How Can You Transition From Staff Nursing To Travel Nursing? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

Nursing can be one of the most fulfilling careers on the planet. 

You get the opportunity to serve and comfort people day in and day out. The pay and benefits are substantial, and you enjoy the experience of working with other colleagues, including doctors, administrative staff, and other nurses. 

Perhaps after many years working as a staff nurse, the world of travel nursing is calling your name, and you’re ready to make the transition from staff nurse to travel nurse.

If you’re wondering what’s involved in the switch and how to prepare yourself beforehand, you’ve come to the right place. In this short read, you’ll learn the basics of travel nursing, questions to ask yourself to see if you’re ready for the change, and some insider tips to help you successfully start your new career as a travel nurse.


Table of Contents



Understanding the Basics of Travel Nursing

Nursing is nursing — and in many ways, travel nursing is much like staff nursing. As both a staff nurse and travel nurse, you’ll put your nursing skills to work caring for patients, educating them and their families, and collaborating with doctors and other staff to provide the best patient care possible.

However, travel nursing differs from staff nursing in many ways and makes for a rewarding and lucrative career. If you’re considering travel nursing, you should familiarize yourself with these distinctives of travel nursing to help you decide if it’s the best career change for you:

  • Travel nurses remain in high demand in exciting locations like Hawaii, Southern California, and Florida.
  • Travel nurse salaries are usually higher than staff nurse salaries.
  • Travel nursing agencies provide benefits and perks, like stipends and bonuses.
  • Travel nursing assignments vary in length, but it’s common for travel nurses to take 13-week assignments.
  • Learning new policies and procedures at each new facility can be a challenge.
  • You’ll have to adjust to a new type of work-life balance.
  • You’ll be able to travel and see other parts of the country.

Connecting with a travel nursing agency is the first step in making your travel nursing dreams come true. At Trusted Nurse Staffing, our recruiters will lead you through the steps to becoming a travel nurse, help you find your desired assignment, and walk beside you every step of the way. 


staff nurse to travel nurse transition


4 Questions To Ask Before Transitioning From Staff Nurse To Travel Nurse

Travel nursing may not be for everyone, so before making this big move, there are some things nurses should consider before leaving their staff nurse job. Take the time to research the life and work of a travel nurse and take a self-inventory to see if travel nursing is the best journey for you. Asking yourself these four questions may help.


#1: Is the Time Right?

The life and work of a travel nurse may be attractive, but you should consider your current season of life and responsibilities to know if now is the right time to transition from a staff nurse to a travel nurse.

Ask yourself if you’re at a place in your life where travel nursing makes sense. It may be the optimal time to make the switch from staff nurse to a travel nurse if you’re: 

  • Single (though, it is possible to travel with a spouse and family).
  • Adventurous. 
  • Energized by meeting new people.
  • Keen to experience new challenges.
  • Motivated to broaden your sights and learn new nursing skills and specialties.
  • Considering a move and want to try out a new location first.

However, if you have special events at home you don’t want to miss — like a wedding or family reunion — you might want to hold off before you take your first travel nurse assignment. Or maybe you have a family with children at critical ages, and moving would disrupt their schooling or stability. In that case, travel nursing might be best reserved for a future adventure.


#2: Do You Have the Proper Licenses and Certifications?

A travel nurse needs to be an RN who has completed a nursing program and passed the NCLEX-RN exam to gain licensure.  

Travel nurses must be licensed in the state they will work. This may mean they need to get a new license in the state they’ll be working in or a multistate license through the Nurse Licensure Compact.  

Travel nurses should also be sure they have any certifications they’ll need for any particular assignment, which may include:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
  • Critical Care Nurse (CCRN)
  • Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC)
  • And more

The specific certifications needed will depend on your specialty and assignment. Our recruiters at Trusted Nurse Staffing will work to make sure you have the certifications you need or help you take the steps to obtain them.


#3: Do You Possess the Skills of a Travel Nurse?

Assess your skills and see if they line up with those of a travel nurse:

  • Flexibility
  • Professionalism
  • Adaptability
  • Reliability
  • Positive attitude
  • Excellent communication 
  • Critical thinking


#4: Are You Ready for the Changes and Challenges?

Though travel nursing can be an exciting career, it comes with some challenges you should be aware of before you commit. Because of changing locations often or working in high-stress environments, travel nurses should ask themselves these questions to see if they are ready to tackle the challenges:

  • Are you ready to meet new people?
  • Are you prepared to be away from friends and family?
  • Are you confident with your skills and abilities?
  • Are you ready to learn policies and procedures in different healthcare settings?
  • Are you prepared for life on the road — changing locations every 13 weeks, not being in your own home, or getting familiar with a new city and community?


staff nurse to travel nurse


8 Staff Nurse To Travel Nurse Transitioning Tips

You’ve done some research about travel nursing, assessed your skills and abilities, and now you’re ready to make the switch. Take a look at these eight tips to help make the transition as smooth and restful as possible.


