Stand-out Travel Nurses: 7 Traits Recruiters and Employers Want


By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor

With an influx of qualified applicants and specialized requirements from employers, the travel nursing world can be competitive. So how can you stand out from the crowd and secure a great travel nurse assignment? offers insider tips from two high-performing nurse recruiters on the qualities that help travel nurses get noticed and placed in their dream jobs.

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1. Professionalism

Brandi Gallegos, senior recruitment manager with travel nursing agency Onward Healthcare, said that the most important quality she looks for in a travel nurse is professionalism. “I look for nurses who are able to handle themselves in a professional manner. I look to see if they can be professional in different types of environments and work with all types of colleagues and management styles,” Gallegos explained.

Facilities that hire travel nurses need to be confident that their short-term RNs can perform to the same standards of conduct and professionalism as their permanent counterparts. Displaying good listening and communication and skills, being prepared and dressing appropriately for any face-to-face interactions are all ways to display professionalism.

2. Reliability and trustworthiness

Teresa Healey, recruitment manager for American Mobile Healthcare, said that reliability is one of the most critical traits she looks for when screening potential travel nurse candidates. “We have to trust that the traveler is going to show up for their assignment on the first day.” Placing unreliable candidates at top facilities would not only damage the reputation of the recruiter and the nurse, but the travel nursing agency as a whole.

3. The ability to learn new skills and grow

The ideal travel nurse is experienced and skilled; he or she is also excited about getting out into the world and doing something new.

“People travel for different reasons, but the best nurses are looking to make some career advancements and gain some new knowledge,” Gallegos said. “People who are hungry to be in a learning environment and pick up new skills will go far in travel nursing.”

“Openness and willingness to learn is key as a traveler, because every hospital does things differently and you have to be willing to pick up new styles and adapt,” Healey said.

4. A great attitude

A positive attitude is crucial to the nursing profession in general, not just in the travel nursing world. Having a pleasant demeanor and sunny outlook will help nurses find more success and enjoyment.

“Even if there is a problem, a positive attitude as a travel nurse always makes things better,” Gallegos explained. “For me, I partner with my nurses, so I’m looking for someone who can show teamwork and a partnership in getting you the job you want.”

5. An open mind and flexibility

Travel nurses who remain flexible in their job expectations and schedules are able to come in to help a unit and really serve as an important facet of the team. On the other hand, nurses who are firm about their schedules and days they are unable or unwilling to work are much harder to place.

“Being able to work from unit to unit as needed and be flexible with the ebb and flow of what is going on with the hospital is very important,” Healey said.

6. Comfort with change

“Recruiters look for nurses who are able to move out of their comfort zone and demonstrate resilience. You’re going to be going into these hospitals, getting one or two days of orientation and you have to be able to ‘roll with the punches,’ so to speak. If you are very rigid and structured, and used to doing everything the same way, than it will be harder to succeed in travel nursing,” Gallegos said.

7. High-tech experience

Both Gallegos and Healey agree that computerized charting experience with electronic medical records/electronic health records (EMRs/EHRs) is a trait that is virtually nonnegotiable in today’s health care environment.

“EPIC is probably the number one system that hospitals have moved over to, and having experience with this program will be an advantage,” Gallegos said. In fact, most facilities are now requiring this experience, Healey concluded.

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