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By September 21, 2012 1 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Where do I start to begin travel nursing?


traits of a great travel nurseAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

Hi David! I am about to be a new RN… fresh out of school by April.

I’ve been working as a UNE in a hospital and have various clinical experience. I’m just wondering how to get involved in international travel nursing. Which companies are reputable and which should be avoided? What can a new grad do to get a foot into travel nursing? I find there is a lot of info, though not all of it is helpful. I’m admittedly a little lost as to where to even start! Please help!

Thanks so much.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

First let’s concentrate on where you should be focusing your energy the first year or two.

Many travel companies require at least a year of experience (in the specialty in which you wish to travel), prior to taking a travel assignment. Now days, there are companies that require two years of experience in response to what the facilities are currently seeking in the way of qualified travel nurses. Regardless of how many years experience may be required, the fact remains; you need experience before you can travel.

Your first year of nursing is the time when you establish yourself as a nurse and begin to form your identity in your practice. Out on the road is NOT the place to be honing your skills. When you are a traveler, you are expected to already be a proficient clinician. Because of this, you will want to be very skilled in things like IV starts, Foley and NG insertions, and any other “technical” tasks you will use. You will also want to have good assessment skills and be able to prioritize patient concerns.

To be a travel nurse, you must be very independent in your practice. Most facilities will be receptive and welcoming, but occasionally you might feel like you were thrown into the lion’s den. It is during these times that you will need a strong knowledge, and technical base from which to pull. You will also need to gain experience in the specialty in which you wish to travel. There is little to no opportunity to cross-train when you are on the road.

Once you have established your practice and feel comfortable branching out, I would actually recommend taking an assignment here in the states first.This will do a few things. It will give you an idea of what it is like to go into unfamiliar surroundings and be expected to hit the ground running, and it will allow you to remove the label, “first-time traveler” when you search for an international assignment.

There are not nearly as many companies that do international travel, so bad or good, you might not have much of a choice. O’Grady Peyton is by far the most well known and a few others are , ,  and

I hope this helps and good luck in your adventures.


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: Where do I start to begin travel nursing?"

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  1. Great information David. My friend is a nurse and wants to be a Travel Nurse but she is waiting for 2 to 3 years of experience to become more comfortable and make sure this is exactly what she wants to do (travel). Thanks for sharing!

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