Linda and Brianne Ritter First BSN graduate

Registered Nurse, Will Travel

When most people think about nurses, they probably imagine pastel scrubs in hospitals or a nursing home. But there is so much more to a nursing career than one might think. Travelling nurses have been on the rise since the 1980s, and the need for highly specialized nurses in certain areas doesn't show any sign of slowing down. 

A travelling nurse is someone who holds and R.N. license and specialization with at least one year of experience at a hospital or doctor's office. These nurses usually work with agencies to find jobs that last between eight to 26 weeks, depending on the need. 

Working as a travelling nurse might seem like a stressful way to live, but most nurses receive a housing stipend and many even bring their families along, using their career to get out and see the U.S. while also gaining experience. 

Becoming a Travel Nurse

Brianne Ritter, a registered nurse and trauma specialist, has spent the last year working as a travelling nurse in Missouri. Ritter earned her associates degree from Lincoln University and her bachelor's in science in nursing from Columbia College. She is now working toward her master's as a family nurse practitioner at Maryville University.

"I began travel nursing for the experience and to broaden my knowledge." Ritter said.

And while some experience is needed before starting work, the ability to work at a number of different hospitals and offices is a great draw for many nurses. Having a wide variety of experience on your resume "is definitely a great career boost," Ritter said.

What It Takes

While there is some flexibility as to a nurses's destination and assignment length, many are sent around the nation to fill staffing gaps where a high level of experience and certification are needed. 

Ritter herself is "a Certified Emergency Nurse and I also possess every certification needed in my field which made me very marketable for Level 1 Trauma Centers," both during her assignments and for potential future employers. 

Travelling nurses also receive competitive wages, though Ritter warns that those looking into the job should know it's not for everyone, and to do their research before jumping in. 

But the flexibility to fit different roles and travel is definitely an upside for Ritter. 

"That's the beauty of nursing... there are so many opportunities to use your degree and experience," Ritter said. 

Yet whichever path a nurse ultimately decides to take, Ritter suggests they start by just giving it a go.

"Nursing takes all kinds of people in all capacities and you don't know if something is right for you until you try."

For more information on nursing certification and travelling nurse careers, visit travelnursing.org.

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