What is a travel nurse?

A travel nurse works on contract. The length of the contract can be anywhere from 4 to 26 weeks, depending on the hospital’s needs.

How does it work?

  1. The basic idea is that a hospital needs a nurse to temporarily fill a position.
  2. A recruiter working through a healthcare staffing agency finds nurses like you to fill the position.
  3. If you and the hospital feel it is a good fit, usually after a phone interview, a start date is agreed on.
  4. Your journey begins as you drive or fly to your assignment and apartment the agency has found for you.
  5. Upon arrival you will be welcomed to a fully furnished apartment unless you have agreed to find your own housing.
  6. Within a few days you will likely start orientation, which can last anywhere from one day to one week.
  7. After orientation, you will typically work three 12-hour shifts and usually for 13 weeks.
  8. Within a month of your contract end date, you’ll begin working with your recruiter to find your next assignment.
  9. Your recruiter will submit you for jobs based on your preferences, experience, licenses, etc.
  10. Once your next assignment is found, pack up and begin your next journey!

Why would a hospital hire a travel nurse?

Hospitals hire travel nurses for lots of reasons: including coverage for maternity leave, medical leave, during busy seasons, additional help when the hospital is transferring to electronic medical records, during hospital expansions or when a position is difficult to fill.

How much does a travel nurse make?

The general rule of thumb is that a travel nurse will make about 15% more than a nurse in a permanent position. There are many variables that will affect your income such as the state you are traveling to, the popularity of the location, whether you can claim a tax home, etc. For example, most hospitals in Hawaii will not pay very much because they have no problems finding nurses to travel there. A hospital in the middle of a high-crime neighborhood would probably pay more because they would have a hard time finding nurses. Our experience has been right at the 15% rule. We have learned that you could probably push that to 25% if you were willing to make sacrifices.

Do companies really offer FREE housing?

If you choose to take the company provided housing then your housing is free.  You also have the option to take a housing stipend and find your own apartment. The housing stipend can range from $1,000 – $2,200, depending on the cost of living in that area. If you choose to take the housing stipend you are responsible for everything. If you let the company choose it for you, they will set everything up and have a furnished apartment ready when you arrive, sometimes even including housewares. For short-term assignments 8 weeks or less, there is a risk you could be placed in an extended stay hotel. To date we have not had a bad housing experience. To view pictures of our apartments check out our travel nursing story.

Can I travel with my spouse? relative? friend?

Yes, you can definitely travel with anyone you want to bring along. Normally the travel agency will only pay for a one bedroom apartment, so if you would need more space than that, you would be required to pay for the additional cost.

Can I travel with my pets?

Most agencies are pet friendly. You may have to pay pet fees or deposits. Some apartment complexes require proof that your animals vaccinations are up to date. Some apartments have breed and size restrictions.

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