The main difference is in terms of employment: A travel nurse accepts work on a temporary, contractual basis, traveling to a destination based on need. Instead of devoting their time to one hospital where they may work for years, travel nurses move around. Their assignments generally last 13 weeks but can depend on a variety of factors, including organization, need and the details of their contract.
Travel nurses often work with travel nursing agencies to find new assignments, work out travel and housing reimbursement, and handle the logistics that make travel nursing possible. Through these agencies, nurses correspond with travel nurse recruiters, who act as liaisons between nurses and healthcare facilities.
How does the process work? Here’s a basic rundown:
1. A healthcare facility reaches out to a number of travel nurse agencies to fill a nurse role, usually for a certain specialty.
2. Acting on behalf of the travel nurse agency, the travel nurse recruiter reaches out to nurses who fulfill the requirements of the role.
3. The nurses who are on file with the agency review the role, the pay, the time requirement, the location and related details.
4. If a nurse accepts the role, they can sign a contract with the facility and work with the agency to arrange travel and other logistics.
Since several nurses may be contacted about a single opportunity, these positions generally fill up on a first-come, first-served basis. For those willing to jump on the opportunity, however, this can place them in a new position quickly. They will have to meet the certification and licensure requirements of the state in which they choose to work before starting the role.