#1: Evaluate Your Experience and Specialties

Think about the experience you already have and any nursing specialties you’ve practiced. These can help you choose the best assignments suited to your gifts and experience. 

For example, let’s say you’ve been working for a year or more in a hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. You’ve gained valuable skills, performed various procedures, and obtained necessary patient experience. Because of these, you may be well suited to work as a pediatric CVICU nurse, as long as you’ve earned any other certifications that might be necessary.


#2: Connect With Other Travel Nurses

Make the transition smoother by getting advice from some travel nurses who have “been there, done that.” 

What worked for them? What special tips can they pass along? What mistakes have they made that you can avoid?

You can connect with other travel nurses by:


#3: Consider Being a PRN Nurse While Working as a Travel Nurse

Pro Re Nata (PRN) nurses are licensed nurses who work on call. If possible, keeping your staff nurse job as a PRN nurse may provide work in case a travel nurse position isn’t available or when you’re between nursing assignments.


#4: Start With a Local Assignment

Not sure how you’ll do far away from home and what’s familiar? Consider taking an assignment nearby to give it a try before choosing an assignment that’s far away.

Local travel nursing makes it possible for you to experience the perks of travel nursing while also:

  • Staying close to friends and family
  • Avoiding obtaining new licenses
  • Reducing stress
  • Gaining valuable experience


transitioning from staff nurse to travel nurse


#5: Choose the Location

Choosing which state to work in is something nurses should consider because of the licensure and certification requirements that may be necessary.

If nurses obtain a multistate license through the Nurse Licensure Compact, they can practice nursing in 41 states without getting an additional license, including states like:

  • Washington
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • And many more

Click here to see a complete list of NLC states.


#6: Think About Finances

Staff nurses may receive salary or hourly pay. Travel nurses will need to discuss pay with their travel nurse agency to understand how much they’ll be paid and how often.

Other financial considerations a travel nurse should research include:

  • Bonuses
  • Stipends
  • Insurance benefits
  • Special tax considerations

Understanding taxes and knowing how to prepare and file them correctly can be an added stressor to an already high-stress job. 

For example, if you work as a travel nurse for 39 weeks out of the year, what state would be your “tax home”? What deductions can you take? Do you need to file quarterly taxes?

When it comes to taxes, an accountant would be the best resource to rely on for accurate information. Travel nurse agencies can help, too.

Trusted Nurse Staffing provides the support and information necessary to make sure their nurses are fully informed about their salaries and benefits packages and exactly what they can expect to receive. To get started with Trusted Nurse Staffing, search Pronto for jobs in your preferred area.


staff nurse to travel nurse transition


#7: Create a Support System

No matter how adventuresome and independent you are, you still need people around you to help when things get tough, to provide support, and to give encouragement. 

Friends or family back home can be a part of that support system for nurses. Stay connected by scheduling a FaceTime call each week with your parents. Or take a walk at the same time every week with a friend back home and catch up over the phone while you’re getting your steps in.

Additionally, travel nurse agencies can provide much-needed support. 

When you choose Trusted Nurse Staffing, you can be sure of receiving the assistance you need from a dedicated support team, including:

  • Regular and open communication
  • Payroll support
  • Assignment advocacy
  • And more


#8: Choose a Professional and Reputable Travel Nurse Agency

Working with a travel nursing agency is the best way to find the travel nurse job you’re looking for. Quality agencies have positive relationships with healthcare facilities and valuable experience under their belts to not only find jobs for their nurses but also support them every step of the way.

When researching agencies, list them side by side and compare what they offer, and their reviews and ratings. Some details you want to pay attention to may include offerings like:

  • Housing stipends
  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Insurance
  • Bonuses
  • Ease in communication
  • Assignment opportunities
  • 401(k)
  • CEU and license reimbursements
  • And more

When you connect with a travel nurse agency, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Before choosing an agency, you want to make sure you have all the details you need to know that they are the best fit for you and will help you reach your career dreams.


staff nurse to travel nurse transitioning tips


Trusted Nurse Staffing: Helping You Get To Work as a Travel Nurse and Supporting You Every Step of the Way

When you research potential travel nurse agencies, Trusted Nurse Staffing should be at the top of the list. 

Not only do we provide the best job opportunities for our travel nurses, but we are committed to empowering and supporting our team members with benefits and perks like those listed above.

One of the most exciting benefits we offer is student loan assistance after you’ve been on board with Trusted Nurse Staffing for 90 days. We understand the financial investment nurses make to start their careers, and that’s why we are happy to provide tax-free student loan reimbursements of up to $5,250 each year.

Transitioning from staff nurse to travel nurse can be complex and challenging. With the Trusted Nurse Staffing team by your side, you’ll be able to navigate the path with ease and confidence. Let us help you start your new travel nurse career by helping you find your dream assignment today.


staff nurse to travel nurse transition