A travel nurse is a licensed health care professional who works in numerous short term assignments that require travel. Usually coordinated by a traveling nurse agency, registered nurses (RN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) are matched with the staffing needs of various hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics or practically any facility that has a need for nursing services. Individual assignments usually last between eight and 12 weeks, but vary depending on the facility's needs.
Any RN or LPN can work as a travel nurse, although nurses who specialize in a particular area, such as an ER or surgical nurse, are particularly desirable. Whatever his or her specialty, the nurse receives the same education and training as one who works as a permanent employee at a health care facility. Some traveling nurse agencies require that a person interested in becoming a travel nurse have at least one year of clinical nursing experience, however. The use of traveling nurses began in the United States in the 1980s, due to a shortage of qualified nurses that continues to this day. Hiring this type of nurse is ideal for many health care facilities, because he or she can fill seasonal demands for extra staff or the temporary need for nurses until a permanent position can be filled.
Many people find that working as a travel nurse has invaluable benefits. They get to see many different places around the world while earning a very decent income. The nurse can decide the travel distance and time frame of each assignment. He or she is also reimbursed for travel expenses and supplied with decent housing for the duration of the assignment. Family and pets are also often accommodated, and many nurses are allowed to travel with friends in nursing pairs.
A travel nurse also benefits from not having to sign a contract with any particular health care facility, while still receiving benefits such as retirement, health insurance and monetary bonuses. This job also looks great on a resume, because it shows that a person is enthusiastic about his or her career, efficient and adaptable.