You might have already heard the buzz about the exciting and adventurous job of travel nursing. Some of you may even be considering a career in the field, whereas some might only know a little bit about what a travel nurse is. If you want to find out the duties and responsibilities of a travel nurse, then you’ve come to the right place.
A travel nurse’s job is pretty much the same as that of a regular staff nurse. The most significant difference is that a single hospital employs staff nurses at a single place and travel nursing agencies recruit them. They fill in staff shortages anywhere in the country, sometimes even outside of it.
Another prominent aspect of travel nursing, which makes it lucrative for many, is the higher pay and benefits. Experienced travel nurses can make up to twice the annual salary of regular staff nurses at the same level.
Whether you’re a fresh graduate nurse looking to kick off your career, or a seasoned nurse looking for a change of gear. You first need to understand the requirements, duties, and responsibilities of a travel nurse.
Who Employs Travel Nurses?
Travel nurses are required to work at hospitals, health care facilities, or on individual assignments.
However, they are employed by a Travel Nurse Recruitment Agency. These agencies provide hospitals with a skilled workforce in times of staff shortages.
They also provide qualified help to remote and rural areas where adequate healthcare professionals are scarce or nonexistent.
Travel nurses can also act as independent contractors if they have sufficient marketing skills. This means they can reach out to employers and offer their services on their own, cutting off the agency from the middle.
In many cases, hospitals offer permanent positions to travel nurses at the end of their assignments. You may use this option if the offer is attractive enough, or you want to settle down.
A travel nurse’s educational requirements are the same as that of a regular registered nurse. It means you need to have a nursing diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree.
While most travel nurse agencies hire R.N.s with a diploma or associated degree such as ADN or ASN, some require you to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. After one of these, you need to pass an initial licensure exam called NCLEX-RN and voila! You’re eligible to be a travel nurse.
After completing your education and passing your licensure exams, you need to get a couple of years of experience as a healthcare facility nurse.
However, this requirement is not set in stone.
The recent surge in demand for travel nurses has reduced the experience requirement drastically. It is now at a point where an R.N. with just 4-6 months under their belt has enough experienced required for the job.
How Long Are The Assignments of Travel Nurse?
Travel nursing job assignments usually last 13 weeks. They can be shorter than that in certain circumstances. However, in cases of continued work shortages or emergencies, these assignments may get longer.
By the end of your assignment, you will get the option to either continue working on the same assignment or move to a new location.
If the agency selects you for travel outside the country, then your assignments may be longer. Travel nurse jobs outside of the U.S. may last 1 to 2 years.
Therefore, You do not need to work during your assignment period continuously – time-off and holidays are available.
Make sure to discuss your days-off with your recruiter beforehand so your assignments can be scheduled accordingly without any objection to your allocated health facility.
Who Picks Your Assignments?
One of the perks of being a travel nurse is that you get to pick your assignments. Your recruiter will give you options to choose from, and in many cases, you have adequate freedom to select what you prefer from the choices available.
A good recruiter will never force you on an assignment or go behind your back to put you in an assignment. If your recruiter shows these red flags, it’s high time to look for another agency.
Lucky for you, there are plenty to choose from. Travel nursing jobs are at an all-time high, and there are many recruiting agencies offering good employee benefits.
Traveling and Lodging
While on a travel nurse assignment, the money you spend on tickets, fares, commute, fuel, lodging, and rent are all taken care of by your agency. It means that on top of earning higher than the average nurse, you also get to save a lot on various expenditures.
independently contracted travel nurses don’t afford such luxury. In this case, you might want to settle the matter of your travel and lodging expenses with your employer.
What You’ll Be Doing as a travel nurse
Since travel nurses have the same qualifications as regular staff nurses, their duties and responsibilities are quite similar. Typical responsibilities of a travel nurse include:
Travel Nurse responsibilities: Assisting local staff with workload
This is perhaps one of the most crucial responsibilities of a travel nurse. In fact, it is the most prominent reason for the existence of travel nurse agencies.
When healthcare facilities, clinics, or hospitals face staff shortages during emergencies or staff going on leaves, they call in travel nurses fill those gaps. Travel nurses assist the in-house staff by sharing their workload.
Travel Nurse responsibilities: Working at schools
Schools employ nurses to attend to students’ medical needs. Some schools hire travel nurses for when their regular nurse is unavailable or as a cost-cutting measure.
Your job as a school nurse is to attend to sick or injured students, oversee or conduct vaccinations, identify the extent of illness or injury, decide the next steps, etc.
