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How to Prepare for Travel Nursing While Still in School

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If you are a nursing student who loves seeing new cities AND states, starting a travel nursing career is the perfect fit. However, the road to becoming a travel nurse is long. 

You must graduate from nursing school, pass the NCLEX, and work as a hospital or clinic nurse before becoming eligible for a job that allows you to travel. Do not worry, though—here are tips to help your travel plans run as smoothly as possible.

Choose a program that awards a BSN

You can become a nurse if you have an Associate’s Degree or an AD. However, if you want to be a travel nurse, you must opt for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN degree. Travel nursing in California and other highly competitive areas is full of people who have a BSN.

Magnet Hospitals and similarly credentialed places make their nurses get a BSN degree, and nearly all traveling nurses have one. These days, it is hard to stand out if you have an AD.

Take your studies seriously

It will be challenging for you to complete a program in healthcare if you do not like studying. Learn as much as you can, pass your classes, and reach out for help when you need it. Form a study group or consult with a teacher. Your instructors will have been in your position before, so they would do what they can to help.

 Make the most of your clinicals

At this stage, you are one step closer to launching into your travel nursing career. Take your clinicals as a chance to evaluate the different rotations and determine where you want to stay. The clearer your goals, the more relaxed you will be about moving from one career stage to another.

Your clinical training is also a great place to practice speaking with supervisors and other persons in authority. As a travel nurse, you will regularly meet new people, and interpersonal skills are a must.

Get a feel for your “ideal” workplace

Nursing school is the best place to get granular about your preferences at work. Do you enjoy working long hospital hours, or in a clinic? Do you prefer pediatrics or adult care? Answering these early on will help you stay the course.

Travel nurses need two years’ work experience in the hospital setting. If you switch units, your time starts over—for example, if you have 15 months in the NICU and nine months in ER, that does not translate into two years. 

However, remember that it is entirely fine to switch specialties. Though it would delay your plans, restarting your work history in a unit that you like is better than sticking it out someplace you don’t just because you started with it. 

Work in a Unit That Will Help You Become a Travel Nurse

Travel nurses need experience handling different cases. To earn this, you must aspire for a level III or IV center. These places have people who require the most urgent or critical care, and they will train you to respond promptly and stabilize a wide variety of situations. Nurses working in level II care can still become a travel nurse, but they cannot work in levels III or IV hospitals.


Getting into a hospital unit that challenges you is the best preparation for becoming a travel nurse. If you are currently in nursing school, you must chart your path to help you reach your travel goals as early as possible.

For more insights about travel nursing, join Travel Nursing Direct. We are your travel nursing FAQ, and we bring you all the answers you need to have a successful career in this field. Join our community today, and learn more!

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Travel Nurses TEACH Their Young

Our community of Pre-Nursing, Current RNs, Travel RNs and Post Graduate Nurses is here to help share their knowledge and experience with you. Learn about Travel Nursing, Find an assignment, or Figure it YOUR next step:

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