Different Types of Travel Nursing Assignments

Job Seeker

By Sarah Wengert

When you’re exploring the idea of travel nursing or even just starting out as a traveler, there’s so much to learn! The best guide is often finding a recruiter you can trust at a company with great benefits that takes care of its travelers every step of the way. But even if you’ve found that, learning what you need to know about the world of travel healthcare can still feel pretty overwhelming at first.  

One good starting point is to learn that there are many different types of travel nursing assignments, as well as travel assignments for allied health professionals. This knowledge will help you navigate what these differences can mean for your career and how different healthcare travel assignments can present opportunities for you.

So, let’s take a look at some of the different types of travel nursing assignments!

Specialties Differ Between Travel Nursing Assignments

This is one of the most basic differences between travel nursing assignments but it’s still important to note. Just as specialties are present in any healthcare setting, each travel nursing job posting requests a certain nurse specialty to best fit the facility’s needs. That’s true whether it’s for emergency room, ICU, NICU, med-surg, labor and delivery, pediatrics, dialysis, operating room, CVOR, oncology, or another nurse specialty. Most nurses already have experience and work in the specialty they want to be in, however some will choose to gain education and experience in another specialty as well. Whatever the specialty or specialties you’re qualified in, that will determine what travel nurse assignments are a good match for you.  

Various Lengths of Travel Nursing Assignments

The vast majority of travel nursing assignments are 13 weeks long. However, assignments can be any length and the duration is something you’ll know before accepting a job. A few other common travel nurse assignment lengths are 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 16 weeks, and sometimes 32 weeks. After a successful assignment, if the traveler and facility agree on it, there can also be an contract extension.   

Various Shifts of Travel Nursing Assignments

Just as in any facility, there are different shifts, and this is true in travel nursing too. Whether it’s how many hours per week, nights, days, or evenings, every assignment comes with its unique shift specifications.Like assignment length, you’ll almost always see the shift type in the travel nurse assignment job posting

Travel Nursing Assignment Scope

So, length is one thing, but what about scope? Most jobs are set up for the more typical 13-week travel nurse assignment where you travel 50 miles or more from home. But there are also PRN travel nurse assignments. Nurses already know the term from medications, but “PRN” basically means as needed. The term comes from the Latin “pro re nata” which literally translates to “as the need arises.” PRN nursing assignments can range from daily, on-call assignments to week-long assignments (for example, covering an employee on leave), or you might have a week without working any shifts. PRN can be a great fit for nurses who want maximum schedule flexibility and may not want full-time work. On the other hand, some full-time nurses may also take on additional work via PRN opportunities.    

Additionally, some travelers (and facilities) like to use travel nurse assignments as a bridge to take things perm if both parties agree. This gives travelers and facilities alike the chance to sort of audition each other and then make it official if it’s a long-term fit. Many travel nurses also like this possibility because they can try out a location before making a permanent move there.    

Reason for the Travel Nursing Assignment

There are many different reasons why a facility hires travel nurses. The most common reason is generally due to a staffing shortage that’s somewhat longstanding. In this scenario, staffing levels might be dependably low and the facility brings travelers in to help over a longer-term basis.

On the other hand, a facility may bring travelers in to help more briefly while their perm staff trains for a week or two on a new software or charting system. Some facilities, for example in Arizona or Florida, may have an influx of older folks who like to winter somewhere warmer. As a result, the community has a higher need for healthcare and more patients to treat, which causes a need for higher staffing levels at local facilities. Similarly, flu outbreaks, COVID-19 outbreaks, natural disasters, or even nursing strikes, are a few other reasons a facility may need to hire travel nurses.    

Types of Facility/Capacity for Assignment

Generally, the most common type of capacity and facility for travel nursing assignments is in an acute-care hospital. However, there are many other types of facilities and/or capacities. For example, long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, urgent care and other clinics, vaccine clinics, and others may need to enlist travel nurses and travel allied health professionals to maintain safe staffing levels.     As you can see, there are many different types of travel nursing assignments. But that’s good news for those working in travel healthcare because it only gives you more options and flexibility as you build you career. Ready to find your perfect travel nurse or travel allied healthcare job? Search travel nursing assignments now

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