NURSE TRAVELING

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If this is your first rodeo with nurse traveling, let us give you the 411 with this helpful guide on the ins-and-outs of travel nursing. 

 

THE INS-AND-OUTS OF NURSE TRAVELING

What is a Nurse Traveler?
 

Travel nursing refers to any healthcare professional that takes on a temporary healthcare assignment of varying length.  While travel nursing does refer specifically to the nursing profession it is also a 

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Is Travel Nursing for You?
 

If you’re a staff nurse that has ever considered travel nursing, then this is the section for you. Travel nursing offers a variety of benefits and a change of pace for anyone looking for something new, but it’s not for

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Travel Nursing Qualifications

To get started as a travel nurse there are a few things you should note: Most travel nurses are registered nurses (RNs) and have 2+ years of experience. In order to start the process for travel nursing with Next Move you will also need

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How to File Your Taxes

Travel nurses filing their taxes for the tax year will need to take the current year’s new tax laws into consideration before they file. On a yearly basis, there may be a number of features and a number of changes that can

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Salaries & Benefits 

According to Indeed, the average yearly salary for a travel nurse is $75,109. However, since pay is competitive in travel nursing, some companies are offering salaries around $100,00 annually for domestic 

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Travel Nursing Perks
 

One of the most prominent benefits of being a travel nurse is having a stable, highly in-demand career with the opportunity to travel all over the country, and even the world. But wait, there’s more!

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CHECK OUT THIS MONTH'S HOTTEST JOBS

 

Let's start with the super basics: What is a travel nurse? 

Travel nursing started out as a response to a shortage of available nurses - where industry nurses were called upon to travel to work in temporary nursing positions, mostly in hospitals. Today it refers to any healthcare professional that takes on a temporary healthcare assignment, of varying length. While travel nursing does refer specifically to the nursing profession it is also a blanket term that can refer to a variety of health professions including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and even doctors and dentists.

 

​Nurses often pursue travel nursing to take advantage of the higher pay, professional growth and development, as well as a bit of travel and adventure.

​Travel nurses usually sign-up with a travel nursing recruitment agency to act as their intermediary and negotiator for assignments at hospitals - but nurses may also work as independent contractors. 

To check out Next Move’s latest jobs: Click Here!

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What are the qualifications of a travel nurse? 

To get started as a travel nurse there are a few things you should note:

  • Most travel nurses are registered nurses (RNs)

  • Have 2+ years of experience

In order to start the process for travel nursing with Next Move you will also need:

  • Active license for your specialty 

  • Updated resume (see free resume builder here) 

  • 2 manager references within the last 2 years

  • Completion of skills test for your specialty

Next Move will assign you a recruiter who will work with you one-on-one to find the assignment that best matches your needs. Your recruiter will be your contact person and help guide you through the entire process of locating and applying for that ideal position.

Think about where you would like to go, the type of nursing you would like to do and the size of the facility you hope to work in.  Providing all of the above information to your recruiter will help them find the assignment that is just right for you.

The last step is interviewing for the position. The interview will likely be by phone or video chat. If all goes well – you’ll have an offer within a few days!

Educational Requirements

The requirements to be a travel nurse are much the same as those requirements to become a staff nurse. You should first pursue a nursing degree through a two or four-year university. Obtaining an associate degree (ADN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN) in nursing is required. A BSN is not required to be a travel nurse, but many health care facilities will only hire BSN-prepared nurses. Next Move will match the nurse appropriately based on educational requirements.

​After completion of an accredited nursing program, successful completion of the NCLEX-RN is required to obtain your nursing license.

Most travel nurse agencies require a minimum of one year of hands-on experience in the chosen specialty of nursing.

