travel nurse

Nursing Specialties for the Travel Bug Nurse

The nursing profession is incredibly extensive today thanks to the progress of modern healthcare. Nurses now have a plethora of opportunities to choose from so that they can find roles that suit them better professionally and personally. These roles can eventually contribute to job satisfaction and allow nurses to have a more fulfilling career.

Different nursing specialties can accommodate different passions and interests, some of them being entirely non-medical. For instance, a nurse with creative passions can thrive as a consultant for medical show productions. Similarly, a nurse with a passion for travelling doesn’t necessarily have to stay dependent on paid time off (PTO) policies to fulfil their travel aspirations. There are several nursing roles that facilitate travelling. Some of them are:

Travel Nurse

Travel nurses are hired by hospitals on a contractual basis for a certain duration at a time. They act as additional staff in cases of impromptu staff shortages caused by sudden surges in patient admission. These nurses can help alleviate the work pressure on permanent staff. Travel nurses with specialties are also required when specific medical scenarios arise that require greater expertise to navigate.

A travel nursing assignment can last from 4 to 26 weeks. The average is usually around 12 weeks and can be extended if need arises. Travel nurses can be assigned to hospitals within the same state or in other states. They can also be assigned positions in different countries, depending on their agency and individual preference.

A travel nursing job can allow greater flexibility in scheduling as nurses have a choice between taking breaks or taking up another assignment immediately. They can also receive amenities such as accommodation allowances from their agency or the hospital that hired them. These benefits are especially useful when living in places with higher accommodation rates.

Travel nurses also have the advantage of testing out work environments without committing which can help them decide if they want to spend more time working in a particular hospital or perhaps even take up a permanent position.

Travel nurses however need to plan well in advance as practicing licenses and laws differ from place to place. The paperwork can be a lengthy process so, you must do your research beforehand and be prepared for opportunities at a short notice.

How to become a travel nurse

To become a travel nurse, you must have experience as a registered nurse for a year or two, in addition to you NCLEX-RN license. You may also need a BSN degree along with your ADN. In case of specializations, you may also need advanced degree certifications.

You should also have the relevant licenses and certification needed to practice in the places you’re assigned.

Once you meet the criteria, you can find a staffing agency and apply according to your preferences.

Job growth and salary

The pandemic intensified the consequences of nurse shortages across the US. Hospitals had to deal with staffing issues at really short notice. Therefore, travel nurses became the best available alternative to hiring permanent staff.

The demand for travel nurses surged by 35% in 2020 and by 40% in 2021. Barton Healthcare Staffing cites the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, noting a 6.2% rise in the demand for travel nurses in the oncoming decade.

Travel nursing became a lucrative career path for nurses during COVID-19. In the course of the pandemic, the average salary for travel nurses was significantly more than permanent nurses. HealthAffairs notes that while staff nurses earned $1,400 a week, prior to the pandemic, travel nurses could earn anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000.

Cruise Ship Nurse

Cruise ship nurses are employed by cruise lines to care for both passengers and crew. They are often required to work alongside a team of other medical professionals hired by the company. These nurses may be required to treat an array of illnesses ranging from simple seasickness to patients in critical care.

As cruise ship nurses are often required to ensure patient well-being with access to very limited amenities, preferences are often given to specializations like ICU and emergency care. Although, most cruise ships today do come equipped with pharmacies, pathology labs, critical care units and even x-ray facilities.

Cruise ship nurses often do not have the exhausting schedules that usual RNs do. If they are not on call, they may be required to work day or night shifts every few days depending on clinic hours. Nurses on cruise ships can also be required to maintain pharmaceutical inventory and prescribe medication.

They must also administer primary aid in case of injuries and must prepare medical reports for port authorities if a patient was required to be transferred to a healthcare facility on land.

Cruise ship nurses have the advantage of not having to pay for accommodation, meals and transport. These benefits can certainly add up to saving a sizeable chunk of your income. Most cruise lines also allow their nurses to deboard at ports and explore, given they are not on call or have clinic duty. In addition to a lesser workload, cruise ship nurses get to experience different cities, cultures and cuisines.

How to become a cruise ship nurse

Cruise ship nurses must have an NCLEX-RN license. They also need to have two to three years of experience in acute care. ADN and BSN degrees are also preferred. An MSN or PhD can also give you an upper hand.

Most cruise lines also hire nurses with Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Basis Life Support (BLS) certifications. As cruise ship nurses often need to prescribe medications, a nurse practitioner can also be given greater preference over a RN.

Alongside medical expertise, cruise ship nurses must also be aware of maritime law and safety regulations. They might also need to speak at least one foreign language.

Overseas cruise ship nurses must also have a valid work visa.

Job growth and salary

While there is no statistical data available on job growth for cruise ship nurses, the job growth for RNs is fairly high, at 6%. Nurse practitioners, meanwhile, are looking at a 40% employment growth rate according to NurseJournal.

Incredible Health notes that the average annual salary for cruise ship nurses is around $80,290.

Over to you

Nursing specialties that require you to travel can be fulfilling on the personal front as it opens doors to new unconventional experiences. In addition, you also get to interact with a lot of non-medical professionals and learn about new people and places. These nursing roles can be the gateway to your travelling dreams without you having to waste a pretty penny!

References

  1. https://www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/covid-19-s-impact-nursing-shortages-rise-travel-nurses-and-price-gouging
  2. https://www.bartonhealthcarestaffing.com/blog/2023-travel-nurse-salary-outlook/
  3. https://nursejournal.org/careers/cruise-ship-nurse/
  4. https://www.incrediblehealth.com/blog/cruise-ship-nurse/
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