Imagine: one day, you’re navigating bustling urban settings where medical centers tower like steel giants, and the next, sleepy towns where local hospitals are the community’s beating heart. With each move, you adapt, learn new protocols, fit into different teams, and explore the unique tapestries of local culture and cuisine. 

Sounds appealing? 

If you’re a nurse with at least one year of experience in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, becoming a CVICU travel nurse can be an incredibly rewarding opportunity that allows you to travel the country while caring for the critically ill. 

But what opportunities are there for professional growth within CVICU travel nursing? What kind of staffing and support can you expect? And how do you prepare for, and then actually handle, all of the transitions? 

Whether you’re an experienced travel CVICU nurse or are about to embark on your first travel assignment, this guide has the expert tips you need to enhance your CVICU travel nursing adventure. 

Understanding the CVICU Travel Nursing Environment

As you know, the CVICU is a fast-paced environment where life often hangs in a delicate balance. Here, patients often require complex care for severe cardiovascular issues—a leading cause of death globally. 

To that end, as a standout CVICU travel nurse, you should have:

  • At least 1 year of experience in a CVICU setting
  • Strong knowledge in LVAD/RVAD, heart transplants, intra-aortic balloon pumps, arterial lines, and EKG rhythm interpretation
  • Proficiency in managing patients on ventilators, titrating multiple vasoactive and sedative drips, and administering all types of IV medications
  • A solid understanding of how to provide pre- and post-operative care for heart surgery patients

In addition, certifications such as BLS, ACLS, and NIHSS are typically mandatory, while certifications like CCRN can enhance your profile. ECMO experience is also a bonus, although it’s not always a requirement. 

Preparing for Your New CVICU Assignment

Whether this is your first or your fiftieth travel assignment, preparation is an ever-important step. Planning ahead gives you the space and flexibility you need to adapt to new situations and excel in your role.

To help you prepare for your upcoming travel assignment, consider the following tips:

  • Get a head start on paperwork – Especially for first-time travel nurses, the documentation process can be lengthy. Skip the last-minute stress by ensuring you have all your medicals, certifications, and licenses on hand and submitted as early as possible. Fortunately, when you partner with a team like Host Healthcare, you don’t have to worry about anything slipping through the cracks—we ensure that all your pre-assignment paperwork is completed and submitted well ahead of time.
  • Map out your travel plans – Set aside time to map out important travel details, like transportation to and from the airport, as well as places you want to visit during your off days. This way, you can make the most of your time on assignment.
  • Familiarize yourself with your new surroundings – If your schedule allows, try to arrive at your new assignment location a few days before your start date. Take this opportunity to explore the area and find places that align with your routine and interests, such as the nearest gym, grocery store, and coffee shop. You can even take a test run of your commute to the hospital to ensure you know the best route and exactly how long it will take to get there.

In the workplace itself, be ready to adjust to fluctuating census levels, which may require you to float to another intensive care unit or even step-down units like PCU or telemetry, if needed.

Being mentally prepared for these diverse clinical situations goes a long way in making your integration smoother and more successful.

Building Collaborative Relationships in the CVICU Team

One of the greatest joys (and challenges) of travel nursing is meeting new team members with every assignment. Let us explain: It’s a joy to meet new and interesting workmates, and a challenge to adapt to their quirks and existing team dynamics.

What can help? 

Take the initiative to introduce yourself to the team, learn their names, and understand their roles. Be proactive in offering assistance and seeking guidance when needed. Remember that every hospital has its own unique personality, so approach differences with curiosity and an open mind. 

By being proactive in building a positive and collaborative work environment, you can enhance the quality of patient care and create a more enjoyable experience for yourself.

Maintaining Well-Being and Resilience in CVICU Travel Nursing

CVICU nursing can be emotionally and physically demanding—especially as you change assignments every 13 weeks. With 93% of healthcare professionals reporting that they feel stressed and stretched thin, self-care is a must for long-term success.

To that end, consider these tips for how you can prioritize your well-being while traveling:

  • Whether it’s exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature, find what helps you decompress and make it a part of your routine.
  •  If possible, consider traveling with a pet. Pets can provide significant emotional support, helping reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness and calm.
  • Maintain relationships with family and friends through regular calls, video chats, or social media. 
  • Use your days off to explore your new surroundings, dive into hobbies that make you happy, or simply rest.

