One of the first questions I am asked by non-healthcare professionals is “What is a travel nurse? I never knew there was such a thing!”
A travel nurse is organized, dependable, flexible, friendly, and professional. He or she fills in, usually on a short term basis when there is a staffing hole. Like replaces like, so your experience as a staff nurse will dictate what type of unit/position you are able to apply for. If you are a med-surg nurse and would like to work ICU, look into getting that experience BEFORE you travel. It is not customary to train a travel nurse in a new area, especially one so vastly different. As a travel nurse, you are expected to “hit the ground running” after hospital orientation and a very brief unit orientation. You are there for staff support, not to take someone’s job, but you may be treated unfairly because you are new, and will have to prove yourself each and every assignment.
The reasons for needing a travel nurse can vary, but here are some of the main reasons:
Staff on Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), maternity leave
High staff turnover (for those going back to school for NP, CRNA, etc)
Electronic medical record (EMR) conversion
Opening of additional beds in unit
Seasonal staffing (snowbirds in the winter, flu season)
Helping out with a “young” staff
Travel nursing is not for everyone, but if you have any inclination toward it at all, I recommend doing at least one contract to decide.
Next check out The Process