What is a Traveling Nurse?

  1. I'm not a nurse. Won't even start my pre-reqs until fall 2003. But I've been hearing a lot about "traveling nurses" and I would like to know more about it. Thanks.

    Bella Terra

    "In the midst of winter I have found within me an invincible summer." Albert Camus
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    About BellaTerra2002

    Joined: Dec '02; Posts: 191


  3. by   bagladyrn
    A traveling or contract nurse is someone who contracts with a hospital, either through an agency or independently, to work for them for a fixed period of time, supposedly to cover a short term need. In recent years, some hospitals seem to be permanently staffed by travelers, though. Most travelers work away from their home area, either by choice to see the country, or because of low wages, poor conditions in their home area. Travelers are expected to be able to "hit the ground running" and function in a new facility with minimal to no orientation.
  4. by   BellaTerra2002
    Ok, well, THAT will certainly be down the road a long time from now! If ever! :roll

    Thanks so much for answering.

  5. by   bagladyrn
    It's actually great! I've been a traveler for the last 6 yrs. and have no plan to stop any time soon. However, I wouldn't have felt comfortable doing it as a new nurse, though some people claim to feel they can.
  6. by   NMAguiar

    I've considered travel nursing after I graduate next year, and understand most of the companies require about one year of experience first.

    Would you feel comfortable after one year if you remain on a standard Med Surg floor? This would be a continuation of the area most student nurses are trained in, and where you completed your first 12 months as an RN.

    If you jumped to a specialty area -- ICU, ER, etc. -- as a traveler, I would understand a safety concern derived from limited experience in new environments.

    Also, I've heard travelers get disrespected a lot at new hospitals: the crappy assignments, difficult patients?
  7. by   bagladyrn
    NMAguiar - I think a lot would depend on your level of comfort and confidence. Maybe see how you feel 6 months into your first year. I wasn't thinking just about the safety issue, though that is a factor, but I found that even as an experienced nurse (14 yrs. when I started traveling) I still had a lot of trepidation about going to a strange place and jumping right in. After the first couple of assignment this eased, but it would be a lot of adjustment for a brand new nurse. I know that my company offers extended assignments that include a preceptorship for new nurses (don't know much detail, just that the program exists). I'm not sure what other companies offer similar arrangement.
    As for disrespect and crappy assignments, that does happen occasionally. That's where confidence and assertiveness come into play - I don't put up with it. On the other hand, some places really go out of their way to make you feel welcome since they really need the help. One of the docs here at my current assignment was overheard saying that he would have to be really nice to me because the other nurses would be really p.o.'d if he did anything to chase me off!
  8. by   NMAguiar

    Hee, hee! Three cheers for the doctor -- and the nurses that intimadated him!

    After speaking with several traveling nurses here in California where I live, I've almost decided it's the way to go; even if I don't leave my home town. One company is paying $33/hr plus a $930 living stipend/month -- nice little pocket cash while living in my own humble abode.

    Double that because my wife is also an RN, and we'd be bringing in $1,860/month, a bit more the $1,000 more than our mortgage, in stipend alone. And all separate from our reasonable hourly wages.

    Ya gotta love a good nursing shortage!

  9. by   Brownms46
    Hey bagladyRN...my friend..! I responded to you on Delphi, check it out when you get a chance. I just found out this past week that I have been extended, but they're only extending us a month at a time. I have no problem with that. So I will be here at least until the weather hopefully gets better. Is it snowing where you are?
  10. by   ruby360
    I started traveling after one year of experience and it was great! You have to make sure and do your research though (about the company you choose and the facility you will be going to)! You also have to be a quick learner and the type of person who can adapt quickly and "roll with the punches", so to speak. I am not working as a traveler currently because, this fall I just started graduate school to become an NP. I need to work part-time because, grad school can be more work than a full-time job! In addition, travel positions are not currently offered on a part-time basis. However, traveling for a year allowed me to gain invaluable experience and save up a lot of cash to put towards grad school! It would have taken me three years to save up that much working as staff! Until hospitals start putting more effort into retaining staff nurses (better wages and benefits), I think there will be an increasing trend towards utilizing temporary RNs. At one facility I worked at 90% of the night shift RNs were travelers and this was at one of the top ten hospitals in the nation!
  11. by   NMAguiar
    90 percent? Geez, nobody but the supervisors actually worked for the hospital! It must have been like a strike-breaking situation.

    With the upcoming nurse ratios in California, and the chronic RN shortage, I can't imagine how hospitals are going to staff sufficiently. Increased pay isn't to whole answer -- it's already recently been increased at many facilities within the past 12-months.

    It's getting bad. I can imagine hospitals closing wards and refusing patients because their isn't enough RNs in the reservoir to draw from. Travelers from other states may be the only answer.
  12. by   ruby360
    No strike situation, just not enough nurses!

    You're right, higher pay is not the whole answer but, I think increased wages would attract more people into the profession.
  13. by   mattsmom81
    I believe travel and agency is so popular now because nurses can more easily maintain some control over their careers and their lives this way.

    I've been on staff and I've done agency...agency is WAY BETTER for independent personalities. I usually stayed PRN somewhere for the slow times but I got SOOO tired of politics and pressure, I couldn't WAIT to get back to my agency work!!

    Nurses who travel are free spirits who love seeing a new area and working to make ends meet while doing it...it can be a great life for the right person!!

    I have friends who don't EVER want to try agency/travel and can't understand why I like it...they like being in the same place and get a comfort level there. We're all different.