TRAVEL NURSE: Caring while Exploring

The global shortage has created such as huge impact on healthcare systems.  In the United States alone, it is facing an impending shortage of nurses according to the American Nurses Association, and is expected to reach its peak by 2020.  Many reasons can be cited which include the aging population of nurses where the average age of the RN population is estimated to be 46.8 years in 2004.  This is further aggravated by current trends of nurses going on early retirement or leaving the profession and fewer new nurses to replace them.

The imbalance in the supply and demand for nurses has brought about the evolution of nursing specialties or fields such as Travel Nurse.  This is a job where the nurses usually work on three-month assignments or depending on contract, on specific assignments which can be locally or outside the state or country of location.  The demand for travel nurse in the United States is extremely high because of the nursing shortage, but in the Philippines, travelling nurse as a field of practice is not considered as still there are not enough jobs to fill in.  If however one intends to work as a travel nurse, there are certain qualifications.  Basic of which include the following:

  • A graduate of a nursing degree (Bachelor of Science in Nursing [BSN] or an Associate Degree in Nursing [ADN])
  • Holder of a current license issued by NCLEX-RN
  • At least 12 months of clinical practice
  • Others, which are usually state specific

Becoming a travel nurse is not as complex as becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) nor a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).  Often times, travel nurses need only the basic hospital and unit orientation as they are already equipped with applicable skills to their area of practice.  To purse this interest, travel nursing company or agencies are available.  These travel nurse company provides the job placements for nurses.  To entice more nurses, they may offer sign-on bonuses, travel insurance, housing, tax free plans and medical benefits among others.

Travel nursing can be described as an exciting career option as it provides opportunity for nurses to be exposed in a variety of institutions or health care facilities including the prestigious ones thereby gaining a dynamic experience providing continuity of care aside from being able to explore new places.  In terms of compensation, travel nurse’s salary is not as high and is almost similar to that of other nurses.  On the average, travel nurses are paid $30-$50 per hour including overtime pay but this depends on a hospital’s staffing urgency and geographic location.  A travel nurse may also opt to be become permanent in one location and move with his or her family.  It cannot be denied that this field provides the travel nurse opportunity to choose a work location that best suits his or her characteristics or preferences.  To experience all these, aside from meeting the requirements, travel nurses must exhibit flexibility particularly in differing practice set-ups; adaptability with culture amongst vast health care facilities; assertiveness despite an ever changing members of the health team; strong organizational and interpersonal skills to meet patient needs; and confidence and ability to learn new skills.

Byron Webb Romero, RN, MSN

Finished BSN at Lyceum of the Philippines University, and Master of Science in Nursing Major in Adult Health Nursing at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. Currently working at Manila Doctors College of Nursing as a Team Leader for Level I and II, Lecturer for Professional Nursing Subjects, and also a Clinical Instructor.

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