Taking Flight: Transitioning from Staff to Travel Nurse

Transitioning from a traditional staff nursing role to a travel nursing position can be an exciting and rewarding career move. Travel nursing offers the opportunity to explore new places, gain diverse clinical experience, and enjoy increased financial benefits. However, this transition can also be challenging, requiring careful planning and preparation. In this blog, we will address the steps, tips, and challenges involved in making this career shift, helping registered nurses navigate this transition successfully.

Step 1: Research and Self-Assessment

Before you embark on your journey into the exciting world of travel nursing, it’s really important to take some time to do some thorough research and self-assessment.

  1. Explore Your Motivation: Reflect on why you want to become a travel nurse. Is it the desire for adventure, financial incentives, or professional growth? Understanding your motivation will help you make the right decisions.
  2. Research Agencies: Start researching travel nursing agencies. Look for agencies with a good reputation, strong connections with hospitals, and comprehensive support services. Read reviews and speak with current or former travel nurses for insights.


Step 2: Meet Educational and Licensing Requirements

  1. Maintain Licensure: Ensure your nursing license is up to date and in good standing. Travel nursing often requires nurses to be licensed in multiple states, so consider applying for compact nursing licensure to simplify the process.
  2. Advanced Certifications: Depending on your specialty, obtaining advanced certifications (e.g., BLS, ACLS, PALS) can make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.


female traveler with doing fist pump


Step 3: Build an Attractive Resume

To determine your total compensation, you’ll need to consider all the components mentioned above. It’s crucial to read your contract carefully and understand how each element contributes to your overall pay package. Keep in mind that tax implications may vary depending on your choices regarding housing, per diem, and other components, so consulting a tax professional is advisable.

  1. Highlight Your Experience: Craft a compelling resume that highlights your clinical skills and experience. Emphasize your adaptability, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities, as these qualities are highly valued in travel nurses.
  2. Obtain References: Request letters of recommendation from supervisors or colleagues who can vouch for your nursing skills and work ethic.


Step 4: Connect with Recruiters

  1. Agency Selection: Choose a reputable travel nursing agency that aligns with your goals and values.  Your recruiter will be your main point of contact, so building a good relationship is crucial.


Step 5: Assess Contract Offers

  1. Read Contracts Carefully: Examine the contract details thoroughly. Pay attention to compensation, benefits, housing, stipends, and assignment locations. Ensure everything aligns with your expectations.
  2. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask your recruiter for clarification on any contract terms or conditions you don’t understand.


Step 6: Prepare for Transition

  1. Secure Housing: Decide whether you want agency-provided housing or a stipend to find your own. Research housing options in your assignment location in advance.
  2. Finances: Set up a budget to manage your finances while on the road. Travel nurses often receive tax-free stipends, which require careful documentation.


Step 7: Embrace Challenges and Stay Flexible

  1. Cultural Adaptation: Be prepared to adapt to different hospital cultures, policies, and procedures with each assignment. Flexibility is a key trait for a successful travel nurse.
  2. Loneliness: Travel nursing can sometimes be lonely. Make an effort to build a support network in each new location, and stay connected with loved ones through regular communication.


Step 8: Keep Learning and Growing

  1. Continuing Education: Take advantage of the diverse clinical experiences travel nursing offers to enhance your skill set and professional growth.
  2. Stay Organized: Keep a record of licenses, certifications, and important documents to simplify the transition between assignments.


Transitioning from a staff nursing role to a travel nursing career can be an exciting and rewarding adventure! However, it’s important to approach it with careful planning and a willingness to adapt. By simply following these steps, you’ll be able to make a smooth transition and fully enjoy all the amazing adventures and rewards that travel nursing has to offer!

Whether you’re a seasoned travel nurse seeking your next assignment or you’re ready to dive into the dynamic world of travel nursing for the first time, our comprehensive job search portal is your gateway to exciting positions across the country. Connect with us today and take the first step toward fulfilling your next travel nursing adventure!

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