Is Travel Nursing the Right Move for New Grad Nurses?

is travel nursing right for new grad nurses? By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor

New grad nurses have some exciting news when it comes to their career choices. 

Changes in the nursing job market and hiring practices now make it possible for RNs to find new grad nursing jobs across the country as travel nurses--with much less experience than what was previously required. 

That means new grad nurses don’t have to wait long to get on the road to adventure, where they can enjoy free housing and other benefits along with many opportunities for professional and personal growth.

But is travel nursing right for you? The following information and tips for new grad nurses can help ensure you make the right decision.

New Grad Nursing Jobs & Travel Nursing 

Some hospitals are now offering new grad nursing jobs for travel nurses with less than a year of experience, explained Robin Ordover, recruitment manager with Onward Healthcare, an AMN Healthcare company. 

Previously, most healthcare facilities required travel nurses to have at least 18-24 months of acute care experience before being able apply for an assignment. 

“There are a few hospitals now that are opening doors to nurses who are ‘early in career,’ meaning less than a year experience, and a lot of different specialties, too,” Ordover said. 

“We started to initiate these new grad nursing jobs within the last year. We are bringing ‘early in career’ nurses into travel nursing and having different hospitals support it.”

Onward’s Early in Career Program for new grad nurses offers specialized career guidance and placement assistance from Onward recruiters, longer orientations for traveling nurses, mentorship from experienced staff nurses, 24/7 support from clinical liaisons and more.

Career Tips for New Grad Nurses 

Ordover works with many new grad nurses and with other healthcare professionals who previously worked in other capacities (i.e., paramedic, EMT, LPN) and have recently obtained their RN license. She said that travel nursing is a great career choice for both new graduate RNs and those on their second careers. 

Among her tips for new grad nurses who want to travel:

  • Get experience in an acute-care setting. “Even if you have to move to another state, it’s important that you get into an acute-care setting, preferably in a hospital. Build continuity in one area,” Ordover suggested.
  • Be willing to float to gain versatile skills. “If you are med-surg, for example, get well-rounded and get more skills by floating to all types of med-surg units. Once you are comfortable there, try and branch into telemetry as well.”
  • Get important certifications for your new grad nursing job, such as BLS, ACLS, and others. This shows potential employers that you are proactive and want to provide the very best in patient care.
  • Start talking to a recruiter, and apply early.

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What Traits Make for a Good Travel Nurse?

Although strong clinical skills and a good bedside manner are the foundation for all new grad nurses, Ordover said that there are a few personality traits she thinks all travel nurses should share--whether they are recent graduates or seasoned professionals:

  • Flexibility
  • An open mind
  • Team-orientation
  • Willing to go the extra mile
  • Passion for nursing and patients
  • Eager to learn new skills and grow
  • Able to jump right in at a new job

Finding New Grad Nursing Jobs

Whether your specialty focus is med-surg, ER, ICU, telemetry or something else, landing a new nursing job when you are fresh out of school can be a challenging and competitive process. 

Ordover’s top tips for new grad nurses looking for their first (or next) nursing job are to remain persistent and flexible. If there is an opening at a top hospital that is not your first choice for specialty, consider taking it. There may be opportunities to move units or float to other floors down the line. 

Gaining clinical experience is the name of the game. 

The same goes for your first travel nursing contract. Be flexible about your assignment choices, especially as a recent RN graduate. The employers who work with Onward’s new grad nurses are willing to provide extra training, mentoring and support that can build your skills and steer your nursing career in the right direction.

Then, once you have completed your first travel contract successfully, employers will be even more likely to consider your future applications.

“Now is the best time to go for it in travel nursing -- just get out and venture out,” Ordover said. 

“It’s wonderful to be able to go and see different locations and learn and grow, and you are still getting paid for it! You get to meet so many people and do so many things--both personally and professionally.”

“There is no other profession other than travel nursing that allows you to do this. It’s amazing,” she concluded. “Travel nursing is a great opportunity for new grads because they are passionate and ready to learn. I love working with new grads; they are wonderful.” 

RELATED: 5 Reasons New Grad Nurses Should Consider Travel Nursing

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