 

​Certification and Credentialing

No additional exams are required for travel nursing. Based on the specialty, certification(s) may be required. Examples include:

  • Medical/Surgical nursing

    • Basic Life Support (BLS)

    • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) may be required

    • Stroke care certification

    • Telemetry certification

  • Intensive Care (ICU) nursing

    • Basic Life Support (BLS)

    • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

    • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

    • Critical care nursing (adults, pediatric, neonatal)

  • Women's Health/Labor and Delivery nursing

    • Basic Life Support (BLS)

    • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) may be required

    • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) may be required

    • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certification

  • Emergency Room nursing

    • Basic Life Support (BLS)

    • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

    • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

    • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)

    • Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC) certification

Licensing Requirements

As a travel nurse, you will need to get your nursing license in the state in which you choose to work. Each state has its own nursing license requirements and some states offer a Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) which is an agreement between states that allows nurses to hold one valid nursing license that works in numerous states. Learn more about Nursing Compact States here. Many states throughout the Midwest have an NLC.

At Next Move, we’ll walk you through the process to make sure you’re licensed in the state(s) in which you’d like to work. We pride ourselves on our streamlined nursing license process, which has helped many nurses expedite the licensing process. ​

Whether you're interested in a nursing compact license, an RN walk through state or simply need to renew an existing nursing license, we are here to help.

​Required Experience

Most hospitals and healthcare facilities prefer travel nurses to have at least one year of nursing experience in the nursing specialty they will be contracted for. This can vary by assignment and hospital, so the best way to find out if you will qualify for a specific assignment is to reach out to a recruiter directly.

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Is Nurse Traveling For You?

If you’re a staff nurse that has ever considered travel nursing, then this is the section for you. Travel nursing offers a variety of benefits and a change of pace for anyone looking for something new, but it’s not for everyone.  Like any position, travel nursing jobs have their ups and downs, and here we’ll take a little dive into what those are. 

Interested in what other nurses have to say about travel nursing? Check out our Meet a Nurse Traveler section!

​Are you Looking for Stability?

The joy of a staff nursing job is you know where you’ll be employed almost indefinitely. And while the job of course varies from day to day as different patients are checked-in and checked-out, many nurses enjoy returning to the same job each week, with the same co-workers, at the same health care facility.

Travel nurses on the other hand exchange a little of that stability for the thrill of adventure. You can absolutely plan assignments back-to-back so you’ll always have consistent (and often higher) income but you may not always be able to work at the same hospital, with the same patients. Instead you’ll jump into an exciting world where everything and everyone is new. You’ll expand your skill set and master the art of “showing your stuff” at each new facility you work at.

If you do prefer the longevity a staff position provides but want to get your toes wet in travel nursing, consider asking your recruiter about extending your contract. While not always possible, many travel nurses end up working at the same hospital for at least six months, which gives them plenty of time to establish some roots, build some friendships, and get to know the area in which they’re living. If you’re considering travel nursing for the first time, this may be a great in-between for you.

Are you really going to miss those office politics?
Guess what staff nurses never miss when they take jobs as travel nurses? Drama.

Unfortunately, when you work with the same people each week, it’s a bit hard to avoid disputes over schedules, pay raises, promotions, even staffing ratios.

When you work as a travel nurse – you’re immediately free of all that. You’re the new kid on the block and can easily stay out of all the office politics because you’re not stressing about being promoted or getting a better position – you’ve already got it!

The one downside is making friends will be a little harder because you're only on the assignment temporarily. However, everyone appreciates a nurse that focuses on their job and helps others accomplish theirs, and often times, invites to ‘Taco Tuesday’ happen quicker than you’d think.  

To learn more about how to make friends in your new location, check out Midwest Discovery, choose the state your considering, and click on “How to make friends in…”.

Gaining experience

When working as a staff nurse, it’s easy to quickly become an expert at various aspects of your job. You know exactly where things are, who to call, and what specific patients need. You’ll also know the most popular diagnosis, how to treat them and you’re familiar with the seasonal illnesses/injuries of your location.  

