Travel Nurses

Written by Sierra Rein
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The term "travel nurse" is a relatively new one to the world of medical professionals. It arose in the early 1980s after hospitals and other nursing workplaces began recruiting medical staff to make up for shortages during essential winter months. This practice soon caught on as an easy and reliable way to deal with understaffed hospitals and prepare for emergency medical seasons and holidays.

Travel nurses today can work in a variety of different venues. They can be hired to replace sick or injured nurses who may be away from their posts for a few days or weeks. They can also be placed in a temporary medical position at a hospital, nursing home, orphanage, psychiatric facility or research lab for a length of 13 weeks up to a year or more.

Some travel nurses are also hired to accompany individuals while they are en route to a vacation spot, new home, or specialized hospital. They can act as personal assistants while traveling by plane, train, or boat and have the duty to administer medicine or individual comfort during a long trip. Many psychiatric travel nurses are also hired to be on hand if a mentally disabled or troubled individual has the potential to become violent or disruptive on the way.

The Pay, Benefits, and Excitement of Being a Travel Nurse

Compared to other forms of nursing employment, travel nurses are some of the highest paid in the medical field. The high demand today has resulted in higher, competitive wages (often resulting in hourly rates of up to 40 or 50 dollars an hour). If a travel nurse proves him or herself to be reliable, travel-worthy, skilled, personable, and flexible in her schedule, she can usually fill her entire year with work and still take time off for holidays and vacations if she so wishes.

Of course, being a travel nurse means the opportunity to visit different places and meeting hundreds of new people. Most nursing companies provide full rent housing with utilities paid or, if a relative or friend agrees to take the nurse in, a housing subsidy is added to the monthly paycheck as well. A nurse can then go from job to job and visit as many places and medical facilities as she wishes. If the nurse wishes to settle down in one location rather than the other, she can contact her recruitment office and ask if the position can become permanent or not.

Requirements to Being Hired as a Travel Nurse

The first skill to becoming a travel nurse is to have at least one year's experience as a nurse in the desired specialty. Hospitals and medical facilities prefer this minimum, especially if it has occurred in the last 12 months to two years. In order to meet demands and keep up with current medical practices, those who have previous nursing experience but who have not practiced in many years will be more likely to be hired if they put themselves through further education.

An individual's personality also counts when it comes to being a travel nurse. Temporary assignments always require people skills, the ability to follow new instructions, great communication skills, and an eagerness to work as a team player in any situation. It is likely that those travel nurses who have been terminated in the past were given the boot based on the inability to fit in with the existing staff rather than a lack of medical knowledge or skill.

Unique Skills Mean More Specialized Work

During the application process to become a travel nurse, it is important for a nurse to list any extra linguistic skills or past experience that may push her into a more specialized category. These skills may include experience with children or mental patients, linguistic strengths in a foreign language, or certification in a number of different specialty areas. A recruitment office is more likely to put individuals with these skills at the tops of their lists, especially when unique job descriptions suddenly need to be filled.

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