Travel Nurse Beginning Guide
What You Need to Know
If you’re exploring the possibility of becoming a traveling healthcare worker, you could be on your way to a fun and rewarding new lifestyle. Travel. Work. Get Paid more. What’s not to love?
Being a traveling healthcare professional can be an excellent way to make great money while exploring different locales, meeting new people, enjoying new experiences, and gaining new skills. You may be a good fit for the profession if you are outgoing, adventurous, adapt quickly to new environments and are organized enough to move to different parts of the country every 13 weeks.
How much could you make?
Travelers often earn higher salaries than perm. staff due to their willingness to travel to meet demand. That said, your income will depend on the length of your breaks between assignments and whether you work in specialty areas. In most cases, your compensation will be composed of base pay plus a largely untaxed stipend for expenses such as meals, travel and housing. We offer our travel nurses all the traditional benefits, of a perm position, such as health and life insurance, 401K, plus other travel-relevant perks.
Step by Step
Here at OneStaff Medical, we never want to assume that being a traveling healthcare professional is an easily understandable business that anyone can casually walk into. There are a lot of complicated and overlapping factors that play into starting this journey. Of course, that’s why we’re here to help! Below is a road map to help give the most basic beginner steps on how to become a traveler and we hope it helps determine if this seems like the right decision for you.
Get the Required Degree/Certifications
Depending on the area of medicine you want to study it could require an undergraduate degree or even a graduate degree. Many travelers are RNs, which requires them to hold an Associate’s degree (ADN) or Bachelor’s degree (BSN) in nursing. There are some Allied professions that require a medical certificate, associates or undergraduate degree. LPNs and CNAs who have completed state-approved programs may also work as travelers.Get that paper!
Gain Real World Experiance
Most agencies require a full year of nursing experience before accepting you as a client. You may need more if you wish to work in a specialty area. Another way to ensure that you acquire the experience you need for most hiring positions is to enroll for an accredited program in your area of interest. These programs will guarantee a specific standard of education so that when employers hire you, they have no doubt they are hiring a highly skilled and educated healthcare professional.Gotta put in the time!
Check Your Licensing
For RNs, they must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). If you are a nurse and wish to work out of state, check with your home state to determine whether it offers the Nurse Licensure Company (NLC) allowing you to work across at least 30+ states without needing to secure a state-by-state license. Otherwise, you’ll need individual licenses for each state in which you practice; we recommend you apply early since the process can take anywhere from two weeks to six months. Double check to see if your license allows you to work in other states.Check it once, then check it twice!
Register with OneStaff Medical
Finding an agency you feel comfortable with is important, since it will serve as your legal employer and will act as a liaison between you and the hiring medical facilities. You can expect your agency to handle the following on your behalf, in addition to other important functions:
- Help with your licensing and qualifications
- Up-to-date information on and clear communications about the hiring facilities
- Facilitation of job interviews between you and the hiring facilities
- Negotiation and finalization of your employment contracts
- Help with your housing arrangements
- Administration of your paychecks and tax records
- Mitigation of conflicts between you and the hiring facilities
Practice your interview skills
Make sure all your relevant paperwork is in order and easily accessible. Be clear on your assignment preferences in terms of setting, location, and time interval. Create a resume that showcases all of your certifications, work experience (including peds per facility), computer skills, etc. You’ll also need to establish a “tax home” to ensure you can take advantage of the tax-free compensation you’ll receive. In short, that means proving to the IRS you have a full-time residence when not traveling for your job; if that doesn’t exist, you’ll need to pay taxes on all income including stipends. Then OneStaff will set up interviews with the hospital administration for you. From there it’s up to you to let your talents shine and wow the interviewer.Practice, practice, practice!
Hit the road!
Now you’re off! From here we would say congratulations on landing your first travel job and for forging your own path towards adventure and career advancement! Of course, Onestaff Medical is still here with you EVERY step of the way, even when you are settled in your dream destination. When you set out on this journey, you have the full support and admiration from this company to help propel you forward to your goals.Hit the road!
