will discuss all the opportunities available to you as a traveler.

    Your recruiter will discuss the advantages and cities, compare what each has to offer, evaluate pay, review hospital requirements and determine which suits your needs.

    Telephone Interview with the Facility

    The next step is the telephone interview with a hospital, usually with a nurse manager. Your recruiter will help you prepare for the interview, giving you the best opportunity to be offered the job.

    Get Ready

    You've accepted your assignment and now are ready to go. Your travel nursing company will help with any credentialing requirements and help you start the licensure process in your assignment state.

    Housing managers will find an apartment and arrange for utilities and furniture delivery.

    For more information on travel nursing, click here.

    © 2007. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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