What is a Traveling Nurse?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2019
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A traveling nurse is a nurse who regularly relocates to new facilities, typically hospitals, rather than staying in a fixed position. Traveling nurses can quickly flood an area to meet demand for nurses, and they are accustomed to routinely relocating to better positions or facilities where they are vitally needed. Many traveling nurses are single, as this allows them to be flexible and highly mobile, but some have partners and families who stay put while they travel for work.

Many communities around the world are experiencing nursing shortages, and a skilled nurse usually does not lack for job opportunities. Traveling nurses are a very convenient way for medical facilities to fill staffing gaps. For example, a nurse on leave for various reasons might be temporarily replaced with a traveling nurse, or traveling nurses might help to cope with a natural disaster or similar event which places a strain on nursing personnel.

Because working as a traveling nurse can be stressful, traveling nurses are compensated accordingly. Many of them make very competitive wages which may include benefits, and some nurses are provided with housing, food allowances, and other benefits to make traveling for work easier for them. Some nursing agencies which will make payments on mortgages or offer other incentives to people who are willing to work as a traveling nurse.


One advantage of travel nursing is that it allows a nurse to experience a lot of different communities and work environments. For nurses who are interested in exploring while they work, being a traveling nurse can be a great option. However, traveling nurses also experience hardships, like difficulty maintaining friendships, and problems with local staffers. Traveling nurses may feel confused or constantly disoriented as they learn new hospital procedures, with each new location being like starting a totally new job all over again.

Numerous nursing agencies offer placement in traveling positions. Applicants must generally demonstrate that they have fulfilled the educational requirements for a career in nursing, and that they have passed any relevant board certifications. The more certifications a travel nurse has, the more useful he or she is, especially in the case of a traveling nurse who has qualified in multiple states or provinces. The company places nurses as needed in short-term employment positions, guaranteeing employment to its staffers by hiring out nurses to a large pool of hospitals, residential care facilities, clinics, and other establishments in need of nurses.



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