5 Pathways to Advance Your Career as a Travel Nurse 

travel nurse

5 Pathways to Advance Your Career as a Travel Nurse 

Becoming a traveling nurse is an exciting and dynamic career choice. Traveling nurses, also known as travel nurses or agency nurses, are healthcare professionals who work on short-term assignments in various healthcare facilities. This unique career path offers a multitude of benefits and opportunities for those with a passion for both nursing and adventure.

Additionally, the flexibility, competitive compensation, and diverse clinical experiences make it an enticing career choice. Beyond these immediate perks, the field of travel nursing also offers numerous pathways for career advancement and personal growth.

In this blog, we will cover 5 different pathways that traveling nurses can think about when considering the next steps for their career because travel nursing isn’t just about moving from one location to another. It is also about progressing in your profession. So let’s dive in and look at the key career paths that you may want to consider after fulfilling your travel goals. II. 

#1: Become a Veteran Travel Nurse

Accumulating clinical experience is the cornerstone of becoming a seasoned veteran nurse. The more years you dedicate to your role as a staff nurse, the more valuable expertise you gain. This experience equips you with a deep understanding of patient care, various medical conditions, and the intricacies of healthcare settings. It’s the kind of knowledge that only time and practice can provide.

Many healthcare facilities have tiered systems of nursing staff, often denoted as RN I, RN II, and RN III, among others. These designations signify increasing levels of experience and expertise. Achieving higher ranks signifies your growing competence as a nurse and can open the door to various opportunities.

Beyond the traditional career progression, accumulating years as a staff nurse can lead to more specialized roles within your facility. You might become a “super user” for specific medical devices, a nurse responsible for training and assisting other staff in utilizing these technologies. Additionally, you could find yourself orienting new nurses and sharing your valuable knowledge and expertise. 

Lastly, there is always the option to step outside your comfort zone as a travel nurse and seek out contracts in more rural areas or vice versa, this can help you to curate a new skill set that will only help you as you grow professionally.

As you advance in your nursing career, you may even have the chance to become a charge nurse, assuming leadership responsibilities on the floor, and more. The possibilities are endless when you’ve got the experience to back it up.

#2: Pursue Advanced Nursing Certifications

Pursuing advanced certifications is a crucial pathway for any ambitious travel nurse. These certifications not only enhance your clinical skills but also make you a more desirable candidate for high-demand assignments. They showcase your dedication to ongoing professional development and your commitment to delivering exceptional patient care.

There are various certifications available to traveling nurses that can boost their credentials and career prospects. Some examples include Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), and Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN), among others. These certifications not only broaden your skill set but also often lead to increased earning potential in some facilities.

The process of obtaining and maintaining certifications can vary, but most require a combination of study, practice, and successful completion of an examination. Some employers may sponsor or reimburse you for the cost of certification, and may also allow you to earn these certifications while on the job. It’s essential to stay current by renewing certifications as needed to ensure they remain a valuable asset in your career toolkit.

#3: Explore Other Nursing Specialties as a Travel Nurse

As a traveling nurse, you have the unique opportunity to delve into various nursing specialties, broadening your skill set and enhancing your career prospects. Consider pursuing positions in specialties like the emergency room, critical care unit, catheterization lab, interventional radiology, or the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). Each new specialty assignment provides you with fresh challenges, experiences, and the chance to become an expert in multiple areas of nursing.

#4: Explore Nursing Leadership Opportunities

Traveling nurses can also venture into leadership roles that extend beyond the bedside. These roles may include nursing management, where you oversee nursing staff and hospital operations, or becoming a nurse educator where you will share your knowledge with new generations of nurses. Additionally, some traveling nurses opt for roles in general hospital administration, influencing the overall direction and quality of healthcare delivery.

To step into leadership positions, it’s crucial to develop strong leadership and communication skills. Consider taking leadership courses, seeking mentorship from experienced leaders, and being proactive in taking on additional responsibilities during your assignments. The ability to adapt and lead under various circumstances is highly valued in healthcare settings.

#5: Seek Out Advanced Practice Roles

Travel nurses who are interested in advanced practice roles have numerous educational options available. You can consider pursuing a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Master of Science Nursing (MSN) in specialized areas such as nurse anesthesia, nursing research, nursing leadership, management, acute care, and more. Online and part-time programs make it feasible to continue your education while working on assignments.

Furthermore, obtaining advanced education and certifications can lead to higher-paying positions within healthcare. Advanced practice roles often come with increased responsibilities, but they also offer financial rewards, professional growth, and a deeper understanding of specialized areas within nursing.

Start Thinking About Your Career Path Today

Traveling nursing is a dynamic profession with multiple avenues for career advancement. The five pathways we’ve explored—accumulating clinical experience, pursuing advanced certifications, exploring other specialties, seeking leadership opportunities, and seeking advanced practice roles—are all viable options to help you shape a fulfilling and prosperous career in this field.

We encourage you to explore these pathways to advance your career, find what resonates with your aspirations, and take the next steps to make your journey as a traveling nurse truly extraordinary. If you are looking to continue your journey as a travel nurse, start your search for your next contract with the Novo Connections career portal. Our recruiters are readily available for any of your needs.