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By January 14, 2013 1 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Do I have enough experience?


travel nurse holding question mark flagAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

Hi I’m a ER RN with 1 1/2 years at one  institution. I would like to know if this is enough experience to take on 3 month travel assignment. Or would you suggest working on staff at another institution for another year before accepting a travel assignment.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

Generally speaking, many of the travel companies are currently looking for two years of experience in the specialty in which you wish to travel. This is not due to a m and ate from the travel companies, but their response to what they are seeing in regard to requirements from the facilities.

While there are certainly still opportunities for those with at least a year of experience, it has become more difficult for those with less experience to find their first travel contract. In addition, some hospitals will even specify “no first-time travelers”, which adds just one more hurdle for those starting out in the industry.

You are certainly welcome to join a few travel companies and see if they are able to place you, but generally speaking, I think you will fare much better once you hit that two year mark.

As for working on staff at another institution, I do not feel that this is necessary unless you will gain a broader experience in working at another facility. For example, if you are working in a level three emergency department, then taking a job in a larger level one trauma center might very well help you when it comes time to look for that first assignment. But I do not feel that you need to take a job in another institution simply to show the ability to be able to work at multiple places.

If you do wish to give it a try, then you can certainly e-mail me at  and I can set you up with some great recruiters at the companies that I use and trust. However, if you decide to gain a little more experience before you travel, work on obtaining any additional certifications or qualifications that you can in the specialty of ER. For example, while not required by most institutions in the ED, ACLS and or PALS, will always look nice on a resume and will certainly work to your advantage in getting you into some of the higher acuity ER’s.


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: Do I have enough experience?"

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  1. Darryl


    This is great information! It is so important to know what an employer expects when applying to a travel rn job. My sister is a travel nurse and she had 4 years L&D experience before starting to travel. She loves it!

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