By August 3, 2011 2 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Do I have enough experience to be a travel nurse?


travel nurse with a question about experience

Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

I have one year current NICU Level II experience. I do have previous experience 8 months rotating labor and couplet care ( mother/baby) and a previous 6 months NICU. I ventured away from nicu to try labor only to realize nicu was were I wanted to be. From your experience do you feel with one year current nicu that I have enough experience to begin travel nursing.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

Thanks for your question. While I personally feel that you would do okay in starting to travel, the big question is how will the hospitals feel.

Most travel companies are asking for two years experience now days, but that is driven by the facilities asking for the cream of the crop as far as travelers. However, you work in a specialized field and one that will be in dem and . While a facility might want two years, they might also just be desperate to get some able bodies in the door. At that point, they would take a look at all your experience and might give you a look.

Work your first assignment with a good reputable company (I have contacts at many of the companies I recommend if you like). Once they find you a hospital willing to take a look, hit on all your strengths during the hospital interview. Do NOT elaborate or exaggerate your experience level, but do sell yourself with the things you feel you do well.

While I feel that there would be a company that could probably find you an assignment, they (the travel companies) will be better able to tell you if they feel they can place you. Start by choosing a few companies you’d like to travel with and speak with a recruiter at those companies (again, if you like, I do have contacts at the one’s where I refer many travelers).

I hope this helps.


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.

2 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: Do I have enough experience to be a travel nurse?"

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  1. Syed


    I have been an L & D nurse for 2 years at a hospital that although is a level 3 nicu, does not bring in much experience as to the variety of patients. The load is basically routine and day to day the same. I am looking to be a traveler to experience whats out there etc etc. I am bringing my family. My biggest concern is my experience. Although I say I have 2 years experience it may not be as well rounded as a hospital would hope. And although I am a fast learner… I am somewhat intimidated. What are your thoughts???

  2. David says:

    Hey Syed. I would say that if you want to learn anything new, you are going to have to push past your comfort zone.

    Now you can go about doing this in several ways. One would be to hire on at another facility and the other would be to accept a travel assignment.

    Hiring on at another facility with higher acuity would be the safest way, but sometimes you must have a little risk to gain a greater reward.

    Another facility would train you and would likely pair you with a mentor that would walk you through new procedures or taking care of higher acuity patients. Again, this is the absolute safest way to accomplish things if you are someone who questions whether or not you would be able to handle a travel assignment.

    However, if a challenge is something that allows you to thrive, push through it, and learn from it, then I feel a travel assignment could also be a safe environment to increase your skills.

    I tell people to be very honest with their recruiters and the facilities about their skill level. You can certainly highlight the skills you do possess, but do not embellish.

    In the interview with the hospital, tell the nurse manager (or the person conducting the interview), what your background is and the type of patients for whom you typically care. Then, ask their honest opinion whether or not you would be a good fit for their unit. They are not likely going to want to hire someone they feel will be in over their head. But if they feel it might be within your skill set, then it is a consideration.

    Without personally knowing someone, I can’t tell you whether or not I think you would do well on the road. That is an assessment you must make on your own.

    Again, it depends on the type of person you are when faced with challenge. Are you able to push through it or do you tend to freeze and regress to the point where it would be unsafe to place you in that situation?

    Most nurses encounter a horrible shift every now and then. How did you come out of it? Were you a stronger nurse because of the experience or are you left saying, “I don’t ever want to be in that situation again”?

    Mentioning that you are a fast learner leads me to believe that you might be okay, but again, you sort of have to know yourself and your own comfort zone.

    I hope this helps with your decision 🙂


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