Remember: it’s okay to ask for help or take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed. After all, you can only provide the best possible care to your patients when you’re feeling healthy yourself!

Leveraging Mentorship and Resources Throughout Your Assignment

Those studying how to become a CVICU nurse often worry that travel nursing will hurt their chances to grow due to the constantly changing assignments. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, as a CVICU travel nurse, you have access to a wealth of knowledge and experience—both within your assignments and through your travel nursing agency. 

For instance, top agencies like Host Healthcare offer resources such as:

  • Dedicated recruiters and customer support teams that are available to provide guidance every step of the way 
  • Online resources that keep you updated with professional insights from the field

In addition, almost every assignment has a few CVICU nurse veterans who can serve as mentors during your stay. So, don’t hesitate to ask questions, observe their practices, and seek feedback on your performance.

Expanding Expertise through Continued Education in CVICU Nursing

Cardiovascular care is an ever-evolving field, and as such, it demands ever-expanding expertise. To excel in CVICU travel nursing, a commitment to lifelong learning is essential. 

To keep yourself on the cutting edge, try taking advantage of educational opportunities such as: 

  • Continuing education courses
  • Certification programs
  • Conference attendance 

You can also stay current with the latest research and best practices in CVICU nursing by reading relevant journals and participating in professional organizations. Consider pursuing advanced certifications, such as CCRN or CSC, to demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the specialty.

The Importance of Recognizing and Celebrating Professional Growth in CVICU Travel Nursing

As you progress through your CVICU travel nursing journey, take the time to recognize and celebrate your professional growth and accomplishments. Reflect on your past few CVICU nursing jobs with thoughtful questions like: 

  • What challenges have I overcome that would have previously been too much for me? 
  • What new skills have I gained over the course of recent assignments? 
  • What impact do these accomplishments have on my patients, friends, and colleagues? 

Share your successes with your support network, including your travel nursing agency, and consider mentoring newer CVICU nurses to pay it forward. 

Celebrating your achievements is an important way to boost your confidence, which in turn reinforces your commitment to delivering excellent care to your patients.

Transitioning Between CVICU Assignments

As a CVICU travel nurse, you’ll likely experience multiple transitions between assignments over your career. How can you ensure each one is as smooth as possible? Consider just a few ways:

  • Start preparing in advance – RN licensing timelines can vary significantly by state—from 48 hours to 4-8 weeks. To avoid any gaps between assignments, start the licensing process for your next location well before your current contract concludes. 
  • Ask for references – As you wrap up an assignment, take the opportunity to gather references. Ask your supervisors for recommendations and keep their contact information handy. Coupled with a winning CVICU nurse resume, these references can be invaluable when applying for jobs in the future and also help maintain professional relationships that could lead to even more CVICU travel nurse jobs.
  • Stay in touch with your recruiter – Your travel nursing agency is your best friend during transitional periods. Keep them informed and updated at every step so they can help you with travel, housing, and credentialing needs.

Elevate Your CVICU Travel Nursing Career with Host Healthcare

The life of a CVICU travel nurse is one of change. But even amidst these changes, one thing remains the same: our commitment to providing you with the support you need to thrive in your career.

Whether you’re a seasoned travel nurse or studying up for your first assignment, Host Healthcare is with you every step of the way. Our experienced recruiters specialize in placing CVICU travel nurses like you in top facilities across the country, ensuring that you have access to the best opportunities to grow your skills and advance your career. Plus, we provide ongoing support throughout your assignment, comprehensive day-one benefits, housing assistance, and more. 

Apply today and see how Host Healthcare can make a difference in your CVICU travel nursing career.




McNamara, K., Alzuhaidi, H., and Jackson, J. “Cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of death.” National Library of Medicine. February 4, 2019. Accessed April 16, 2024.

“Let’s Talk Mental Health.” Host Healthcare. Accessed April 16, 2024. 

“The Power of Pets.” News in Health. February 2018. Accessed April 16, 2024.

Walker, A. “RN Licensing Requirements by State.” July 20, 2022. Accessed April 16, 2024.