As the name indicates, “Travel nurses” travel a certain distance from their home to take care of patients. They can be certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, or nurse practitioners that take on travel assignments. When I graduated with my RN degree, I thought about becoming a travel nurse.
After gaining experience as a nurse, I landed a good job and decided to settle down. Travel nursing has been around for many years. It emerged from a nursing shortage and a need to fill a void in clinical settings. A Travel Nurse takes on travel assignments that can be for weeks or months. Therefore, a travel nurse travels to a specific area where they are needed and practices there.
Travel nurses merge their love of travel with their profession. They must have experience in their field! I believe 1-2 years of experience is acceptable depending on their specialty, whether the emergency department, medical-surgical, or intensive care. In many clinical settings, travel nurses do not get a complete orientation. The travel nurse is expected to work at their optimal level with the least amount of direction.
Therefore, travel nurses must be problem solvers and able to form relationships quickly. In my opinion, a travel nurse must get to know their colleagues exceptionally well to provide optimal patient care.
Why Do Hospitals Need Travel Nurses?
Travel nurses are not like regular nurses that have to follow a fixed job for the whole of their life. A travel nurse is a free spirit, a maverick that joins the hospital for as long as they want and moves to another facility after completing a contract.
There are many conditions where the hospitals need extra staff:
Rise In Patients
In times of war and/or natural calamities, hospitals experience a manifold increase in patients. There comes a time when the number of patients exceeds the number of attendants. In such times the hospital may take the services of travel nurses.
Epidemics and pandemics were rare and continuously decreasing in frequency until the advent of the novel coronavirus. The aggressively spreading of the lethal virus has devastated healthcare facilities of even the most advanced medical systems.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, travel nurses rescued the overwhelmed healthcare system. Travel nurses took on assignments in hotspots in New York, New Jersey, and California. Travel nurses worked on the frontlines and had some intense experiences. Therefore, many travel nurses have filled in the gaps in healthcare and have imparted medical, emotional, and psychological help to the misery-struck COVID-19 patients.
Many hospitals witness abnormal elevation in patients during the flu season. A facility may call for travel nurses to manage the rapid influx of patients.
Hospitals may take help from additional staff in the form of staff nurses during technological upgrades in the facility. No one likes a technology change. Nonetheless, after being in the field for so long, I have learned to embrace technology upgrades. In the end, it can definitely benefit the patients and improve my job satisfaction.
Services Provided By A Travel Nurse
A travel nurse provides the same services as a regular nurse. They are formally trained and qualified as a nurse. It is essential for the nurse to know her scope of practice and not work outside of that scope. For example, suppose the nurse is a licensed practical nurse. In that case, they may not be able to give IV medications per their scope of practice. A registered nurse cannot provide patients specific treatments without an order from a mid-level practitioner or MD.
Quality Of Services
According to a 2017 study, the services provided by travel nurses are as good as regular nurses. No lacking in treatment quality and patient satisfaction were experienced with travel nurses.
Perks Of Being A Travel Nurse
Being a travel nurse has its perks, some of which are mentioned below:
Choice Of Location
Unlike a regular nurse, a travel nurse is not bound to a single hospital. You can choose to live and provide services in a peaceful and serene rural environment or live a fast, competitive life in an urban hospital.
You can travel to different states within the US or travel abroad to treat patients.
Choice Of Hospital
You can choose to serve in a university teaching hospital or opt for the most prominent hospitals in the nation.
Choice Of Time
The most significant advantage of being a travel nurse is that you have the freedom of time. You can decide what date or time you want to start the job. You can delay contracts in case of family commitments or vacations.
Travel nurses receive good annual pay, and some have medical/dental insurance through their agency. In some cases, the salary of a travel nurse can exceed the yearly median income of a nurse in their field. It is essential to network with other travel nurses to find out which agency has the best packages and which areas in the world have the best rates of pay.