How Soon Can You Be Ready to Travel?


By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor

You’re experienced, eager and ready to step into the exciting world of rapid response travel nursing. The unique nature of these assignments not only requires excellent clinical abilities, but also the ability to start travel nursing quickly, oftentimes with very little notice.

Betsy Pyle, senior placement consultant for NurseChoice, an AMN Healthcare company that specializes in high-pay, short-term travel nurse assignments, explained that start dates really depend on the needs of each individual facility. “A facility might be looking for someone to start within a week, or a facility might be looking for someone to start in three weeks,” she explained.

“For the majority of our assignments, the start dates are usually ASAP--and what that means to a facility is usually within a week or a couple of weeks.”

However, NurseChoice offers a lot of specialized projects and major scheduled events at facilities, such as electronic medical record (EMR) conversions. “With these types of projects we have quite a bit of notice because they are planned,” Pyle said.

NurseChoice assignments typically last anywhere from 4-13 weeks, but some of the larger projects or EMR conversions may require a longer commitment.

With quick turnarounds being the norm in rapid response travel nursing, being prepared to travel can be a major advantage. Once you apply online or over the phone and your application is processed and accepted, Pyle advises travelers to begin sending in the necessary documentation right away.

“It’s a good idea for nurses to begin sending in documents as soon as their file moves to active status: things like physicals, immunization records, etc. If we have these things on file, it makes it a lot less stressful.”

Once a nurse’s file is presented for an assignment, a nurse manager will often make an offer to the nurse just based off of what he or she sees, without an interview. That is why getting all of your work history and professional references to your recruiter and accurately filling out a skills checklist is so important.

NurseChoice also has a dedicated quality services and documentation department that helps each traveler with the required forms and certifications needed for each short-term travel nurse assignment.

Licensing can be a major obstacle to start travel nursing quickly. Obtaining licenses in advance for states where you would like to work is a critical component to overcome this issue.

Some states, like California, have many opportunities for short-term travel nursing, but the licensing process can take several months. “We have the majority of our needs in California, so I always tell nurses to apply for their California license ASAP so they will be ready to go.”

Recruiters can be extremely helpful for nurses who have questions about state licensing times or other aspects of rapid response travel nursing, and they can help RN job applicants start travel nursing quickly. In addition to giving advice, making sure her travelers’ documentation is up to date, and of course, finding the best short-term travel nurse assignments, Pyle also serves as a career coach and friend to her nurses.

“I tell my travelers to be open and be flexible!”

Job hunting? If you’re interested in traditional or short-term travel nurse assignments, apply today with or sign up for job alerts by text or email.

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