Where will you live?
One of the many decisions you’ll have to make as a traveler is where to live on your assignments. Our goal at OneStaff Medical is to do everything in our power, to allow you to go on assignments…”your own way” (which includes choosing housing in any way you prefer, and simply being here to offer our insights if that’s all you need and want). The housing option that is right for you can depend on many factors, including where in town you want to live and what type of housing you prefer.
This can be a great option for the traveler who wants to avoid the hassle of digging through the options that come with finding their own housing. Our housing department has already done all the leg work, and often, we have ongoing partnerships (AKA discounts) with those places! Extended stay hotels are the most common arrangements provided by OneStaff. Agency-provided lodging is the first option that travel nurses can consider when finding housing for their next assignment. In this scenario, your travel nursing agency will provide housing for you.
If your chosen agency does not provide lodging, they usually offer a few different options. Extended stay hotels are the most common arrangements provided by an agency, while others may use traditional motels or hotels. Some agencies may be flexible in letting you choose what you prefer, while others may only offer one or two options. Keep in mind, your housing options will also be subject to the current availability of the accommodations the agency provides.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have a comfortable place to stay and that you are satisfied with the housing arrangement that’s provided to you. Agency-provided lodging is not for everyone, so its important to make sure its a good fit for you before committing to what they offer. Most agencies have vetted out locations and will try to place you in a safe neighborhood close to your work facility. Again, the theme there is those Housing gurus doing their leg work to help streamline this process for you. Other options are always the well-known, and industry-respected, Furnished Finder. Or perhaps other longer-term rental options you’d need to vet out on your own.
Keep in mind, too, that some agencies will adjust your pay based on housing prices. If the cost of your living arrangement exceeds the company’s budget, they may reduce your pay to cover any additional costs.
Either way, agency-placed lodging can be both an affordable and hassle-free housing option for your next travel nursing assignment. You’ll want to evaluate all housing options provided by your agency on a case-by-case basis before committing to anything. It’s also wise to do your research and ask your agency plenty of questions to ensure your living arrangements will be up to par.
One of the greatest advantages of using a housing stipend is having the flexibility to pick where you want to live, since your agency will give you a weekly stipend to use towards housing rather than assigning living arrangements to you. If you are looking at hotels on your own, we’d suggest having your recruiter reach out to our Housing Department to secure the rate codes for the chains we partner with. Get that discount!
Nurses new to traveling may be wondering how a housing stipend works and the advantages of choosing your own living arrangements over ones that are agency-provided. One of the greatest advantages of using a housing stipend is having the flexibility to pick where you want to live, since your agency will give you a weekly stipend to use towards housing rather than assigning living arrangements to you.
If you prefer a more traditional living arrangement, there are plenty of furnished apartments and homes available for rent. These rentals typically come with all the furniture and appliances you need, so you don’t have to worry about furnishing the place yourself. Renting an apartment or home can be a bit more expensive than other living options, but it can be worth it if you want a more permanent place to call home.
There are also several extended-stay hotels and motels that offer discounts to travel nurses (we’d suggest having your recruiter reach out to our Housing Department to secure the rate codes for the chains we partner with! They may have negotiated rate for hotels in the area). These accommodations can be a great option if you need a place to stay for a short period of time. However, they may not have all the amenities that you need, so be sure to check before you book your stay.
Finally, RV living is a popular option for many travel nurses. It allows you the freedom to move around as you please, and most RVs come equipped with all the amenities you need, including kitchens and bathrooms. RV living can feel a little different than other housing options, and you’ll have to find a place to park it during your assignment. Still, it can be well worth it if you enjoy the outdoors and the flexibility it provides.
Many travel nursing agencies will offer housing stipends to help offset the cost of finding housing. However, it can still be difficult to find affordable and convenient housing, especially if it’s in a location you’ve never been to before. Additionally, if you fail to secure housing before your travel nursing assignment begins, it can be incredibly stressful.
How do you know which option is right for you?
