If helping patients directly appeals to you, then you might have already answered the call to be a nurse. To take your passion to a new level, you might even consider becoming a traveling nurse. Fortunately, there are specific signs that doing so is the right move for you.
7 Signs You Should Be a Traveling Nurse
Many professionals who decide to become traveling nurses or at least think about it do so based on their conversations with current or former travel nurses. They shared their stories of making friends, experiencing new locations, and doing everything from climbing the Rockies to surfing in the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re not sure yet whether it would suit you, consider these signs:
- You Enjoy Meeting New Folks: Helping people is the biggest reward in nursing, but in many places, the only fresh faces are new patients. Sometimes, even those faces don’t change all that often. When you’re a travel nurse, you’ll be constantly meeting new professionals everywhere. These can turn into a bounty of professional contacts to network with, but the best part is the lifelong friends that you’ll make along the way.
- You Work as Hard as You Play: Nurses understand hard work better than anyone. However, what is your life like outside of work? When you’re a travel nurse, you’ll have plenty of new things to discover anytime you work somewhere you haven’t before. Being a nurse means needing to unwind and enjoy life to the fullest when not at work, and you can do that better than anyone when you have the chance to constantly explore the country and all its many corners.
- Minimalism Appeals to You: If you don’t have a lot of personal possessions by choice, then travel nursing might be right up your alley. Many travel nurse positions last 13 weeks, which means you’d be on the move three or four times a year. Packing light makes this lifestyle a lot easier. If you can turn a short-term residence into a comfortable home for a few months, then being a travel nurse might be right for you.
- You’re Adaptable: Many turn to travel nursing just to break up the routine they are in because this is far from monotonous. Every few months, you’ll move to a new location and learn new facility layouts, co-workers, procedures, and policies. Each occasion will offer new perspectives on how to practice medicine. Your flexibility can turn into a serious career strength that makes you highly desirable as a professional.
- You Enjoy Travel: Sometimes, switching travel nurse positions will keep you in the same state, but other times you might move from New Mexico to Maine. If being cooped up in one place too long starts to dull you, then being a travel nurse is a great way to log miles and see as many places as you can.
- You’re Unsure What Your Dream Job Is: The call to become a nurse might have been the most powerful calling of your life, but knowing where to land in this diverse profession can take a bit more work. Do you want to be an ER nurse helping people with urgent needs in a fast-paced environment? Or would you rather be a part of more casual family practice in a rural town? Travel nursing lets you spend time in many different settings and scenarios so you can eventually figure out where you want to be in the end.
- You’d Like to Market Yourself Better: If you’re thinking long-term about your career, then you know you need your resume to be both broad and deep. Travel nursing means you can learn lots of new things but also practice your skills. You’ll get experience in many levels of various patient care in a variety of different facilities. This all adds up to making you very marketable as a nurse in the future if you find somewhere that you’d like to land permanently.
Being a Nurse Practitioner Opens Up Options
Many states license nurse practitioners to help fill positions where there aren’t enough primary care physicians or family doctors available. This is happening a lot in rural areas, where nurse practitioners might fill in until a doctor is found or just in lieu of one.
What is a nurse practitioner? They are an APRN, or advanced practice registered nurse, who can offer comprehensive medical care for certain areas of practice or to specific patient populations. They often have nursing degrees at the master’s or doctoral level and operate with a lot of autonomy. NP professionals handle most of the same cases that doctors do, but they don’t have to put as much money and time into their education.
If you decide to go into the NP field, you might wind up doing family medicine, neonatal care, pediatrics, women’s health, psychiatric health, or adult-gerontological care. These tips may be helpful with your chosen course.
Being a travel nurse practitioner means you can move across the country until you find open positions that serve as entry-level positions in a specialty you want to get into. For that matter, you can also try out different specialties to find out which one suits you best.
How Do You Get to Be a Travel Nurse?
Indeed has a good checklist to follow if you want to be a travel nurse. The primary steps include the following:
- Get a Degree: A degree in nursing, likely at the bachelor’s level, is crucial to entering this field.
- Become Licensed: Registered nurses have to pass the NCLE, or the National Council Licensure Examination, in order to practice safely.
- Put a Year In: Most professionals do at least a year as a local RN before becoming a travel nurse.
- Practice Personal Development: Getting as many different kinds of experience as an RN helps you develop the broad skills you’d need in temporary positions.
- Look for Volunteer Opportunities: Whether you do them abroad or locally, you’ll encounter challenges you don’t face daily at work. The skills you develop in such circumstances get you ready for travel nursing.
- Accumulate Certifications: Nationally recognized certifications help you find travel nurse positions in any state and illustrate your skills in particular nursing areas.
Be Ready to Pounce
Many hospitals that hire traveling nurses will want them to start within two weeks to a month of the position becoming open. You should get certified in the states you want to work in far in advance of this, and you should have your employment documents saved as PDF files for easy and quick transfer online.