One of the best parts of pursuing your education as a nurse practitioner is that your skills can translate across states and even continents. There is a need for nurses and nurse practitioners around the world, and with the right credentials, you can fill that need as a travel nurse practitioner.
A travel nurse practitioner or traveling nurse practitioner is an NP who has completed his or her education and credentialing and wants to explore temporary job opportunities in varied locations. These types of temporary jobs are often known in the healthcare industry as locum tenens, which translates (roughly) to “holding a place.” Travel nurse practitioner positions may become available when a staff member is on vacation or maternity leave, or when a hospital or clinic does not have the resources to hire a permanent staff member. Travel nurse practitioners can come in to fill the role for anywhere from one day to a year or more while the employer usually covers lodging, travel expenses, car rentals, malpractice insurance, and even other benefits. The positions can take a nurse practitioner all over the United States, from coast to coast, all while offering generous compensation packages.
Other travel nurse practitioners may be looking for something a little more exotic and will choose to take positions with international non-profit organizations and work in regions that are in desperate need of nursing professionals. This is a different path of travel nursing altogether and will not be the main focus of this article.
Assessing a day in the life of a travel nurse practitioner is a tall task. That is because one of the main draws of this career path is that it is constantly changing. The patient population that a travel nurse practitioner will usually interact with will depend where she lands on a certain assignment. However, travel nurses are hired based on their previous experience, which means that those patients a travel nurse practitioner encounters will be (at least mostly) within his realm of expertise. For instance, a pediatric nurse practitioner would be placed in a position where he would work with children while a nurse practitioner with psychiatric-mental health credentials would be able to find positions with mental health patients.
However, as long as a nurse has some significant experience in one particular area, he or she may be qualified for certain travel assignments.
By a similar token, the daily procedures of any travel nurse depends on the individual assignment. Daily tasks could be anything from prescribing medications, to seeing a full load of patients to completing daily rounds at a hospital. Aspiring travel nurses should look for those positions that will allow them to do the type of work they like the most, or that they want to try.
Perhaps the biggest draw of taking on the challenge of becoming a travel nurse practitioner is the constantly changing clinical environment. In fact, this is one way that nurses who only have a year or two of experience in clinical settings can find out what type of setting they like the best. A travel nurse practitioner could be placed in a hospital emergency room, an outpatient clinic, a psychiatric hospital, or even a family practice office. Because all traveling nurse assignments are temporary, even if a clinical setting is not quite the right fit, it will change soon enough. It can also be a great way for young nurse practitioners to figure out where they want to live in the country, since they can test out a variety of new cities and settings without the commitment of buying a house or all the tasks that come along with a permanent move.
As a nurse practitioner, you must always have the proper credentials to work in the state where you choose to practice. When working as a traveling nurse practitioner, this can cause some hang-ups. Staffing agencies, as covered in the next section, will help travel nurse practitioners to obtain the licensing and credentials necessary to work in the state where they would like to travel. Some states share licensing standards and accept licenses originally granted in a different state, depending on local laws.
The most common way for travel nurse practitioners to find jobs is through temporary staffing agencies or recruiters. When looking for work as a travel nurse practitioner, it is important for the nurse practitioner to let the recruiter know both where they want to work and what their ultimate locum tenens nursing goals are. Some nurses want to find temporary positions that will eventually lead to permanent work while others are interested in traveling for the long term, trying many different cities, and do not want to take long term positions. When nurse practitioners are upfront about their ultimate goals, it can help them to find a better match.
While recruiters work for their clients, travel nurse practitioners should be aware that they also earn a commission based on how much money their nurse practitioners make. This means travel nurse practitioners should always be aware of the best choices for themselves and should not be swayed by persuasive recruiters who may not always have their best interests in mind.