Best way to get RN experience to travel? How did you get experience?

Specialties Travel


Hello! I'm am a soon to be new grad RN with a long-term goal of being a travel nurse. My question to you is, "What is the best way for a new grad to get enough experience/exposure to become a successful travel nurse?"

I, of course, have heard that Med/Surg is the only way to go, but I have also heard some nurses tell me that ER would be the fastest way to gain exposure.

Please let me know what your opinion as well as how you gained your experience!


Almost all acute care nursing positions offer travel opportunities. The most important thing is to find the department that you enjoy, Some people love OR, some ER and some L&D. Three very different work environments. You need to find your "niche" Because If you hate what you do, traveling won't "make it better". Med-surge is usually the best place to start to develop those very, very important clinical skills then branch out into what interests you. I have a love/hate relationship with my job-in L&d but wouldn't do anything different!

Traditionally, hospitals only admit med-surg experienced nurses to specialty training programs. OK, that was 30 years ago! This is 2012, and most specialties will take new grads (good ones). Admittedly, it is harder to find an internship today than before the economy took a nose dive, but look hard and interview at every teaching hospital anywhere in the country that will have you. Two to three years in your specialty, and the world will be your oyster.

I would discourage you from taking a detour through med-surg. Take a look at the big picture. 20 years ago, med-surg ruled and most hospital nurses worked there. Times have changed, acuity is up, and hospital stays are a fraction of what they used to be, and will continue to shorten. Med-surg has been diminishing along with that for the last 20 years, and that trend will continue. Right now, med-surg travelers have the worst lot of all travelers. Hot and cold specialties will vary from year to year, but ER, OR, and L&D typically can pick and choose. ICU/telemetry will become the next bread and butter nursing position in hospitals. (Cath lab is red hot, but you need a lot of ICU experience first).

Pick the specialty that agrees with you the best and forget about what is currently hot. But med-surg is a loser from strictly a business perspective (I'm not going to argue one way or another if med-surg first is the best foundation for another nursing specialty, but there is no doubt that it will cost you a couple of years). If you do med-surg, the future for you will be LTC. Just saying.

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