COVID-19 has caused a shortage of nurses in areas hardest hit by the pandemic. This has caused many medical facilities, including hospitals, to turn to travel nurses to fill the gaps in their employee rosters. Some hospitals are so understaffed, they have started a bidding war, offering travel nurses a whopping $8,000 per week. Other nursing professionals have been fortunate to land positions earning up to $10,000 per week. This increased pay, and the desire to work in new and interesting environments, have led many full-time nurses to consider travel nursing when they might not have in the past.
The question is, how do you find travel nursing positions and what qualifications do you need?
Qualifications Needed for Travel Nursing
The basic requirement to become a travel nurse is to have a Registered Nurse (RN) license. Nurses that have achieved a diploma as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and those with Associate's or Bachelor’s degrees in nursing are also eligible to become travel nurses. The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) allows nurses with the necessary licensure to work in their home state and the 34 other states that participate. These include Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, just to name a few.
In addition to a nursing license, you will need to obtain the basic certifications of Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Basic Life Support (BLS), which are required for all registered nurses. For nurses who plan to specialize in a specific unit, you may want to pursue credentials in that specialty, for instance NRP for labor and delivery and postpartum care. These licenses and certifications are often maintained at your own expense. Doing your research ahead of time can help to keep your personal costs at a minimum.
Experience Required for Travel Nursing
For the most part, travel nurses are required to have at least one or two years of on-site experience. If you plan on working in a specialized unit, you may be required to spend more time bedside in one of those units before you pursue a travel nursing career.
What About Travel Nursing Taxes?
Travel nursing comes with certain tax implications, and these should not be overlooked. The IRS will require you to establish a “tax home” which means that you have to prove that you have a full-time residence when you’re not traveling and working. When filing your taxes, your basic wages are considered taxable income while extras like meals, travel reimbursements, and housing allotments are non-taxable.
If you currently lack a full-time residence, you can still pursue travel nursing, but your tax status will change to that of an itinerant worker. This means that you will need to pay taxes on all of your income, including reimbursements and stipends.
How to Find a Position as a Travel Nurse
Once you have the proper license to work in any of the 34 states contained within the NLC, do your research. Find out which facilities hire travel nurses and do what you can to learn more about the conditions that go along with working there. Many hospitals and other medical facilities have travel nursing allotments, which means they are always looking for new blood. This is good news if your search is just beginning. You never know when you’ll find the perfect match by searching online or picking up the phone and calling the facility you have your eye on.
Is the Pandemic a Good Time to Become a Travel Nurse?
Yes! Travel nurses play an important role in the battle against COVID-19. You’ll get to travel and see the world, while also making a difference. But you should know that the competition is fierce, so it helps to strike fast and early if you hope to score the ideal position. Partnering with a medical staffing agency like Prolink is the smartest move you can make.
Prolink is here to help when you want to become a travel nurse but don’t fully understand where to start. You will have access to medical recruiters who are motivated to match you with a travel nursing job that matches your skills and goals. You will gain insight on how to pass the interview and how to maintain your licensure, manage taxes, and everything else that goes with this rewarding career. Hit the ground running and start on your travel nursing career by calling to speak with a dedicated account manager. Where will you end up? With travel nursing, the possibilities are endless. Call (866)777-3704.