See the world and help those in need
Want to explore the world while helping people in need? A career as a travel nurse could be a great option, especially since there is now a global shortage of nurses.
A report by the International Council of Nurses found that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the immediate need for nurses in many countries and “will further increase the demand over the next few years”.
Howard Catton, CEO of the council and co-author of the January 2022 report, said Newsweek: “There are currently 6 million nurse shortages and a potential shortage of up to 12 million nurses over the next decade.”
The report found that “many nurses are migrating from low-income countries to more prosperous countries, where they can earn higher salaries and gain broader experience,” it added.
The flip side of this development is that low-income countries “are the most vulnerable to the exodus of nurses and the most likely to be negatively affected by the pandemic,” Catton said, so the council calls for “ a massive investment in the sustainability of the nursing workforce”. ” and global action on it.
If the globetrotting life of a travel nurse sounds appealing, read on for expert advice on how to become one.
What is a travel nurse and what does she do?
Travel nurses work in locations other than where they were trained. This can include American nurses who work in another state, as well as those who go abroad. They are usually hired on short-term contracts, but some nurses migrate to another country on a long-term basis.
According to Katie Boston-Leary, a former travel nurse who is director of nursing programs at the American Nurses Association, contracts for travel nurses are often made between employers in the destination and health care agencies based home.
“Travel nurses are expected to be experienced — not novices — so they can provide care safely and effectively with minimal orientation and limited onboarding,” she said. Newsweek.
Stable work for traveling nurses can be “unpredictable and based on the length of contracts or the geographic location of available contracts”, she added. Those in the United States tend to work for many agencies at once to increase their opportunities.
The job of a travel nurse will depend on their medical specialty. The RegisteredNursing.org website explains that in addition to the usual responsibilities, the daily tasks performed by nurses abroad may include:
- Emergency medical services and care
- Educate family members and caregivers on appropriate care
- Respond to natural disasters or epidemics
- Provide medical care and assistance to underserved, rural and remote populations.
Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Nurse
“Nurses who choose to work abroad benefit from expanding their experience of nursing and living in a different culture. They often return to their home country with new or improved skills,” Catton said. .
As with any job, there are downsides as well as upsides. Here are a few, according to All Nursing Schools, RegisteredNursing.org, and Nurse Journal:
- Expanded medical experience through exposure to technology and facilities from different countries
- Allowances for housing, food and other living expenses
- Potential to earn a higher salary than you would as a caregiver nurse
- Opportunity to travel and live an experience in a foreign country
- Opportunity to help underserved communities
- Opportunity to improve language and communication skills.
- Potential hazards of working in high-risk areas and exposure to disease and other health risks
- Not receiving the same benefits as full-time nurses, such as paid time off
- Spending long periods away from family
- Feeling of isolation caused by frequent moves
- Lack of long-term relationships with colleagues and patients.
How to become a travel nurse
Since international nursing jobs are usually obtained through agencies in a nurse’s home country, Americans in this field will need a Registered Nurse (RN) license.
Other agency requirements for their nurses may vary. Boston-Leary said: “You must have an active license and temporary licenses may be obtained based on location. Nurses may be placed based on demand, specialty, experience and willingness. to move temporarily if necessary.”
Agencies will have “required skills training and orientation”. Once this step is completed, they will provide clients with “nursing profiles to determine the best fit”, she added.
Before you can become a registered nurse, you must earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Most agencies prefer a bachelor’s degree, according to Nurse Journal, and some health care facilities only hire bachelor’s degree holders.
Travel nurses also need certifications in basic life support and advanced cardiac life support. Other certifications may be useful for assignments in specialized fields, Nurse Journal said.
Agencies generally require travel nurses to have at least one year of practical experience in their specialty, according to RegisteredNursing.org.
After you graduate from nursing, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination to obtain a registered nurse license. This examination, which can last up to six hours, covers:
- Nursing practice, conditions and treatments
- How the healthcare system works
- Legal and ethical issues
- Communication and patient education.
You will also need to meet the requirements of the countries in which you intend to work. Traveling nurses should familiarize themselves with the specific laws and illnesses in each location.
There are also immigration requirements, such as work visas, sponsorship, and vaccinations, which vary by country. Work visas are usually arranged by the nursing agency.
The ability to communicate with patients is vital. According to All Nursing Schools, it is not uncommon for an agency to send a nurse to a country whose language they are not fluent in. But travel nurses will need to have at least a working knowledge of the language.
In some countries, you must take a language test before or after your arrival. This applies to English-speaking countries, including Canada, the UK and Australia, and the test may be compulsory even if English is your first language.
Catton said, “Once nurses have their nursing registration recognized by a country’s nursing regulatory body, they are legally licensed to practice in that country.”
How much does a travel nurse earn?
Nurses’ salaries “vary widely” by country, Catton said.
In the United States, traveling nurses are hired for a specific period and paid at a higher rate than “directly hired or tenured nurses,” Boston-Leary said. Some employers also offer benefits and housing.
“Compensation varies based on demand, specialty, geographic location, experience, etc.,” she added. According to the 2022 INS National Health Care and RN Staffing Reportorganizations pay agencies an hourly rate of between $154 and $225 per nurse — and nurses are paid on a percentage basis, she said.
According to jobs website Indeed, travel nurses who work overseas can earn around $109,000 a year, but it also points out that salaries can vary widely.
RegisteredNursing.org suggests that the average salary for a travel nurse working in the United States is around $75,000, although some agencies offer up to $100,000 as demand is high.
“Nurses traveling internationally tend to have lower salaries than at home, except for postings to some Middle Eastern countries,” he says.
A nurse working in the Middle East is unlikely to pay taxes on her earnings, all nursing schools explained, so this should be taken into account.
According to data from the World Atlas, outside of the United States and Canada, nurses earn the most money in Europe, with these countries offering the highest salaries:
- The Netherlands
Even if your salary isn’t at the top of the scale for a travel nurse, most agencies offer benefits such as housing and stipends for meals and extra travel. Some also offer medical, dental and vision insurance, paid time off, license reimbursement as well as end-of-assignment bonuses, according to All Nursing Schools.