For the last 12 years, Camille Prevost, RN, has worked as a travel nurse. This means that she works for a company via contract which then is contracted with a health care facility. Travel nurses work as temp staff nurses, and they can work for one company or move around as needed.

“There are about 500 companies in the United States, and they vary in terms and benefits,” explains Prevost. “I have worked for five or more, and once as a freelance worker.”

Travel nurses can be contracted for anywhere from 8 to 26 weeks, depending on the facility’s staffing needs. But, she points out, most contracts last for about 13 weeks.

Prevost became a travel nurse “for the adventure aspect, traveling to different parts of the country. I like the challenge of adjusting to a new environment, including working with new people and experiencing different cultures.” As of press time, she’s working at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico.

“The greatest challenge being a travel nurse is being ‘the new kid on the block,’ with the facility’s staff. There is the ‘proving ground’ that is always part of a new job. Of course, working in health care is serious business, and you have to develop relationships that include a level of trust and your competency as a nurse,” says Prevost.

The best part of her job? Her patients. “I’m a labor/delivery nurse, so I play a very important role in supporting women during their labor and childbirth,” she says. “My greatest reward is that you are an integral part of a woman’s labor/birth experience—not to mention those magical newborns!”

If you are interested in possibly becoming a travel nurse, Prevost says that you should check the top ten travel companies in the country listed online. “Talk to other travel nurses about their experiences with the companies out there. Pay attention to housing, and make a list of priorities that will work for you. Get all the details—as far as health insurance and when it kicks in, car rental, how far of a commute to the facility etc.,” explains Prevost. “Most facilities require at least 1-2 years of experience in your current specialty. In your telephone interview, ask questions about staffing and the on-call policy for providers. Always know the facility’s protocols and policies specific to them.”

She adds that your certifications must be current. For example, basic life support, advanced care life support, neonatal resuscitation program, pediatric advanced life support must all be up-to-date, depending on the area in which you work.

Prevost gives one final suggestion: know the different computer programs for charting because you will most likely only receive a short orientation to each unit—about 3 days, and then you’ll be considered ready to work.

Michele Wojciechowski

Michele Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer and author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box.

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