Travel Nursing Advice Column - Questions and Answers about Licensure

See questions and answers travel nurse licensure here, or ask your own. Back to top

Question


I've been researching requirements for licenses. What does it mean if the temp license fee is included in the cost of the permanent? Do travel nurses recommend getting permanent licenses? Do most agencies cover the cost? Should I keep my original license renewed? My state doesnt require CEU'S to keep my license; do I need to start acquiring CEU's to be licensed in other states? About how many CEU's are needed?

Response


Unfortunately, there is no standard Responses when it comes to licensure. An effort has begun to standardize the process....the licensure compact. You may have heard of it? You have to reside and originate in one of the compact licensure states and then you can use your license like you use your drivers license from state to state. You can find out more details about that at (www.ncsbn.org).
If you do not live in a compact state.....the licensure process will be different for each state. Each state has different CEU's, cost, processing time, and temporary license expiration. A few states only offer permanent licenses. Many states do not require you to show your CEU's to get the license, but perhaps to renew it. Others such as New York require you to have classes topics such as abuse and aids etc.

It all sounds complicated and overwhelming if you try to look at the big picture all at once, but it really isn't. The first step is to decide where you want to go and then see how long it will take to obtain your license and what it requires before you commit to a start date. If you want to travel right away, often recruiters have an idea which states are easier and faster to get licensed. Some states are what they call "walk through" states where you can literally take your paperwork into the office and get licensed that day.

Licensure reimbursement is one of those negotiable benefits. Not all companies offer it. If they do, it is often a partial reimbursement and is usually paid after you begin your assignment.

Travelers often recommend getting a permanent license. Some temporary licenses do not stay active for a full 3 months. Also, you never know if you may end up liking it and want to extend your assignment or take another assignment in the same state. This way your options are open.

I would recommend you keep your home state license active for a few reasons. To maximize your tax benefits you will want to maintain a permanent residence which means you will need to return home and work occasionally to look like you still live there. Also, you never know when you will want to return home for a while to visit friends or relatives. However, if you know you won't want to return and your don't care to maintain a permanent residence then you can request that your license be put in inactive status. This way they still keep you on record and the process is easier to activate then to reapply for licensure, yet you don't have to pay for an inactive license.

Overall, licensure is a fairly simple process in most states and isn't usually an obstacle to traveling. Yet, it is good to consider the licensure requirements as far as timing your assignments and managing your commitments.

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Question


Do you know of any companies that will provide a rental car? I'm nervous about driving clear across the country by myself.

Response


Companies do not provide a rental car as a standard. However, you can negotiate for one. Often you can trade one benefit for another. Get creative....especially if they offer a benefit you don't need. Also, tell them that if they figure out how to provide a rental car for you.....you will travel with them. This will motivate them and believe me they have ways. This is a competitive business and they want you to work for them.

Note: If they give you a car allowance...make sure to call and find out what the car rentals in the area cost. One time a company provided a car for me in Alaska. They gave me a car allowance that sounded great. When I got there....I discovered that it was double that to rent a car there.

Also, you may want to consider traveling with a friend. With the travel allowance they pay.....if you travel low budget (motel 6)...you can often pay for your friends food and airline ticket back (or 1/2). The trip can be a great experience. Many people would love to go and see part of the country and then fly back.

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Question


I have been researching many traveling companies over the last four months. I can not decide which one to go with. When I feel that I have made my decision then I heard of someone who had a bad experience with that company. I feel frustrated. I looked to your company to hopefully find the highest ranking company to go with. Please give me some advice. I will be traveling with my family and I do not want to make a huge mistake and end up in a mess somewhere! How do you find the best company to go with as you FIRST!

Response


Thanks for writing. Good question. One of the reasons travelnursingcentral started ranking agencies is because of this very problem you speak of. They want to get a compilation of opinions from several people for a rating of a company. You have to take traveler's individual experiences with a grain of salt. One person may be really happy with a company and another unhappy with the same company. Most travelers claim that their recruiter makes all the difference.

My advice is to look at the ratings, pick a company that has been around for awhile, ask lots of questions and have them make the benefits clear and spelled out in the contract, and meanwhile consider how comfortable you are with that recruiter. They will be your lifeline.

The good news is that most companies that have been around awhile they are competitive with everyone else. The travel companies are very competitive. The worst that can happen is that you don't receive your paychecks or the housing is a bummer. If the housing is bad, you can demand they find different housing or you will leave. Remember they want you to be happy. You are making them money. If you leave the contract...they miss out on the money and they look bad to the hospital. Try to get direct deposit for your paychecks. Companies that don't pay..don't stay in business very long.
Pick one and go for it. You can always travel with someone else next time. This is not an exact science and each company will have its strengths and weeknesses. You have much more to gain than to lose.

