The answer: Most travel nurse companies expect applicants to have at least two years of recent, full-time nursing experience gained in a specialty area.
But why two years?
It’s imperative that you are confident in your nursing skills. Healthcare facilities utilize travel nurses when there is a staffing shortage. Orientation is typically brief, as facilities have little time to devote to training temporary staff. There is an expectation that travel nurses can walk into any given assignment ready to work.
Travelers must be able to function efficiently and independently. Patient safety is extremely vital when completing care. If you don’t already know proper procedure, there may be no one who can train you. You need to be adept at completing the nursing tasks associated with your specialty area. For example, psychiatric nurses should be familiar with the use of seclusion and restraints while ICU nurses must be able to manage ventilation and life support equipment.
When you seek support on assignment, it should be to ask facility-specific questions such as, “Where do you keep catheter supplies?” You should not be asking, “Can you help me insert a catheter?” The facilities that employ travelers need those nurses to serve as a support to their team. If you often need support yourself, you probably aren’t ready to pursue travel nursing.
Obtaining at least two years of clinical nursing experience will provide you with a solid foundation in your specialty. While some companies may be willing to employ travel nurses with less experience, this can prove especially difficult once you’re on assignment. It is easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t have enough experience to draw upon.
Taking the next step
Before embarking on a travel career, you will want to ask yourself if you feel secure in your nursing knowledge and abilities. Are you flexible and can you adept easily to new situations? If this sounds like you, the next step is reaching out to a reputable travel nurse company. If you still feel too green, continue to work in your specialty until you feel confident. Plenty of opportunities will be available in the future, and the team at Tailored Healthcare Staffing will be ready to guide you through the process of being a first-time travel nurse when the time is right!