Your next assignment starts here. Search jobs now!
By April 29, 2013 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: First Time Traveler, Am I Ready?


Young woman with clockAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

I am interested in becoming a first time traveler and will have a little over 18 months experience when I am looking to start. I have been working on a neurology/neurosurgery floor and am interested in traveling in this specialty; however, it doesn’t seem like this is a popular choice. Do you think I am very limited to this specialty or know which companies have more choices for neurology?

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

While I do not believe that working on a neurology floor is out of the question, it would be one more factor that may make it difficult in finding your first assignment. While there are certainly still many opportunities that enable nurses to enter the profession of travel nursing, finding your first travel assignment is a lot harder today than when I started.

The first thing that I noticed is that you mentioned that you will have 18 months of experience when you are looking to start. Many of the travel companies have currently gone to requiring two years of experience before embarking on a career in travel nursing. You must underst and that the only reason they are doing so is because the hospitals are now looking for more experienced nurses. Will you still find travel companies that will take you on board with only a year or 18 months of experience? Sure, but when it comes time to actually secure that first assignment, many travelers report never hearing back from their company with opportunities.

To be honest, I’m not really sure why an agency would do this. But, I have heard from quite a few travelers, with less than two years of experience, that join an agency and have the recruiter tell them that it shouldn’t be a problem finding them an assignment and then never have it materialize. With some hospitals now even specifying “no first-time travelers”, it has become enough of a challenge for recruiters to place those nurses having a full two years of experience.

I’m sorry if I’m bursting any bubbles here, but my responsibility is to try to ensure that you have a good first experience with travel nursing and do not get frustrated with some company that promises what they cannot deliver.

However, you might also be able to use the additional six months to cross train in another area that might help you greatly in your travels. Again, working on a neurology floor is not at all out of the question. However, it may limit your assignments once you start traveling. Depending on what type of patients you are currently seeing on your floor, I would tend to market myself in a more general fashion. For example, if your patients are telemetry monitored, then I would seek out a tele assignment with a neuro focus. If you do not do telemetry, then I would seek out med-surg assignments with a neuro focus. However, right now the best thing that you could do would be to gain some experience on a regular tele or med-surg floor that does not have such a specific focus and would allow you to care for a greater variety of patients.

I do not know of any companies that cater to a certain specialty. That is not to say that there aren’t any, it’s just that every travel company with which I am familiar has travel assignments for a variety of specialties.

I’m sorry if this puts travel further in the future for you, but again, I want you to have the best experience possible.

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.

Post a Comment