You may try asking your recruiter what she feels her companies strengths and weeknesses are. Also, when you interview with the hospitals ask them how satisfied travelers seem with the company and is there a different agency they staff with that travelers seem more satisfied with.

I know the first step is a scary one, but after the first one you will have much more confidence. As a traveler, you really become your own business person. You market yourself and negotiate for what you want. It may feel that you are helpless in their hands, but they are also in yours. Without you, they won't have a business.

Go for it.......you'll be fine. If it was that bad....there wouldn't be so many people traveling. Even the people you talked to who had bad experiences are still traveling aren't they? You have to do your best to make a good decision and then make the plung.

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Question


I have been an RN for a bit better than two years, and have traveled for the past nine months (on my third assignment now). my experience is med-surg, some telemetry; also orthopedics and some others (i've worked in small hosptials where you do it all). i really want to work PACU, perhaps ER or ICU. i have the paper credentials, just no experience. i've made it clear during my interview that i'd be happy to float to these units as a "pair of hands" (just for the exposure, though i don't say it that way). so far it hasn't happened. any other suggestions for gaining this experience? i'm getting a bit burned out on med-surg. thanks! oh--great site!

Response


Unfortunately, it is difficult to get "experience" in a new department while traveling. You almost have to find a unique agency or hospital. I believe Cross Country used to advertise a cross-training program along with traveling. You may want to see if they still do anything like that. Otherwise, most hospitals want to put you to work where your strengths are. You are only there for a short period of time. The time and money to orient you to another department is difficult for them to justify. I know a nurse who recently stopped traveling to work a year in NICU so she could gain the experience she needs to travel and work in NICU.

The only other suggestion I have..... would be to discuss this upon your interview with the hospitals. You may be able to agree to work with them for a certain period of time, if they will work with you. I would try to propose this with a hospital that is known for having a ongoing need for travelers.

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Question


What countries offer international assignments to U.S. nurses?

Response


The english speaking companies tend to offer the international assignments. The most popular places are New Zealand, Australia, and London.

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Question


How plentiful are Psych Nursing assignments, and which agencies have the most Psych jobs?

Response


Psych is not as plentiful as other nursing specialties. While these positions may be more challenging....it is not impossible to travel.

Your best bet is to find a company willing to search for positions for you. Once you find a company that is willing to work with you on an individual basis you will be fine. Also, Coremedical has been known to have psych positions in the past....you may want to try them. Also, if you are interested in international travel at all....you may contact Psychiactric Care Consultants (pcc@pccnurses.com.au).
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Question


i'm finishing a current contract where i was for 26 weeks from the intial first meeting the staff trhoughout the hospital was not friendly,hostile and just downright rude....now the nurses are reporting things not done wheras they are guilty of the same thing..plus i'm guarenteed 36 hours and the next two weeks she has sligted me 12 hours each week...what should i do?

Response


I am glad you are finishing up your contract. Way to hang in there. Every once in awhile a nurse will find herself among a sea of sharks. Your proper plan of action is to contact your agency. They should have someone that is a nurse advocate for problems like this. The cut in hours will concern them as well. Unfortunately, some agencies are great at backing up their nurses and some aren't. Good luck and watch your back and dot your I's as they say.

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Question


Is traveling only for the very experienced? I work full time in an office setting but only do 1 day a week in acute care. Woulkd i be able to adapt to a travel experience?

Response


Good question. First, it is great that you are keeping your foot in the door by working once a week in the acute care setting. I am curious how long you have been doing that. Are you experienced enough to travel? Well, only you can really determine that, but here are a few pointers: Travel nurse companies usually require a minimum of one year experience in order to travel. What if you meet the requirements, but are not sure of your comfort level? The more experienced you are...the more comfortable you will be. Here is a good way to test yourself out without too much risk: sign up with a local registry in town and try working a day or two in different settings in town and see what your comfort level is like. If you really want to travel, continue to do occassional registry work in town until you are comfortable going into a new setting and being put to work right away. If you can work at a variety of places in town with comfort, you will be able to travel in comfort. Local registry gives you a chance to see what traveling would be like without the risk of uprooting yourself first.
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Question


Do you have any advice for traveling with children?

Response


Plenty of travelers take assignments with their children. Some only travel in the summer when their children are out of school, others homeschool their children. One company many travelers recommend is www.sycamoretree.com as a resource for home schooling children. I would recommend negotiating for private housing and to let your company know you will be traveling with children so they can make accomodations for you. Traveling can be whatever you make it.

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Question


What if I don't like my housing?

Response


Get out! Be firm with your company when it comes to housing. You need to be happy with where you are residing. If you feel real strongly about your housing, you can refuse to stay on that assignment unless they provide adequate housing. Many times the company has not seen the place you are staying and have to rely on advertising. A few good websites to use in finding another apartment in the area is: www.rentnet.com, www.apartments.com, and www.petplace.com (for people who have pets).

