Must-Dos for the New Graduate Travel Nurses
By Lee Soren, contributor
While travel nursing was once limited to healthcare professionals with extensive experience, the high demand for nurses in many regions now means that travel nursing jobs are a serious possibility for recent graduates. Even nurses with less than a year of employment experience are now being drawn by the excitement of traveling and the prospect of higher salaries and great benefits.
If you're a new graduate travel nurse ready to embark on this exciting journey, here are five must-dos for launching a successful career.
1. Gain confidence in your abilities
Travel nurses often take positions in facilities that have an immediate and pressing need for nursing services, which brings an urgency to the position, forcing nurses to orient to their new positions quickly. This means adjusting to an unfamiliar environment, learning a whole new set of policies and procedures and adapting to new coworkers with little training and supervision.
When combined, these things can be a tall order for even experienced nurses, but for new graduates, it can be downright overwhelming. It also makes it vital for new nurses to be confident in their basic nursing skills and abilities before taking on a travel nursing job. That foundation of confidence makes it possible to step comfortably and successfully into new experiences as a traveling nurse.
2. Be able to identify your in-demand skills and experience
According to the American Nurses Association, if you're a new nurse, one of the best things you can do to stand out from the crowd and get the position you want is to create a resume that highlights any in-demand skills or experiences you have.
Some examples of high-demand skills are:
- The ability to speak two or more languages fluently
- Specialized computer or technology skills, such as experience with electronic medical records
- The ability to run specialty equipment, such as dialysis machines
- Knowledge of quality assurance procedures
In-demand experience can also include significant internships that you held while getting your degree, such as those at world-class or specialized hospitals. It can also include any specialties you have. According to Becker's Hospital Review, certain nursing specialties are also in high demand, including ICU nurses, med-surg nurses and ER nurses.
3. Get your paperwork in order
Travel nurses need to be licensed in the state they'll be working in. If you're going to be working in a state that isn't part of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, which lets nurses practice in multiple states under a single license, you'll need to apply for a state license. Because that process can take up to several weeks, it's a good idea to start the process early.
You'll also need photo identification, such as a driver's license or passport, and proof of your right to work in the United States or Canada, which generally means a Social Security card and/or a U.S. birth certificate. You should also be able to present any certifications related to your specialty.
4. Do your research
Before you accept a travel nursing position anywhere, you should do some basic research. While you should absolutely search for information about the hiring hospital or medical facility so you can understand their specialties or a specific approach to medicine, relevant demographics — for example, if the hospital has a religious affiliation — and other vital information, you may also want to learn about the region where you're planning on staying. Seek out helpful information, such as the climate, cost of living, safest areas to live and the best ways to get around, including traffic conditions and public transportation.
Research can include libraries, internet searches, discussions with a potential employer and looking at regional living guides, such as Sperling's Best Places. Your recruiter or travel nursing agency can also be a fantastic source of information, as can other traveling nurses.
5. Partner with a travel nursing organization
Particularly for new graduate travel nurses, navigating temporary contracts can be challenging and time-consuming. By partnering with an organization such as Travel Nursing, you can find the positions that are right for you and get the help you need to reach your career goals as you seek out your next assignment. To get started with a career as a travel nurse and find exciting jobs in top locations, visit our job search today.