Traveling As A Nurse Practitioner
As the primary care provider shortage continues to rise, there is a growing need for traveling nurse practitioners.
Travel nurse practitioners are also called locum tenens providers. This means they are filling a temporary need. This can be for a variety of reasons: maternity leave coverage, assisting with patient overflow, or filling a recent retiree position while full-time recruiting is underway. Some hospitals or clinics will even hire travel nurse practitioners for vacation coverage and sick leave. Others may hire on a locums to perm basis. This means the facility wants to test out the provider before hiring them permanently.
Being a travel nurse practitioner is like hitting the jackpot. With housing and travel costs covered, you basically get to explore new places for free. You also get paid more than working as a permanent employee. You constantly have something to look forward to since you are living somewhere new every few months. The flexibility is great since you don’t have to work holidays and can take as much time off as you want.
Another plus is you are constantly learning and will become more competent working in different clinical settings. When you are ready to settle down as a full-time employee, your resume will certainly stand out!
Here’s a quick guide to becoming a traveling nurse practitioner.
It’s a myth you need to be experienced to become a traveling nurse practitioner. That said, it can be easier to find an assignment with at least 3 years of experience. There is so much demand for nurse practitioners employers are much more willing to take new graduates than they are for other positions.
Working as a travel NP as a new graduate is definitely do-able, but be sure to ask about the orientation process. Most employers will accept a new graduate as long as they make a relatively long commitment (at least 6 months).
To work in various states, you have to obtain both the RN and ARNP licenses for that state. Some states may also have a third license you will need to apply for in order to prescribe medications. It is also necessary to register your DEA certificate with the state you plan on working in for the ability to prescribe controlled substances.
Depending on the state, the licensing process can take 2 weeks to 6 months long. Many states offer temporary licenses, which allow you to start working while your permanent license is being processed.
The types of assignments vary as a travel nurse practitioner. You can work inpatient as a hospitalist, in the Emergency Room, in the ICU, etc. You can also work outpatient in community health centers, occupational health, urgent care, emergency rooms, school health, doctor’s offices, pediatric clinics, Indian health services, Air force bases, home health etc. Working in federal health care sites such as military bases or Indian health services allow you to use any state license.
In order to find an assignment, you will need to get in touch with a few agencies and establish a relationship with a recruiter. Normally I will tell my recruiter where I want to go and when, what type of facility I want to work in, and how much I expect to be paid. He/she will then use that information to provide me with a list of job options. I recommend establishing relationships with multiple agencies to increase your job options.
After being provided with a list of job options, I will choose which job I am interested in, and my recruiter will then submit my resume to the employer. If they like what they see, they will usually request a phone interview within the next few days. After the phone interview, the employer will generally make an offer within 24 hours.
Upon accepting an assignment, you will need to sign a contract dictating the terms of the assignment. Then credentialing is started. This involves a lot of paperwork and providing copies of all licenses and certifications. The process for this can take as long as 1 day up to 3 months but will vary depending on the employer.
Why I Love Being A Travel Nurse Practitioner
For me, being a travel NP has been incredible! There is always a new adventure coming along and it is a great way to avoid burnout working in medicine. I enjoy traveling to different places and learning while working in diverse clinical settings. I would recommend this experience to anyone looking for an exciting, lucrative career.