What is Travel Nursing?
Travel nurses provide a valuable resource to healthcare providers and facilities needing temporary staffing assistance. Assignments usually range anywhere from 8 to 26 weeks, though most fall around 13 weeks. While the required level of expertise and care does not differ between travelers and permanent clinicians, when it comes to salary, travel nurses tend to earn roughly 15% more than an on-staff RN. Travel nursing gives clinicians the opportunity to advance their career while traveling the country and doing what they love - and who couldn't love that?!
How Does Travel Nursing Work
Due to nurse shortages, many healthcare facilities and hospitals lack the amount of nurses they need and often turn to agencies that can help provide short-term solutions without forfeiting quality of care or required expertise.
Most travel nurses take a 13 week assignment. Nonetheless it is very common for the facility or hospital to still need assistance, which would allow the traveler to extend their assignment.
Although rare, hospitals and facilities do have the option to end a contract early if there is no longer a need for the position. On the other hand, a nurse contract is a legally binding document and once signed, must be fully adhered to until the contract's end date. Of course, travelers always have the option of adjusting the contract's duration terms before their next assignment.
Hospitals Rely on Traveling Nurses
There are several reasons why hospitals opt to employ travel nurses. Aside from more flexible staffing options and providing relief to their regular staff, nursing shortages remain the primary factor in the rising demand for qualified RNs willing to relocate, if only for the short-term.
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that more than 1 million nurses are needed to meet the current demand while nurse employment opportunities continue to grow at a 15% rate through 2026.
Why You Should Work With a Travel Nursing Agency
Healthcare facilities and hospitals work closely with travel nurse staffing agencies to help bridge staffing gaps with qualified, experienced clinicians. While there are currently around 340 nurse staffing companies in the U.S., only 110 are considered 'certified' by the Joint Commission. Although, it’s not required that a nurse staffing agency be certified, most Magnet hospitals and larger academic hospitals only work with agencies that are.
Aside from connecting RNs with healthcare facilities actively looking to fulfill assignments, travel nursing agencies offer invaluable support & expertise to both the traveler and the hiring facility before, during and after placement. To ensure the interests of both parties are completely protected, the nurse staffing agency also provides the official 'nurse contract', a legally binding document outlining the agreed terms for assignment, like start and end date, pay rate, optional stipend, and more.
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The best travel nursing agencies typically provide some kind of education and/or assistance programs to clinicians needing a nursing license or license renewal for the state in which they are applying to work. Additionally, most reputable nurse staffing agencies tend to offer a bevy of other competitive employment benefits and perks as well, such as full medical, dental and vision packages; 401(k) retirement plans; free housing placement or housing stipends; and even discounts on hotels, car rentals, gym memberships and even shopping!