But if you’ve “been there, done that” and are looking to try something new (without the headache of switching specialties or going back to school) travel nursing is your answer. You can take a job in your home state to start off or jump right into a completely new territory. You’ll see a completely different set of patients, enjoy the various regional differences and most likely tackle disorders and/or illnesses you’ve never seen before. You’ll also work with different technology, a new set of friendly faces (doctors, nurses, administrative support staff), and learn a completely new way to get things done.

Of course, both staff and travel nursing jobs have their own unique opportunities to learn, you’ll just have to decide which is right for you.

Pay structure differences

There really isn’t too much difference between how a staff nurse is paid as compared to a travel nurse. Both track their hours. While staff nurses usually clock in with a badge before each shift and get paid on a bi-weekly basis by the hospital, travel nurses usually submit hours worked to Next Move, and are paid directly by Next Move on a weekly basis. If you find any discrepancies with your pay, you’ll want to work them out directly with Next Move and not the hospital for which you’re working.

Vacation time

So one of the obvious perks of being a staff nurse is earning paid time off. Depending on how long a staff nurse has worked for an organization they’ll earn anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks of PTO each year. In addition, most staff nurses will also have paid sick days. Travel nurses at Next Move do not acquire any paid or sick time off – which can of course seem super lame at the outset, and frustrating if you do need to take time off during an assignment. But what staff nurses never get, and travel nurses get in-between assignments is the ability to take time off whenever, and for however long they so choose. Because travel nurses tend to earn more per hour as compared to staff nurses (Next Move travel nurses earn $1900 a week on average) – the average travel nurse only works 36 weeks a year. That’s 16 weeks off a year!

To Stay or to Travel

A big difference between travel nurses and staff nurses are what they hold to be valuable in their personal lives. This can include raising a family, spending a lot of time with close friends, having new experiences, or going on new adventures. Travel nurses tend to be of the “new experiences/adventures” variety and usually have just a few years of experience and are seeking to take on new jobs and learn new things. Or they’re the empty nester type looking to spice up a lifelong career. Or they can be the young, adventurous family type that wishes to take on a nomadic lifestyle.

​Think about what values are important to you and choose the career path that best suits those values. ​

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Nurse Traveler Salaries and Benefits

According to Indeed, the average yearly salary for a travel nurse is $75,109. However, since pay is competitive in travel nursing, at Next Move, our nurses make on average of upwards of $100,000 a year for full time work.

Benefits
Next Move’s travel nurses receive comprehensive healthcare benefits, including medical, dental and vision insurance (with 65% of the premium paid by Next Move).

We also offer a 401(k) plan that is immediately vested with a 4% match. Additional benefits include competitive compensation, referral bonuses, direct deposit, the maximum allowable IRS travel stipend plus a healthy meals and expenditure stipend, educational opportunities, payment for licensing and certification renewals (ACLS, BLS, PALS, etc.) including licensing expenditures in new states, and payment for CE credits.

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Perks of Being a Nurse Traveler

​One of the most prominent benefits of being a travel nurse is having a stable, highly in-demand career with the opportunity to travel all over the country, and even the world. But wait, there’s more!

A Flexible Schedule
One of the most beautiful aspects of travel nursing is you get to decide when, where, and for how long your next assignment will be. You can take as long of a break as you need in-between assignments or simply hop from one assignment to the next, the choice is yours. Assignments vary in length, but the most popular length is 13-weeks. Some assignments also offer the flexibility to arrange for longer weekend and shorter work weeks.

Extremely Well Compensated
Of course none of this would be fun if you weren’t making a ton of money doing it. Did you know the average Next Move travel nurse earns around $100K each year? Travel nurses are given a unique opportunity to earn more than their staff nurse counterparts – in part because they’re filling in for a nurse shortage but also because they have the backing of travel nurse agencies, like Next Move, who go to bat for them to ensure they are getting the best compensation package possible.

 

The Travel Bug
Now, what’s travel nursing without a little bit of travel thrown in for fun? Living in a different city every few months means there will always be new and exciting things to try, foods to eat, places to visit, and interesting locals to meet! While moving around so often isn’t for everyone, it does come with some unique built-in personality builders like gaining more confidence and some career enhancing knowledge like learning about how nursing varies in different cities, hospitals, and healthcare facilities and what it’s like to work in a non-profit vs. for-profit or a trauma center vs. a community hospital.


