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Do you have what it takes to be a traveling nurse?

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Working as a traveling nurse can sound pretty glamorous. You get to travel to different cities and see the country, all while doing a job that truly helps people.

While this career option may sound ideal to some, for others, being a stationary nurse is a more fitting choice. Traveling nurses need a few special characteristics that set them apart from stationary nurses.


Be qualified for the job

To be a nurse anywhere you first need to be a registered nurse with a basic degree, and being a traveling nurse is no different. However, it is also helpful to have additional education, like a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, as well as a specialty like ER or radiology. Your specialty will make you more desirable and will increase the possibility of being assigned to your first choice cities.

The most sought after locations are often reserved for the nurses with the most experience and best qualifications.

Traveling nurses are expected to enter a new location and jump right in with everything going on. The doctors and fellow nurses at that location won’t have time to give you special attention and training, so they want someone who is already confident and intelligent.

“The most sought after locations are often reserved for the nurses with the most experience and best qualifications”

You should have a solid knowledge of what you need to do along with the proper training to back it up. Often, it is a good idea to establish yourself as a stationary nurse in one location before you decide to become a traveling nurse.

If you feel like you won’t be able to do your job well without some immediate supervision, working as a traveling nurse may not be the best decision for you at this time.


Enjoy traveling

To become a traveling nurse, you need to like the thought of moving from city to city. This may sound obvious but you really need to be passionate about meeting new people and constantly changing locations.

Remember that you won’t just be sent to amazing locations like New York City or Orlando. Chances are you’ll start out going to more low-key cities with a calmer reputation, so you should be open to going anywhere, even somewhere that isn’t your number one choice. However, there are various sources you can use to find the job that fits best with you like Travel Nurse across America and Medical Solutions.

“Not everyone realises how demanding it can be to need to pick up and move multiple times”

As with any job that requires a lot of moving, a traveling nurse needs to be able to adjust to changing locations frequently. While you may not be asked to move to a new location every month, the average time for a traveling nurse to spend in one place is about 18 weeks. It is extremely rare for a traveling nurse to remain in one place for over a year.

Sometimes your nursing agency or work will make your living arrangements for you, but in other instances you will need to find these on your own. You should be willing to take what they assign to you or to find another apartment or home you can afford. Your work will also likely provide a living stipend, so you should find rent that fits within your budget.

Not everyone realises how demanding it can be to need to pick up and move multiple times over the course of the year and as such, it is important that you love the nursing job enough to be willing to constantly move around.


Adjust easily

With all of the traveling it is important that you feel good about adjusting to new locations on a regular basis. Your job will be the same wherever you go, but the way things are run is sure to differ according to location. You will need to be ready to adjust to different supervisors and varying procedures.

As a traveling nurse, you should be able to pack up your belongings easily and travel light. You will not always be able to take everything with you to your next location, like your favorite love seat or pet labrador. Before you decide to become a traveling nurse, determine if your possessions are too important to you to leave behind and if you will be able to only pack the bare minimums.

Additionally, you’ll need to feel comfortable moving to a location and forming relationships on a short-term basis. But luckily, there are many easy ways to stay in contact with any people you become particularly close to.

Remember that the adjustment can be difficult not just for you but also for anyone you travel with, such as a spouse, friend, or child.


Those who have travel nurse jobs can testify to the demanding but rewarding nature of their chosen career. While the constant change can be difficult, it is also one of the biggest perks. Those who qualify for this job are in for the adventure of a lifetime.


Theo Schmidt is a freelance blogger

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