Reader comment: I just read your article on "What travel companies are the best ones"

I work in the marketing department of a travel nurse agency who has been around for 15 years, and as you said we are very competitive. We work hard to provide good benefits to our nurses and recruiters work hard to bond relationships with their travelers.

I can appreciate all the information provided to nurses, especially ones trying to research companies for the first time. I think its a helpful tool because many don't know what they are allowed to do, ask for etc.

One thing I'd like to point out, however, is that in some of these articles the nurse is empowered a little too much. Yes, we want them to be happy, yes they are making our company money, but we also have obligations and we enstow trust in the nurses we choose to work with. Your suggestion to "demand new housing or you'll leave the assignment" I don't feel is appropriate to say.

We do our very, very best to find the best possible housing for each and every assignment. Of course its impossible to see it, and yes, sometimes and housing is not the best, but may be an extremely high priced area, or the nurse may have brought a pet or had other requirements. In any case, once a nurse agrees to an assignment, our company signs a lease with the housing committing us to this housing for at least the period of the 3 months. Having a nurse demand new housing is usually not an option unless its the housing's fault, not just becuase they don't like it. We also have obligations, and we're not concerned with no making the money on the contract, but now we are responsible for the full three months lease.

A better suggestion to the nurses would be to do their own research on housing, if its a big issue to them. Once a housing place has been established, encourage them to call around themselves, talk to the landlord, call the local police station, ask about how long they have been there, what part of town its in, if its safe, etc. They are grown adults after all.

If they are not comfortable with the housing at that point voice concerns before signing the contract, and if new housing cannot be found, then they should choose not to accept the assignment at that point.

Again, don't know if this makes any difference, but being on the other end it seems like people encourage the travel nurses to do whatever they want and demand everything since its so competitive, but we are trying to do the best we can and feel there are more proper ways they can accomplish the same things.


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Question


Can you list some of the travel agencies who are known to provide adequate housing? Or can you provide a ranking system by travelers just for housing?

Response


We cannot specifically suggest one travel company over the other, but travelers can. This is why we have a ranking system on our website for travelers to rank the agencies according to their experience. Over time, we hope this will be invaluable information and improve the standards of the industry. We hope to become the largest independent site for travelers to meet and voice their opinions and share information. On the agency ranking page, you can view how each characteristic of the company is ranked in detail including housing.

Our referral service can referr you to companies that offer private housing if you would like. However, we cannot personally give out our own opinions. Besides, what better place to get that information than from other travelers on the web. We did a ranking system to get a accumulation of opinions rather than one persons opinion. You probably already have realized that many people have differing opinions about the same agency depending on who their recruiter was and what kind of experience they had with them.

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Question


I am about to start the traveling experience soon. I have experience in many different areas of the hospital, in nicu and pacu currently. what kind of assignment should i look for in traveling to keep my experience current? i like to work with neonates and adults

Response


Good to see you are versitile in your experience and thinking ahead. These two qualities will make you a great traveler. No problem. Since most assignments are only 3 months in length, you can make sure you work with each patient population throughout the year. For example, if working with neonate is your favorite or the easiest to find placement then take most of your assignments in NICU during the year. Yet, make sure one of the assignments is in PACU. Agency like to know you have at least one year experience in each of the departments you wish to work. Furthermore, they like to know you have worked in that department sometime within the year prior to the assignment so you are current on your skills. You should be just fine. However, if you wish to work in other departments, you may want to get the experience before you travel. It is difficult to gain new experience as a traveler. Since you are only at the hospital for a short period of time, they want to utilize you where your strengths are and often don't want to spend the time and money to orient you to a new specialty. Back to top

Question


I am on my first assignment and at a small hospital, contracted for 12 weeks in ICU. I am frequently floated out to a very disorganized Tele unit. At times I am starting to think my license my not be safe. I have been there 4 weeks and already have worked with a 52 years old, in good health, developed pneumonia and died. The wife is a nurse and requested an autopsy, from an "nonhospital associated" source. I feel good about the care he got the day I took care of him, but still worry about giving a deposition. If I refused to continue working at this hospital, what would the potential consequences be to me. My contract says that if I don't complete they can bill me for any expenses they incur. they did not pay any of my travel expenses and they do not provide the housing. My housing allowance if paid with my hourly pay, each week.

Response


Are you still feeling like your license may not be safe? You are in better shape than most people who feel they must leave their assignment because they aren't providing your housing. That's usually the issue is their having rented out a space for a certain amount of time that will no longer be occupied. Be sure to notify them by email or letter and explain why. This way you have some sort of documentation.

It's too bad things are turning out this way. Is there any way you could refuse to float to the tele unit? What's the worst that could happen....they would end your contract?

The best thing to do in order to know what the company is going to ask for is to tell them the situation and ask them straight out what they would want you to pay if anything? This way you know what you are facing if you decide to leave.

Please write and let me know how this turns out.


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