Traveling Nursing


I will be graduating with my RN in December and I am strongly considering going into Traveling Nursing. I was wondering if it is better to get a job in the field I am interested in or if it is better to start on a medical floor to gain experience with everything?

roser13, ASN, RN

6,504 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

Personally, I firmly believe that traveling nurses should have a basic solid background of med/surg experience before traveling. I acknowledge that some agencies are desperate for help and are hiring new grads.

Would I recommend that a new grad travel? No. Never.


1,231 Posts

Specializes in ER/Tele, Med-Surg, Faculty, Urgent Care. Has 39 years experience.

IMO you need at minimum 2 years of solid med-surg experience before taking travel assignments. As a new grad there is a steep learning curve, time management plus just general medical-surgical floor knowledge. Can you handle 6-8 patients right now? Do you know want typical night shift routine is? What about medications? Are you familiar with with basic skill sets (IVs, ngs, foley, wound care etc) and can perform without asking for help? When you are at clinical look at the nurses that are the experts on the floors, talk to those that graduated in the last year and ask them if new grad is ready for travel assignment.

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

OP- just be aware that the average travel nurse gets TWO DAYS of orientation- tops. Could you be a fully functioning, safe member of the team on TWO DAYS of orientation?


1 Article; 5,767 Posts

Medsurg experience will help you in any future specialty. That said, if you can get an internship at a teaching hospital in the specialty of your dreams right now, do it! Traditionally, it was rare to take new grads into a specialty until you earned it, but times have changed. Medsurg doesn't need as many nurses as before and new grads need to be placed. The need is really strong in fields like surgery, cath lab, and L&D so depending, you might be able to land a direct specialty.

Anna S, RN

452 Posts

[h=5]TRAVEL NURSE BASICS[/h][h=6]1. What are the requirements for becoming a travel nurse?[/h]The minimum experience requirements depend on your area of specialty, the facility, unit and sometimes even the location. The facilities we work with have different requirements and preferences, but the majority request a minimum of 18 months of experience. For some specialties such as Med-Surg, Psych and Rehab, the minimum can be as high as two years, and for LPN/LVN the minimum is typically six years.


2 Articles; 776 Posts

The OP isn't saying she wants to travel now... she wants to know which job she should pursue to put her in a good place for travel. Go with your specialty if you can get it. There are many specialties needed and you may decide not to travel in the end anyway.


11 Posts

Specializes in ED & Pediatric ED. Has 6 years experience.

I agree with the others when I say that I've been a travel nurse for the last 6 years and can tell you that if I didn't have a solid foundation befor I started I definitely would not have made it this long traveling. You should really consider getting some experience in Med/Surg, ED, ICU, or whatever you want to specialize in before you start to travel.


3 Posts

Yes I should have been more clear. I understand you have to have at least two years of experience. I was just wondering when I get a job out of school if I should start on the medical floor or if I should try and start in the specialty I would eventually want to do with traveling nursing.


1,221 Posts

Specializes in Peri-Op. Has 10 years experience.

Join your desired specialty as soon as you are able to. Don't wait if you don't have to.


45 Posts

Has 4 years experience.

Wanting to start on a medical floor regardless of what you want to do in nursing is admirable, but the depth of nursing is so broad that if you know where you want to go and what you want to do it's not worth it in this day in age. (This is coming from someone who did med-surg for a year, haha).

With that said, if you know you want to pursue travel nursing, then upon research of job prospects you will quickly discover that med-surg positions in comparison to L&D, ER, ICU & OR is not considered specialized. The best positions for travel are the one's listed (and a few others). Reason being hospitals pay premiums for these specialities and the demand is higher (meaning you can pretty much travel anywhere). In summary to your question, No, you don't need to do med-surg first. You actually would be limiting yourself and potentially eating up a whole year that you could be getting experience in the speciality you want to travel in.

Good for you for asking ahead!

I've never done med surg. I've been an OB nurse for 6 years. I've always said that if I had to do med surg I would've quit nursing a long time ago. I started in antepartum then went to labor and delivery. I only like OB. I only ever want to do OB. If your goal is to travel with a specialty you should see if you could get a job in that specialty. Like PPs said you need 2 solid years of that specialty before you can even start applying to travel. If you start in med surg you'd need 1-2 years to transfer to a specialty. That would be a waste of time to me unless you're young and have that time to kill.