10 Types of Travel Nurses

By Host Healthcare | July 18, 2020
Blog

Whether you are currently a registered nurse or nurse practitioner exploring a transition or currently working towards your nursing degree and considering a possible career path, there are many different types of nurses and a travel nursing job can have a lot to offer. In addition to a compensation package that is typically larger for healthcare travelers than what one would get in a permanent position, travelers also get to work with engaged professionals all around the country, explore new cities, meet new people, and strengthen their resume. If you are looking for a change in your nursing career, becoming a travel nurse may be the right path for you.

If you’re currently working in the nursing industry or have a nursing specialty, then you have almost certainly worked alongside travel nurses. What you may not have realized is that there are a number of different types of travel nurses. Travel nurses specializing in a particular field are highly sought after and well-compensated. Whether you are a charge nurse, an oncology nurse, or a nurse midwife, there are many opportunities to change your nursing career and work in a different field. Understanding the different types of nurses are out there can help current nurses and students in a nursing program determine whether a travel nursing career is the right opportunity for them.

What do Travel Nurses do?

So what does a travel nurse do, exactly? Travel nurses fulfill an essential function in our national healthcare system by providing on-demand skilled staffing for hospital systems around the country. Travel nurses are used where gaps in coverage would negatively impact patient care.

Travel nurses fulfill the same function and perform the same duties that their permanent counterparts do. A travel nurse is a temporary staff nurse, but their responsibilities are just as critical as if they were a permanent employee. Patient care remains central to everything nurses do, and travel nursing is no different.

Relying on their expertise and experience, travel nurses hit the ground running in their assigned hospital or healthcare organization to augment and strengthen the teams they are working with. If you’re an outgoing, engaged professional who loves working with and providing care for patients, you’ll love your time working as a traveler.

Can an RN be a Travel Nurse?

If you’re wondering whether an RN can be a travel nurse, the answer is a resounding yes! Registered nurses (RN) are in high demand across the country due to staffing shortages. To improve both your compensation and chances of securing the travel assignment of your dreams, RN’s can specialize in a particular area of care.

Let’s take a look at our top 10 types of travel nurses:

RN – Emergency Room

  • Education Requirement: Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC)

Emergency Room nurses are always in high demand for traveling positions. Working as an ER nurse requires a calm demeanor, quick thinking, and the ability to provide excellent care under difficult circumstances. If you think that this fast-paced environment is right for you, you may want to consider becoming an emergency nurse.

RN – ICU

  • Education Requirement: Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: Certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support

Nurses that specialize in Intensive Care Units (ICU) are some of the most sought-after in the nursing profession during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before COVID-19, ICU nurses are in consistently high demand at hospitals throughout the United States. The lack of skilled nurses able to fill these positions ensures that demand will remain high even after the current pandemic has subsided. Becoming an ICU nurse is challenging yet rewarding, serving as an excellent career path if you’re looking to change your current nursing job.

RN – Medical-Surgical

  • Education Requirement: Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: CNOR and Certified Nurse First Assistant (CNFA)

Being a medical-surgical nurse is one of the most common health care career paths for new nursing school graduates. Typically medical-surgical nurses will carry a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) certification and usually have at least two years of experience.

RN – PCU

  • Education Requirement: Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: Certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support

Nurses working in a Progressive Care Unit (PCU) care for patients that no longer need the level of care that ICU health care facilities offer. Patients in the PCU still require a high level of nursing care, and many of the duties that an RN-PCU performs mirror those of their counterparts in the ICU.  

RN – Telemetry

  • Education Requirement: Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: CMC or CSC

Patients in a telemetry unit are under constant electronic supervision by an RN. These RN’s are trained in the use of a variety of different types of equipment, such as an electrocardiogram to monitor the vital signs of patients under their care. Typically these patients are recovering from a cardiovascular issue such as a heart attack or stroke. While monitoring is a core function of a telemetry nurse, they must be able to pivot on-demand to provide critical care should a patient deteriorate.

RN – NICU

  • Education Requirement: Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC) or (NIC)

Registered nurses specializing in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) have a rewarding and challenging job of caring for newborns that require an increased level of nursing care. Working as a NICU nurse is often very challenging, yet also very rewarding. A NICU nurse provides hands-on care to premature and sick newborns, including feeding, administering medicine, and ensuring they are breathing properly.

RN – Labor and Delivery

  • Education Requirement: Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB), Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life support (ACLS)

Labor and delivery nurses work in the delivery room, providing care for both the mother and infant. This crucial role typically requires 24 months of experience and an Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification, as well as Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life support (ACLS) certifications.

RN – Operating Room

  • Education Requirement: Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: CNOR and Certified Nurse First Assistant (CNFA)

Operating Room (OR) nurses serve as part of a care team providing operative care for patients. OR nurses may serve in a number of different roles within the operating room setting, including preparing patients for surgery, assisting the surgeon during surgery, or providing post-operative care. Perioperative nurses typically hold the Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR) certification.

