This May, I will finally graduate, again. I say again because this will be my second degree. The prospect of putting additional letters behind my name, well it isn't all that exciting to me. It seems that other people are more excited about my graduation than I am, but that's no reason to not have a party :)
But what to do after this built up graduation? There has been something that I keep coming back to, and that is my love for traveling. It is quite convenient that I have a job that allows me to travel and work, all while getting paid more than I would if I just settled down somewhere and got a regular hospital job. Where do I sign up?
While it sounds like a dream, there are quite a few questions to be asked, and things to be secured before one ventures out across the country. First, is to find a reputable company. This is where I'm starting. Ask your fellow nurses if they know someone who has traveled, and get in contact with them. Find out which companies they have worked for, and which ones they would work for again. Repeat business is a sign of a good company. Actual or past travelers are going to give you honest information, while the recruiters are going to give you sweet talk to get you on board.
You also must decide where you want to go. Someone who only wants to go to Hawaii and work day shift will have a much harder time finding an assignment than someone who specifies "somewhere warm". Be flexible, it will only open more doors.
Other important information to find out: benefits, housing, and of course, pay. Benefits can make or break a deal for some people, but if they aren't so important to you, you can get that extra money in your paycheck. Housing is usually provided, and some companies even offer a stipend if you want to secure your own housing, or perhaps stay with someone you know (that can equal more cash in your pocket). Pay is generally something that draws nurses to traveling. I've seen upwards of $50/hour plus completion bonuses. Now what you have to do for that $50, I can't say, but I assume that you will be working hard for the money. There are also referral bonuses that come in handy when you know people that want to break into the travel nursing scene.
Keep in mind, that each state you travel to requires that state's license, unless of course you are luck enough to live in (and have residency in) one of the NLC states (see https://www.ncsbn.org/nlc.htm). Don't freak out here, YOU DO NOT NEED TO TAKE THE BOARDS AGAIN! Getting another state's nursing license is a fairly easy process. They call it endorsement. This endorsement comes with a fee, but does not incur the headache that taking a national board licensure examination does. The travel company may or may not reimburse for this fee, so find that out beforehand. There are also usually fingerprinting fees, drug testing fees, and other "fees".
Not to mention, how the heck are you getting to where you need to go?! Some people find a road trip fun and exciting, while others like to jet set across the nation. Things to keep in mind include: how long you are planning to stay, how many items of clothing and shoes you can fit in your luggage, and if you can really bear to part with you collection of unicorns.
If you are considering travel nursing, remember, this is just a brief synopsis of preliminary considerations before joining the world of travel nursing. It can be a very rewarding career choice.
Just remember, travel nurses must learn to pack lightly, and be flexible.