This is a question that our healthcare recruiters get all the time from new and aspiring travelers. The requirement for experience is different per facility but is typically around 1-2 years. The amount of experience required depends on each facility, specialty, and other factors. But if you are looking to get started in travel nursing there is a lot more to it than that.
Experience requirements or necessities for travel nurses
There is no industry-wide time requirement. With that being said the industry standard is at least 1-2 years of recent, in-hospital, or in-facility experience to be hired as a travel healthcare professional. Each facility and/or unit may require more experience, but if any additional experience is needed it is usually specified on the job posting. This is also the kind of information that your recruiter will share with you before you apply for a travel healthcare position.
Why do you need past experience to work as a travel nurse?
You may be thinking to yourself “I worked my tail off in nursing school, did clinical rotations, passed the NCLEX with flying colors, and can land a permanent nursing job, why can’t I be a traveler without experience?”. That’s a fair question! But there are several good reasons why, and it ultimately comes down to protecting you, facilities, and patients.
Travel healthcare professionals are expected to hit the ground running when they arrive to their new assignment. Orientation periods are often short, and there’s a lot of information to learn when you start at your new facility/hospital, meeting your colleagues, understanding the hierarchy, learning their protocol, navigating a new charting system, all this while also having to find your way around a new facility! To provide excellent patient care from the first day while also finding your way around a new facility, your clinical skills must be road-tested and rocks solid.
When it comes to you, travel nurse experience requirements are there to help protect your license, pad your resume, and help facilitate a successful travel nursing experience. You really don’t want to have a negative first experience, overstress yourself, or let your patient care suffer because you rushed into a travel healthcare position. For hospitals and facilities, experience requirements help reassure them that their travelers (you) will be able to reliably provide great care from the first day you arrive at their facility. Travel nursing experience requirements ensure better patient health outcomes and better overall patient care.
While it seems like a pain to have to wait to gain experience before you can become a travel healthcare professional, it’s all for good reasons, and in the end, only benefits you. The best thing you can do is be patient and practice your skills, the time will come soon enough! Now would be the best time for you to study the travel nursing industry and prepare! Research and explore travel nursing benefits and join some of our social media platforms so you can learn the ins and outs of our industry in the meantime!
How many years does it take to become a travel nurse?
If you include nursing school, it should take approximately 3-6 years to become a travel RN. If you’re already a practicing nurse with the commonly required 1-2 years of in-hospital experience, then good news: you can start looking for your first placement and become a travel healthcare professional in no time!
Final thoughts on travel nurse experience requirements
After reading this you should be able to see that it’s not beneficial for you or anyone else to start your travel healthcare career without the required experience. But regardless of if you’re currently in a nursing school or already started working your first permanent job to gain the necessary experience, it’s never too early to search for jobs to get a feel for what kind of assignments are currently available. You can also contact one of our professional healthcare recruiters, they can help you better understand what type of assignments and locations you would like to pursue. This way once you have the experience you will be ready to hit the ground running when your perfect travel assignment comes!