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By April 26, 2011 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Do you need experience in nursing before travel nursing?


Graduating nurseAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

Hi! I am currently a nursing student, and have a strong desire to be a travel nurse. It’s practically my calling! I am wondering if you need experience in nursing before becoming a travel nurse or if I can jump into it straight away right after college graduation.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

I’ll start by apologizing for the amount of linked pages I’m about to take you to, but in looking back at my previous postings in several writing outlets, I think these pages remain great reading for those wanting to know the requirements for becoming a travel nurse.

First, the simple answer is yes, you do need nursing experience to become a travel nurse. However, to further answer “why” this experience is necessary, I wrote the following article:

Ask a Travel Nurse: Why do travel nursing companies require a year of experience for travel nurses?

From that article, you learned that to become a traveler, the requirement has always been 1 year of recent experience in the field in which you wish to travel. However, another article talks about a recent shift in travel nursing that could make 2 years of experience the norm:

Two years of clinical experience ideal before traveling 

Finally, I touched on some preparation that you might consider while still in nursing school in the following post:

Ask a Travel Nurse: What specialty should I choose if I want to be a traveler someday?

Again, I do apologize for sending you all over the Internet, but I feel like these three articles work together to answer your question most precisely. I would also recommend reading more responses to other questions about the profession here on Travel Nursing and also sign up for a free subscription to Healthcare Traveler Magazine on their website:

Bottom line, the experience is most definitely needed. Spend nursing school gaining good experience, learning what you can, and deciding on a specialty. Once you get out, spend a little time getting your feet wet, then gain the experience you will need to travel in your chosen specialty.

There is no way to know how much experience will be the norm (to become a traveler) when you graduate, but any experience you gain prior to travel will only make you a stronger traveler.

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.

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