Travel Nurse responsibilities: Administering medication
Like a regular nurse, one of your duties is to administer and oversee medication and dosage. You may also need to train family members or servants about the patient’s medication and dosage.
As a nurse, you are qualified to carry out medication and infusions in recommended dosages. You are also responsible for making sure that they are administered at correct times. And to observe and report the effect of those dosages on the patient to the supervising doctor.
Travel Nurse responsibilities: Taking samples and readings
You will have to take and report readings and samples from a patient or patients on the assignment. Readings include blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and other perimeter monitoring the patient’s health.
You may also need to take blood, saliva, stool, and urine samples from a patient and dispatch them to relevant laboratories.
Travel Nurse responsibilities: Attending to patients under intensive care
While assigned to a hospital, your duties are similar to that of a staff nurse. It includes monitoring and attending to patients in ICUs.
Vigilance and alertness are the essential qualities of a travel nurse attending to a patient under intensive care. You need to be available at all times during your hours and must have the energy to perform at your best level from the start to the end of your shift.
Travel Nurse responsibilities: Conducting vaccination drives
Conducting vaccination is also one of many responsibilities of a travel nurse. Contagious diseases or viral infections require immunization via vaccination. Some remote parts may require you to carry our vaccination drives.
Vaccination programs may be in the form of camps where people can visit and get vaccinated. However, they may also require you to walk door to door and administer the vaccination to people at home.
Travel Nurse responsibilities: Comforting elderly and terminally ill patients
All kinds of healthcare settings acquire services of travel nurses. These include hospices, rehabilitation centers, and old-homes. Such jobs require you to be tolerant and kind.
Patients who are terminally ill, recovering from addiction, or are just old can often be challenging to deal with. So, Make sure you know the correct way to behave in such an environment.
Am I Fit For this job?
Before venturing out on the road as a travel nurse, you need to be sure you have what it takes to live that life. To be a successful travel nurse, you need to be able to overcome inconveniences, such as:
Leaving your home for your job
As a travel nurse, you must be comfortable leaving your home, loved ones, and friends for long periods.
Life on the road can get lonely, and you must mentally prepare for that before heading out.
Travel nurses do get off days in which they may visit their families. Make sure you plan them right to make the most out of them.
Dealing with occasional cold behavior
A travel nurse is often seen as an outsider when called in to fill staff shortages. It takes some time for locals to warm up to you. Your personality plays a huge part in making your stay pleasant or miserable for yourself and your colleagues.
Getting unwanted duties
Don’t be surprised if they select difficult or unwanted jobs for you during your assignment. You have to realize that you are the outsider and low in the pecking order. You may have to put up with discriminatory behavior to an extent.
Such assignments are a part of the responsibilities of a travel nurse. You should learn to welcome challenges to succeed in this field.
Language and cultural barriers
There may be language barriers, cultural variation, differences in values and norms, etc. for you to deal with. Adaptability is the key ability of a travel nurse. It is much easier to spend your time blended in rather than sticking out.
Switching gears with every job assignment
Health care facilities frequently call upon travel nurses to fill in different positions. As a travel nurse, you should be able to switch gears and match the pace of the assigned duty.
Your job can put you in the fast-paced environment or the slow and morose environment of a hospice or old-home.
A travel nurse should be flexible enough to work in any kind of environment if needed. It is an important skill to pick up to strengthen you in this field of work.
Frequent change of environment
When you work at a singular facility, you eventually learn the ropes and get well set with the work environment. This luxury is not available to a travel nurse. No two places are similar, and you may even face completely different working environments at each assignment.
Learning the layout
Every hospital and health facility has a different construction. Learning the layout of a hospital building can take some time. Make sure your unawareness of the hospital’s layout doesn’t hinder your duties as a nurse.
Try to procure a portable map of the complex. Ask the local staff for assistance if you’re confused or lost. An ability to memorize locations quickly is a bonus for a traveling nurse.
Working long hours
Nurses often work beyond their shift timings. Many hospitals may require a nurse to fill in extra hours in case of a high workload.
Therefore, as a travel nurse, you need to make sure you have the required stamina and energy to perform your duty beyond your regular duty hours.
Travel nursing is an adventurous and exciting job with lots of variation and opportunities to learn. The responsibilities of A travel Nurse are slightly more demanding than that of a travel nurse. But luckily you get compensated for that spectacularly.
The life of a traveling nurse has its challenges. But with patience, flexibility, and adaptability, you can eventually overcome those minor obstacles. And start to enjoy your life as a travel nurse.