Considerations for Travel Nursing: An Update

Interview by Jodie Elrod
Interview by Jodie Elrod
In this feature interview, we get an update on travel nursing considerations from Kim Windsor, Vice President of Clinical Services and Quality Services at AMN Healthcare, the nation’s largest healthcare staffing and workforce solutions company. AMN Healthcare places thousands of travel nurses each year. Tell us about AMN Healthcare’s travel nursing staffing program. The keystone to AMN’s business, we have six nurse staffing brands: American Mobile Healthcare, Medical Express, Nurses Rx, NurseChoice, O’Grady Peyton International and Nursefinders. Each recruits to a slightly different nursing demographic:
• American Mobile and Medical Express are our standard travel nurse brands for those seeking career advancement, experience, lifestyle choices and travel options. • Nurses Rx is for mature and experienced travel nurses. • NurseChoice is for the more experienced travel nurse who has had previous travel experience. This brand also places nurses with computerized charting experience and are familiar with electronic medical charting conversions. • O’Grady Peyton International places nurses outside of the United States as well as places those from other countries in assignments within the US. Nurses are typically fluent in English and have an average of seven years in an acute care facility. We provide all immigration, license preparation and relocation as well as cultural acclimation. • Nursefinders, recently acquired through our acquisition of Medfinders, provides the standard hospital, clinic, and surgery center placement options, but also offers nursing homes and in-home care placement.
What locations are available to travel to? We offer assignments in all 50 states, from major cities to rural communities. The facilities are primarily hospital settings, and the size can range from very large teaching hospitals to small community healthcare facilities. What specialties (including in the field of cardiology) are available? The facilities we work with have needs in just about every specialty, including ER, NICU, ICU, OR, PCU, ambulatory OR and PACU, Dialysis, Oncology, Cath Lab, CVICU, Pediatric Home Health and BMT. How long are typical assignments? Typical assignments range from 8 to 13 weeks; however, shorter or longer assignments can be customized to the nurse’s (or the facility’s) needs. After an assignment is over, the travel nurse often has the option to extend their assignment there or go on to another location. What types of hours do nurses typically work? Travel nurses work typical nursing shifts of which there are three per day. Most work 40 hours or less a week unless other arrangements are made by the client or at the request of the travel nurse. What are some of the challenges that are often faced during travel nursing jobs? The biggest challenge is often adapting to new surroundings, both within the healthcare facility and within the community, figuring out where to shop, finding your way around, etc. Several travel nurse companies provide their placements with points of interest, transportation information, etc. Who is the ideal candidate for travel nursing? Nurses with flexibility, a positive outlook, excellent clinical skills and an eagerness to enjoy a new adventure make ideal candidates for travel nursing. You need to be open to change and a quick learner. Good communication skills are also important in this field. Travel nursing is best suited to those who enjoy diversity in their work and feel stimulated by constantly expanding their knowledge and exploring new ways of doing things. Each new assignment provides an opportunity to boost their career by working alongside seasoned professionals and utilizing state-of-the-art techniques. A travel nurse position is also great for anyone wanting to visit a particular area (or areas) of the country or for any nurse thinking about moving to another area, but wanting to check it out first. Some even consider travel nursing if they have family members in other parts of the country and would like to spend time near them while still earning a living. Also, what factors should a nurse take into consideration before going into travel nursing? There are minimum experience requirements depending on areas of specialty, the facility, the unit and sometimes even the location. The majority request a minimum of 18 months of experience. For some specialties such as med-surg, psych and rehab, the minimum experience can be as high as two years; and for LPN/LVN the minimum is typically six years. Lifestyle is also important. As mentioned earlier, this type of work is best suited for those who have a sense of adventure, like to learn new things in new environments, meet people and explore new surroundings. Tell us about the costs associated with work in travel nursing. Costs to the traveler are typically minimal, but every company is different. My advice is to have a potential traveler talk to a recruiter and then compare companies to see which offers the best benefits with the least out-of-pocket expenses to the traveler. Most travelers will need to pay for their food, clothing and entertainment. We do not charge a fee to become a travel nurse with AMN. Would you say there has been an increase or decrease in travel nursing in recent years? Why? Travel nursing was impacted by the economic downturn, but orders are now increasing. Current industry estimates are that the nursing shortage will range from 260,000 to one million by 2025, depending upon the source you cite. This will only increase the need for travel nurses. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Travel nursing provides a tremendous opportunity to fall in love with nursing all over again. Whether your purpose is to build a resume, see the world, experience best practice environments or to fulfill personal goals, the experiences gleaned from being a travel nurse are an irreplaceable adventure.