There are many considerations to make when deciding which housing option is right for you as a travel nurse. It can be a tough decision, but ultimately, it boils down to what will make you the most comfortable and allow you to do your job to the best of your abilities. Some factors to keep in mind that will help you choose the best housing option for your needs is cost, location furnished or unfurnished, family and pets, lease terms, and amenities.
Making the decision about which housing option is right for you as a travel nurse can be tough. However, if you keep the above factors in mind and do a little planning, you can find the perfect place to call home while you are on the road. If you need additional information about housing options, or you’re looking to become a travel nurse for the first time, contact OneStaff Medical at (877) 783-1483 or browse our current job openings or check out our Housing blog with even more information here.
Among some of the top advantages cited by those in the field:
Flexibility. Unlike most professionals, being a traveling healthcare professional allows you to be very choosy about when and where you wish to work. You could seek only night shifts, limit your work to local facilities or work only during certain months of the year!
Job security. This industry exists, because there is so much demand. Thanks to changing demographics among other factors, demand for healthcare professionals is expected to grow by 15% by 2026, meaning you should have an even greater choice of assignments.
Diversity of work. Healthcare has enough facets to allow you to focus on the element(s) that interest you the most.
Trust and respect. For the 17th consecutive year, a Gallup survey recently identified nursing as the most honest and ethical profession in the U.S.
Being a traveling healthcare worker can be a great way to explore the nation while gathering new skills and experiences.
If you are wondering whether a career as a traveling healthcare professional is right for you - or you’re ready to start the process - hit us up here. We know the ins and outs of the industry and would love to help you!
Most Sought-After Specialties
Nursing specialties allow individuals to pursue areas of the medical field that interest them. Each specialty requires different skills, and the day-to-day duties can vary significantly between fields. In addition, each specialty has a different level of desirability for potential employers.
Every facility has distinct needs, and each hospital will hire nurses in certain disciplines based on these needs. Some specialties are more desirable than others.
The top 10 most sought-after nursing specialties of 2022 are as listed below.
Medical-Surgical nurses provide care to patients who are preparing for or recovering from surgery. They may be found in hospitals, outpatient settings homes and other places for pre and post-op care. They have a broad knowledge base and are experts in their practice. The median annual salary for Med-Surg nurses is around $102,881 per year. (salary.com) View our available Medical-Surgical Jobs.
A Telemetry nurse monitors patients with heart disease and other serious medical conditions using an electrocardiogram or other vital sign measuring devices. The median salary for Telemetry nurses is around $120,512 per year. (ziprecruiter.com) View our available Telemetry Jobs.
Intensive Care Unit
Intensive care nurses monitor patients when they are admitted to the hospital after a serious accident, trauma, organ failure, extensive surgery, acute illness, or other serious incidents. The median annual salary for ICU nurses is over $72,500 per year. View our available ICU Jobs.
LPN/CNA specialties | Allied Specialties
Skilled Nursing care is provided in a medical setting under a doctor’s supervision. The median salary for an LPN in skilled nursing is $48,843 per year. The median salary for CNA in skilled nursing is $32,724 per year. View our available Skilled Nurses Jobs.
The primary responsibility of a CT Technologist is to ensure physicians and other members of a patient’s care team receive high-quality images they can use to make diagnoses or assess the success of treatments. The median salary for a CT Technologist is $92,877 per year. (ziprecruiter.com) View our available CT Jobs.
Radiologic Technologist or Radiographers perform medical exams using X-rays on patients to create images of specific parts of the body. The images are then interpreted by a doctor for diagnosis and monitoring of disease. The median salary for x-ray technologists is $103,749 per year. (indeed.com) View our available X-Ray Jobs.
Physical Therapists help patients with injuries and chronic health conditions regain their range of motion, manage their pain and improve their quality of life. The median salary for a physical therapist is $95,620 per year. (bls.gov) View our available Physical Therapy Jobs.
Pursuing a job in any of these fields is promising. OneStaff Medical has open positions in a variety of healthcare specialties. If you are looking for your next travel assignment, reach out to one of our recruiters today!