By March 17, 2010 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Just how early do I need to start worrying about licensure?

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a future travel nurse worrying about state licensureA recent email from one of my travel companies on the new requirements for the California Board of Nursing prompts this week’s post on licensure. 

I received an email that stated that California’s Board of Nursing now requires fingerprinting for all new applicants or renewals. To be honest, I thought that when I first applied for my CA license I had to submit fingerprints. Regardless, it brings up the point about taking into consideration the board of nursing in any state in which you wish to accept a travel assignment.

When I am on assignment, unless I plan to extend, I typically look for my next job about a month or a month and a half prior to the end of my contract. This usually allows me enough time to scope out the location I am seeking and see if there are enough assignments in the area from which to choose. If so, my next call is to the board of nursing.

Processing times for licenses vary drastically by state. While one state can take only a few weeks, some states may require a month or more to process your application (and that’s if all your paperwork is in order without any missing documents). If you know that you will be traveling to a new state (one in which you know you will need to apply for an endorsement), you might even check with the board of nursing before speaking with your recruiter. If you are looking at an assignment starting in a few weeks and that particular board takes three to four weeks on average to process their applications, you could have a problem.

You also want to be sure that you visit the board’s website and CAREFULLY read the requirements for licensure. If something is unclear, CALL the board and speak with an operator, even if it is only to verify the information posted on the website.

If your recruiter at your travel company has been working in the industry for any length of time, they should also be a good source of information since they hear all the horror stories about nursing boards from their travelers. However, no matter how seasoned your recruiter is, don’t rely solely on the information they provide about any particular board of nursing. You should always visit the board’s website, and most times talk to someone at the board, when applying for a new state endorsement.

Remember that some states will fall under compact licensure and some states are walkthrough states (where you can obtain a license the same day, but must visit the board in person). Whatever system a board uses, or whatever their requirements, always make sure that state licensure is an early consideration when looking into any travel assignment.

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About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

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