Nurses make up about 50% of the total healthcare force, not only in the US but all over the world. This means that more than half of the healthcare responsibility rests on their shoulders. The continuing learning process is important for nurses to stay updated with current trends in medicine and healthcare. As a nurse, it also keeps you in the learning phase, which helps you to pick up new skills as you work, and this is even more important when you are a travel nurse.
What is a Travel Nurse?
A travel nurse is a registered nurse (RN) associated with a nurse staffing agency. Such an agency is responsible for sending nurses where they are needed, for example, during nurse shortages. The concept itself was developed in the United States during the nurse shortage in the 1970s.
A typical nurse assignment duration lasts between 4 to 13 weeks. At the end of the contract, the hospital or the organization that hired them may offer them a permanent position.
How to become a travel nurse?
The qualification and expertise of a travel nurse is similar to that of a regular nurse. If you have a degree and license in nursing, you can sign up with a nurse staffing agency and travel wherever you are needed.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations now look for a nurse who has a BSN degree. The same is the case with a travel nurse. Agencies now require a nurse with a BSN to join their team. If you’re an RN holding an Associate Diploma in Nursing (ADN), consider this your opportunity to join one of the esteemed US universities offering top-notch online RN-BSN online programs. An online degree allows you to work full-time while studying for a higher degree. Once you complete your BSN, you can join an agency and work anywhere in the US or overseas.
Why is Continuing Education Important for a Travel Nurse?
Continuing education benefits all nurses, but it holds exceptional importance for travel nurses. As a travel nurse, you must earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to maintain your nursing license. CEUs are a specific number of credits you earn through completing courses or attending seminars and conferences.
The number of CEUs varies from state to state. On average, the states in the US require travel nurses to earn 10-25 CEUs every 1-3 years. Since travel nurses must move from state to state frequently, they must keep up with this. Each state has its own Board of Nursing (BON) to maintain nursing licensure rules and regulations. Usually, the nursing agency has all the relevant information regarding the CEUs.
To keep track of nursing licenses in the US, The American Nurses Credentialing Centre (ANCC) closely monitors and updates the CEUs mandatory for travel nurses to maintain their licenses.
How can you continue your education as a Travel Nurse?
Since travel nurses are always traveling, the traditional education system does not work for them. As a travel nurse, you must find innovative ways to continue your education and earn CEUs. Here are a few ways to keep up with your education while traveling.
1. Choose short courses to enhance your skills
Short courses are offered for a period of 6 to 11 months, making them particularly suitable for travel nurses who are constantly on the move and don’t stay in one location for more than a year. These courses allow nurses to select a specialization-related program, enhancing and acquiring new skills. Such certifications boost their resume and keep them up to date with the current trends in healthcare.
Short certificate courses should be board-approved by ANCC and BON to add to your CEUs. A few examples of these courses include Basic Life Support (BLS), Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC), and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).
2. Find opportunities close to you
While traveling for work, you may come across an opportunity for a short course, a seminar, or a conference to boost your knowledge. Grab such an opportunity with both hands. Not only does it improve your skills and resume, but it also adds your CEUs to help maintain your license.
When you travel abroad for work, hunt for learning opportunities in your vicinity. A learning experience in a different culture gives you a fresh perspective. It helps you boost your resume and grow in your career.
3. Enroll in online courses
Online courses are the best option for earning your CEUs as a travel nurse. Constant traveling far and wide due to work can cause a hindrance in your education. This can result in fewer CEUs and a huge workload as your license renewal date approaches.
Travel nurses can benefit greatly from online courses. ANCC-approved online nursing courses can earn you CEUs while you are working and traveling. Another advantage is that you constantly increase your CEUs over three years to avoid complications when you have to get your nursing license renewed.
4. Make use of continuing education (CE) resources
Utilizing resources can make education easier. You learn better ways to implement the knowledge you gained in your practice. There are such resources for continuing education courses that help travel nurses understand complex concepts quickly and efficiently. A few resources offer self-test quizzes that help the nurses to assess themselves.
5. Register yourself for seminars and conferences
Seminars and conferences can also contribute to nursing education. The main advantage of attending seminars is that they last 3-5 days and provide an excellent opportunity to network with other nurses.
Your nurse staffing agency is privy to all the conferences and seminars held near you. Some agencies also offer cruises to travel nurses to attend certain conferences and seminars that may help them earn their CEUs. In addition to this, such opportunities provide a way for nurses to relax while learning about a new skill or trend in their field.
Stay connected with your agency to stay updated on upcoming seminars and conferences in your area. Make sure to prioritize your schedule to attend these valuable events. Connect with fellow travel nurses and gain insights into their experiences working in similar specialties.
Continuing your education becomes a challenge when you are frequently traveling for work. Make the most of your international travel by learning new nursing skills abroad. Traveling to different places can diversify your expertise. When you continue with your education, you learn to broaden your skillset and gain a new perspective on your career.