A travel nurse must have an RN degree. There are three pathways to becoming a registered nurse: A hospital-based nursing school, which usually takes four years to complete; an associate’s degree in nursing, which generally takes two years (followed by another 1-2 years of schooling for a bachelor’s degree); or a bachelor’s degree (four years) in nursing (BSN). The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) considers a bachelor’s degree to be the minimum requirement for any career in nursing.
After becoming an RN (and passing the N-CLEX exam), an individual can choose to specialize in an area of interest such as acute care, surgery, pediatrics or cardiac care by getting a master’s degree in nursing (MSN).
Most facilities require applicants to have at least one year of on-the-job training (post-degree) to be considered for a position as a travel nurse.
Licensing and/or Certification
The N-CLEX certification exam, also known as the nursing boards, must be passed in order to receive licensure. A multistate licensure agreement known as the Nurse Licensure Compact allows licensed RNs interested in becoming travel nurses to work in other states that have agreed to the compact, as long as their licenses and continuing education credits are up to date. Specific state requirements vary so check the Nurse Licensure Compact regarding the state you'd like to work in.
Necessary Skills and Qualities
A travel nurse needs to be flexible and able to work in a variety of locations and settings. Excellent communication skills are a must, as travel nurses need to understand both the medical and social needs of patients. As with all nurses, travel nurses should be detail oriented and skilled in analysis. If they travel internationally, knowledge in the local language would be useful as well.
Opportunities for Advancement
Travel nurses who choose to continue their education can become nurse practitioners or nurse educators. If they want more variety, they can gain certification in another specialty. In all cases, the unique résumé of the travel nurse opens new opportunities in clinical, educational or management careers.
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