RN – PACU

  • Education Requirement: Masters Degree, Associates Degree or Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Registered Nursing License (RN)
  • Relevant Certifications: CRNA Certification

Nurses working in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) provide care for patients coming out from under the effects of anesthesia following surgery. PACU nurses will often sit for the Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN) certification after they have accrued at least 1,200 hours of clinical experience caring for patients in Postanesthesia Phase I.

RN – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

  • Education Requirement: Master’s Degree and Registered Nurse License
  • Relevant Certifications: N/A

Psychiatric-mental health nurses provide direct care for patients seeking treatment for mental illness, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and much more. Psychiatric nurses may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals and outpatient settings. Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP) work with individuals of all ages and often hold a national certification.

What Type of Travel Nurses Make the Most Money?

It’s difficult to pin down which travel nurse specialties make the most money. Pay for travel nurses, while typically higher than permanent nurses, varies depending on location and the specific assignment. Assignments in areas with a high cost of living will pay more than assignments in a lower cost of living area, and taking assignments in locations that are seen as less desirable can also result in higher pay.

As a general rule, nursing specialties that require a higher degree of specialization are more sought after. The nursing labor market is already tight, with many hospital systems unable to fill current openings. This is especially true for specialty nurses, which allows them to command higher wages for their expertise. 

Also, keep in mind that circumstances can have a big impact on how much your assignment pays. For example, travel nurses were enticed with hefty compensation packages to help provide surge staffing in New York during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those that had experience working in an ICU.

Where are Travel Nurses Most Needed?

A 2017 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) examined how demand for registered nurses compared with supply in each state. New Jersey, Texas, South Carolina, Alaska, and California were the states that were found to have the most demand for RN’s.

 In many of those states, demand was expected to outpace supply into 2030. For example, the projected demand for RN’s in California is anticipated to be 387,900 FTE positions, while projections only account for approximately 343,400 RNs in the state. Similarly, Alaska is projected to require 23,800 RN’s but may only have a supply of 18,400. The lack of local RNs to fill these positions will ensure that demand for traveling nurses will remain strong well into the future.

How to Become a Travel Nurse

If you’re a registered nurse (RN), then you’re already well on your way to becoming a traveling nurse. Traveling nurses are required to finish their education, pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), and then secure any licenses required in the states they want to work in. Once they have the experience under their belt that’s required for the assignments, which is typically at least two years of experience for a competitive assignment, they’ll be ready to begin working with a travel nurse staffing agency that will help find qualified nurses job opportunities. 

The agency that you choose to work with will help you find a travel nursing assignment or a nursing position to apply for. If you choose to work with Host Healthcare, you’ll be a valued part of our travel nursing team. Host Healthcare places travel nurses at some of the most competitive and prestigious assignments across the country. We work closely with our travel nurses to understand their career goals and aspirations, and to find assignments that are the right fit. With 24-hour emergency support, you’ll always be a phone call away from any assistance you need.

Closing Thoughts

Hospitals and medical facilities across the country have a constant demand for travel nurses, which are used to fill staffing gaps and ensure that patients continue to receive top-notch care throughout their stay. Whether you choose to work as an emergency nurse, ER nurse, or ICU nurse, there are many different ways you can providing nursing care to patients. Our list of the top-ten types of travel nurses illustrates the demand that exists in the healthcare industry for RN’s that possess a specialized skill set. Among the most sought-after travel nurses are RN’s specializing in working in the NICU, ICU, PACU, and ER.

If you’re a specialty nurse looking for a change of pace and to broaden your horizons while being well-compensated for your time, travel nursing may be the right fit for you. To learn more about becoming a travel nurse, contact our specialists at Host Healthcare today. One of our team members can walk you through the process of getting started, and once you are ready, connect you with a recruiter who can help you find the assignment of your dreams. If you’re ready to begin an exciting new chapter of your life as a traveler, contact Host Healthcare today. 

Sources:

  1. Beaker, Full. “Why Travel Nurses Typically Make More Money Than Staff Nurses.” Travel Nursing, Chaunie Brusie, 13 Dec. 2019, www.travelnursing.org/why-travel-nurses-make-more-money/
  2.  Hong, Nicole. “Volunteers Rushed to Help New York Hospitals. They Found a Bottleneck.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Apr. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/nyregion/coronavirus-new-york-volunteers.html
  3. United States. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Supply and Demand Projections of the Nursing Workforce: 2014-2030. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017. https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bhw/nchwa/projections/NCHWA_HRSA_Nursing_Report.pdf

 

Adam Francis

Article Reviewed by Adam Francis

Title: President, CEO

Home Town: San Diego, CA

Alma Mater: University of Notre Dame

Random Fact: Prior to starting Host, I was pursuing a graduate degree in philosophy.

Why Host Healthcare: Our team members in the office are champions in the industry and we only work with the best travelers who are dedicated to their field of work. These two factors combined make me excited to come into work every day to build a company dedicated to creating great experiences for everyone we encounter.

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