Learning Mad Skills Beyond Nursing

One of the cool things about travel nursing is you’ll get to develop skills you simply wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn as a staff nurse. Take for example the fact that you can gain experience in different types of ICUs and patient experiences that you simply wouldn’t get if you were at the same hospital day in and day out.  By encountering an assortment of different people and situations in a healthcare setting, you’ll also learn to adapt by developing your critical thinking and communication skills.  Not to mention the skills you’ll learn by getting acquainted with a new city, finding your way around and making new friends.

A People Person
If you’re a people person, then by golly, this is the job for you. As travel nurses move from facility to facility, they’re given endless opportunities to meet and connect with people from all walks of life. Not only does this provide them with a broadened perspective on life, but it also increases their network of healthcare professionals. You never know where one connection might lead!

Job Security – Growth Opportunities

As we all know, there’s a nursing shortage and an endless demand for skilled nurses. In addition to the high compensation rate (the average nurse at Next Move earns close to a $100K a year) travel nursing helps your career in the long run as well. You’ll be exposed to many sides of the nursing profession and get to view it from different angles throughout your various assignments. Not only will this help you pinpoint the direction you’d like your nursing career to take but also give you a multitude of options to choose from when you decide to advance your career.

 

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How to File Taxes as a Travel Nurse 

Travel nurses filing their taxes for the tax year will need to take the current year’s new tax laws into consideration before they file. On a yearly basis, there may be a number of features and a number of changes that can potentially affect travel nurses.

Hire a Tax Professional

This is probably our best bit of advice. Even if you’ve been doing your own taxes without any issues previously, the recent changes with the tax laws can be a bit confusing. The benefit of hiring a tax professional is two-fold:

  1. They have a better understanding of the changes in tax laws and will compute your tax bill or refund with the utmost accuracy

  2. They can advise you of the steps you can take now to maximize any benefits in your future tax filings.

Be Aware of Your Tax Home

Those new to travel nursing will not be familiar with the term “tax home”. A tax home is basically the city in which you’ve worked for the past year. It does not necessarily mean the place you consider your permanent residence. 

Travel nurses may have had several “homes” in several states throughout the year. For tax purposes they need to choose one specific location to call “home” in order to calculate work-related expenses incurred away from that home. Recent tax laws have done away with personal business expenses (including mileage, CEUs, licenses, meals and incidentals).

 

Every tax filing is different, so it’s imperative you discuss your situation with a qualified tax professional.

Don’t Forget State Income Taxes

If you’ve worked in multiple states throughout the year, yes you will need to pay state income taxes in each of those states. One important note: you will not want to file as a “part year” resident in any of the states your worked at – even though you may have lived there for some time. You will only want to claim residency in the “permanent home” you used on your federal income tax return. Confused yet? Yes! It’s very confusing! Which is why we’ll just keep recommending you hire a qualified tax professional – especially if this is your first-time filing taxes as a travel nurse.

Keep Your Receipts

While recent tax laws have done away with many of the itemized deductions you could once claim as an employee– you will want to hold on to your receipts for 7 years in order to justify any reimbursements you’ve received as you could be required to show the receipts that were used to calculate your deductions in previous years.

Negotiate Your Reimbursement Package

When possible going forward, try to negotiate non-taxable reimbursements for travel, meals, continuing education requirements, licenses, uniforms and other equipment you may need for an assignment into your employment contracts. Since you can no longer deduct many of these expenses on your own when you file your tax return, perhaps your staffing agency will try to make individual contracts more attractive with a more valuable reimbursement package.

Next Move will give you the maximum allowable IRS travel stipend plus a meals and expenditure stipend as part of your contract.

*We are not tax professionals. Please consult with a professional tax accountant to discuss your individual tax return

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Nurse Traveling FAQ