The healthcare field is booming, and nurses are in short supply nationwide. If you want to work and see the country, consider becoming a traveling nurse. You’ll be making a difference in Florida and beyond.
How to Become a Travel Nurse
A travel nurse is a licensed registered nurse (RN) who works on a temporary basis in medical facilities that need additional staff or help covering employee absences. It’s an opportunity to earn above-average wages while exploring Florida or other states.
Get started with these six steps:
Step #1. Earn a Degree
Getting the right education is the first step toward a travel nursing career. Agencies hire RNs, so the more you learn, the more you’ll earn, and the more in demand you’ll be. Registered nurses must have either an associate or bachelor degree, so choose a program carefully based on your needs and time commitments.
Step #2. Get Your Nursing License
Nurses are professional, state-licensed caregivers. New graduates must demonstrate competency by passing the NCLEX exam before they can work. A nationally recognized test, a passing grade means that nurses meet the basic competency requirements in most states regardless of where they were trained.
Florida is one of 40 and counting Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) jurisdictions. The eNLC allows RNs apply for a multistate license to work across state lines without having to obtain a second license. You’ll have the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges as in your home state. And you’ll only have to apply for a Florida license if you move there permanently.
Step #3. Gain Experience
Experience is a must for travel nurses to handle the stress of ever-changing assignments. Only by mastering nursing skills will you be comfortable moving from place to place. Most employers want RNs with a year of experience, more for emergency, intensive or critical care positions. The more diverse your work history is, the more travel jobs you’ll be qualified for.
Experience, however, need not be paid. By volunteering, you can rack up more practice hours without working longer before applying for a travel job. If you’re employed in a hospital, donating a few hours per weekend to a nursing home or low-income clinic familiarizes you with new environments and makes you a more valuable employee.
Step #4. Obtain Certifications
Certifications improve your value as a travel nurse. RNs certified in pediatrics, dialysis, care coordination, operating room techniques and post-anesthesia care will likely find jobs in these areas wherever they go. While some certifications may require additional education or training, any credentials you earn shine on a resume.
Step #5. Check Out the Territory
If you’re adventurous, you may not mind taking assignments in states you’ve never visited. While most nurses prefer an idea of what to expect for weather, culture, and entertainment. Since you will only be working in a new place for a few months, it’s a perfect way to try out new locations.
One benefit of traveling as a nurse is that assignments are limited to a few months, so you’re never stuck somewhere you don’t like for long. But if you plan to stay for a while, scheduling a visit first never hurts.
You can check out the climate, housing options, and commute times before committing to a contract. In a busy state, like Florida, there’s enough ongoing work to keep travel nurses consistently employed.
Step #6. Apply with a Traveling Nurse Agency
There are hundreds of U.S. employment agencies dedicated to travel nursing, as the field is growing exponentially. Getting a travel job is as easy as connecting with the right employer.
Pay and perks vary, so it pays to explore your options. Some agencies, for example, require you to find your own housing while others pay for hotels for short-term assignments. In-state agencies can help you get assignments from Tallahassee to Miami. Most travel nurses are asked to sign contracts, so just read the fine print and choose an organization you trust.
What Does a Travel Nurse Do?
Travel nurses move from facility to facility, taking temporary assignments. Most stints are 4-12 weeks. You’ll help cover unfilled vacancies and employee leaves, changing venues based on availability. Agencies act as brokers, hiring staff on behalf of hospitals and other facilities.
Travel nurses have the same basic responsibilities as any nurse, only the setting changes. Duties include:
- Planning, implementing, evaluating, and modifying nursing care
- Patient monitoring
- Safety interventions
- Assisting with activities of daily living and personal needs
- Administering medications, fluids, and blood products
- Performing treatments, such as tube feedings and catheter insertions
- Complex wound care
- Reviewing lab and imaging results
- Managing medical equipment
- Emergency care
- Patient and family education
- Clinical documentation
Where Do Travel Nurses Work in Florida?
Travel nurses are employed throughout Florida in:
Florida hospitals hire travel nurses in response to seasonal population fluctuations and natural disasters. As aging seniors come and go, the changing demographics make it difficult for acute care facilities to predict hiring needs. It’s easier to fill in temporary positions with travel nurses who are well-qualified and ready to work at a moment’s notice.
Opportunities are plentiful in emergency departments, telemetry units, critical care, and pediatric ICUs. A mecca for the elderly, operating room and orthopedic care nurses are always in demand statewide.
And if you’re experienced in different settings and are willing to join a float pool, a group of nurses who’ll accept all assignments, your stock as a travel nurse goes up. It’s a great way to impress employers who may ask the agency for you by name.
The diversity of experience you gain as a float nurse will also enhance your marketability should you decide to settle down one day. And if you’re a relatively new nurse, it’s a golden opportunity to figure out where you fit into the field by trying new types of nursing.
Urgent care clinics in Florida are thriving. Less expensive and more accessible than an emergency room, they fill a critical niche.
Staffing problems, however, are common as circumstances change. After a hurricane, for example, many employees may be displaced and in crisis as the clinics in affected areas are taking on more responsibilities. Travel nurses are invaluable resources, helping to fill in the gaps.
Rehabilitation facilities cater mostly to older adults, helping them overcome illness and injuries so they can safely return home. As in Florida hospitals, however, the patient population fluctuates.
Most are seniors, recovering from orthopedic surgery, such as a joint replacement or more complex health issues like following a stroke. However, many are also snowbirds, people from colder climates who travel south only for the winter.
Nursing homes work with stable, less acute patients, so they have less need for traveling nurses. Nursing homes usually have permanent residents due to their medical needs or low functional levels.
Finding year-round work in long-term care facilities may be challenging, but it’s one more opportunity to travel, utilize your skills and fight burnout among permanent staff, especially if you’re a registered nurse.
Dialysis centers care for patients with chronic kidney failure. Most are independent, providing on-site treatment. Others are home-based, offering peritoneal dialysis. If you’re dialysis-certified, travel jobs in Florida are easier to find.
Being a nurse is personally and professionally rewarding regardless of where you practice. However, only a select few enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the road. Whether you want adventure, better pay or more opportunity, you can take control of the wheel and your career as a traveling nurse in Florida.
Want to Learn More?
Now that you know how to become a travel nurse in Florida, learn more about Florida National University. The purpose of the Associate in Science, Nursing Degree program at Florida National University is to provide quality nursing education to a culturally, socially, and ethnically diverse community. The Nursing Degree program achieves this mission by preparing the graduates for employment at entry-level registered nursing positions. The program further achieves this mission by ensuring mastery of affective, cognitive, and psychomotor skills so that its graduates can become successful licensed registered nurses who can provide holistic, safe, culturally sensitive care to a wide variety of clients throughout their lifespan. Florida National University awards an Associate of Science Degree upon graduation.
If you are interested in nursing, let Florida National University answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our ASN degree program.