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By March 6, 2014 1 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: How should I handle getting state licenses as a new Traveler?

Ask a Travel Nurse: How should I handle getting state licenses as a new Traveler?

Ask a Travel Nurse: How should I handle getting state licenses as a new Traveler?

Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

I am preparing to find my first travel job and have found that many of the jobs in the states we want to go request that you have your license in hand before applying. My recruiters have even suggested getting these state licenses (before I even know if I will get the job) so that I meet the qualifications for applying.

Some states have walk-thru options, and I’ve resorted to looking for openings in those states first. I unfortunately do not live in a compact state. I guess this roadblock is surprising to me and I am not sure if I should just get licenses in states I know I will eventually want to go or just keep looking? Any advice regarding licenses?

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

I would personally not go to the expense of obtaining multiple licenses ahead of time — although some agencies will reimburse you these costs, so if you can afford them upfront that’s one possibility.

Otherwise, try to maybe narrow your choice to two states (one with a walk-thru option and one where you know you will eventually land). Then you could primarily focus your efforts on the state in which you already paid for the license, but keep the “walk-thru state” as a backup option.

Since I’m a “location” traveler, I simply know where I want to go next and am willing to wait for an assignment in that location. But after you have been doing this awhile, you will also accumulate many different state licenses that are pretty easy to renew even if you let them lapse.

Some companies will reimburse for licenses and offer other benefits that will help you get licensed. This is often based on experience, specialty, and likelihood of taking an assignment with the company. You should ask your recruiter if the agency offers any help in this regard.


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.

1 Comment on "Ask a Travel Nurse: How should I handle getting state licenses as a new Traveler?"

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  1. Trudy Hooks


    I also am hoping to be a travel nurse for the first time this coming year. I have a brother and sister in Santa Cruz, CA and thought it would be a great place to live for a while and also have the comfort of family nearby. I applied for my license on Dec.12,2013 and hoped that when I returned from a 3 week trip to Costa Rica in January that I would find my license in the mailbox. It’s March 10th today and still no word from the board. My recruiter has been in touch with that department and the word is that it won’t be in until April! Maybe! It’s too late for me this year to go. I wanted to get out of here for the cold season and return in the spring. Maybe next year. The Ca board of Nursing is by reputation the absolute worst in the nation in terms of processing your application. Lesson learned; do it ASAP.

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