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What Does a Travel Nurse Do?

Nurses have multiple options when it comes to specializing in a particular area. Labor and delivery, critical care, pediatrics and geriatrics are just a few popular options. Nurses with a sense of adventure have another option that could lead to their dream job: travel nursing.

Travel nursing makes it possible for RNs to pursue areas of interest while exploring new places. It is possible to work as a travel nurse with an associate's degree, but a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will help RNs land the best jobs.

With the online RN to BSN program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, nurses can earn their bachelor's degree in just 12 months to prepare for an exciting career in travel nursing.

Ready to Become a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses help meet short-term staffing needs when hospitals and other healthcare facilities experience a shortage. Travel nurses work with staffing agencies, and there are hundreds to consider. Some are certified by The Joint Commission, a sign of high standards.

Travel nursing can pave the way to employment at leading medical centers. For example, 80% of Magnet hospitals use travel nurse staffing agencies, according to the American Nurses Association, with many hospitals preferring or requiring a BSN.

Travel nurses need to hold an RN license, but this does not mean they need a license from every state where they work. As the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) explains, RNs who obtained their original license under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) can work in other NLC states without additional licensing requirements.

What Are Some Benefits of Travel Nursing?

Travel nursing allows professionals to experience new and sometimes exotic locations, with flexible scheduling and paid housing.

Choose When You Work: Travel nurses have more freedom to set their own schedules. According to, contracts for travel nursing positions typically last 13 weeks. However, shorter and longer assignments are possible.

Choose Where You Work: Is the southwest appealing? How about California, the east coast or Alaska? Travel nursing gives RNs the flexibility to stay close to home or travel widely, and it can be a great way to find a good match before accepting a permanent position.

Try Out a Range of Healthcare Settings: Wondering whether a small hospital or large medical center is the best fit? Travel nursing gives RNs a chance to try out different healthcare settings.

Choose Your Shift: The idea of working three days a week, with four days off, sounds ideal to most people. But the reality of the 12-hour shifts that come with that schedule isn't for everyone. Travel nurses may have the option of choosing shorter shifts.

Earn More: The 2018 median pay for RNs is $71,730 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While compensation varies from one travel nurse to another, they can expect to earn more — over $100,000 a year according to "Quick" or "rapid-response" jobs (requiring RNs to report within days) typically pay more.

Enjoy More Benefits: From stipends for housing and meals to travel reimbursement and bonuses, overall compensation for travel nursing adds up. Compensation may even include scrub reimbursement and pet travel.

Travel nursing gives RNs the opportunity to decide when and where they work. Higher salaries and generous benefits add to the appeal. For aspiring travel nurses, earning a BSN can be the key to securing the best travel nurse jobs.

Learn more about the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's online RN to BSN program.


The Joint Commission: Health Care Staffing Services Certification

American Nurse Today: Travel Nursing: Is It Right for You? 5 Requirements to Become a Travel Nurse

NCSBN: Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) What Is a Travel Nurse?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses How to Make the Most Money as a Travel Nurse: 10 Tips for Higher Pay

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