Considerations in Preparation for Travel Nursing
The decision to become a travel nurse is typically not one made overnight. It often begins with learning about the benefits of the opportunity, such as adventure, variety, compensation, new experiences, and more control over your time throughout the year. We know that thinking through the logistics and what it entails can be confusing or overwhelming. There are steps you can take now to prepare yourself for more easily making the transition and making the adventure (and more!) a reality.
While you prepare for potentially making a career change and taking your first travel assignment, there are considerations and experiences to take into account that will help set you apart as a candidate when applying for opportunities, be successful while on assignment, and make the most of your time as a travel nurse.
1. Get charge nurse experience
Whether a facility is looking to hire someone specifically with charge experience or not, having charge nurse experience on your resume demonstrates leadership, accountability, decision making, planning, and conflict resolution, among other competencies. Charge nurses are often thought to make great bedside nurses because they understand everything that goes into having to staff and manage a unit.
It’s also fairly uncommon for a facility to offer the opportunity to be trained as a charge nurse while there temporarily as a travel nurse (but it is possible!). Therefore, it’s highly recommended to get trained as a charge nurse and get some experience while you’re established as a staff nurse somewhere prior to traveling if it’s something you’re even a bit interested in.
👉 Read more: What is a Charge Nurse?
2. Float where and when you can
Travel nursing requires quick, confident, and competent adaptation to new environments, policies, technologies, and interdisciplinary teams. Building this muscle while as a staff nurse is quite a bit easier when done with some of the elements of familiarity that come with it. This experience also provides you with a variety of clinical and patient experience you can showcase on your profile. As a travel nurse, you'll always float within the scope of your practice and experience but it can be intimidating when it's happening for the first time in a brand new environment.
3. Ensure you'll have strong references
References are key to a strong profile to optimize for offers for new opportunities and it's often with time and experience that you're able to build a deep rapport with coworkers and managers that result in strong references. They'll also be the people you'll want to reconnect with if you want to come back to your facility in the future - as a staff or traveler!
4. Consider securing a per-diem job
Quitting a full-time, benefited job can be intimidating for many nurses considering travel nursing. The concept of potentially not having any active income source between contracts or if a contract gets canceled can be scary. While it’s advised to build some financial security (see next point) to ensure expenses can be covered in such scenarios, a per-diem job could also be a good solution. Consider securing a per-diem job at your facility or another local one to return to between assignments. Some nurses even return during their assignment, depending on location, to work the required shifts. It’s common for per diem positions to favor internal and more tenured employees, so they may be easier to lock in while you’re established within your health system.
5. Build financial security
Travel opportunities are at-will employment, meaning they can be terminated at any time without notice and without cause. While this is typically unlikely, it's possible and important to ensure you have enough buffer financially in these instances while you secure new employment and manage some of the expenses that may have come with relocating for a travel opportunity.
👉 Read more: How Nurses Can Achieve Financial Freedom
Ready to start exploring what opportunities await you as you prepare to pursue travel nursing? Create your Trusted profile now to view jobs, begin building your profile (including references!), and connect with our community of fellow nurses.