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7 Ways to Continue Professional Development as a Travel Nurse

April 15, 2014

Travel nurses work in many of the country’s most prestigious hospitals surrounded by the best and brightest health care professionals. While this alone offers many opportunities for fostering a diverse and highly sought after skill set, options also abound for a travel nurse to continue professional development outside of the clinical setting.

1. Seek Out Continuing Education

Just because you have your degree doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. In fact, most nurses are required to take classes and coursework which keeps them up-to-date regarding the latest advancements in the field. Today’s continuing education and certification opportunities don’t just to take place in a classroom. Online courses and webinars offer the chance for travel nurses to learn and grow in their careers from any location. Companies, like traveling nurse industry leader Fastaff, offer free continuing education as part of comprehensive benefits packages.

2. Attend Conferences

Conferences are a great chance to gain critical nursing continuing education credits while also networking with peers about relevant developments in the field. Offered by professional nursing organizations like hospitals and nursing specialization boards, these conferences take place throughout the year and can range in length from a single day to week-long gatherings. Participating in online forums for nurses and health care professionals, meanwhile, offers an informal setting for information exchange and support.

3. Join Up

From learning about the latest clinical developments and career opportunities to building a network of peers who not only represent professional connections but also friendship and support; there are a multitude of reasons to join a professional nursing organization, such as the American Nurses Association, the National League for Nursing and the Association for Nursing Professional Development, in addition to local and specialty chapters. Membership can vastly enhance your job prospects, performance and quality of life as a travel nurse.

4. Read Up

Nursing journals, such as The American Journal of Nursing, The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, and American Nurse Today, can be an essential resource for nurses seeking to develop their own careers while also providing optimal care for their patients. Whether you want to stay informed about the latest technological developments in your area of specialization or expand your understanding of best practices and rising trends, nursing journals offer a wide breadth and depth of information. Most of these resources are available on line for easy mobile access.

5. Publish and Prosper

When you have familiarized yourself with nursing journals, consider writing an article. You may not make your fortune, but you just might make a name for yourself. While we commonly think of nurse educators and administrators as the authors of journal material, plenty of opportunities also exist for staff nurses. From writing about noteworthy cases to innovations in the workplace, travel nurses can expand their professional horizons -- and resumes -- by converting experience into published articles.

6. Prepare to Lead

Tenured travel nurses can gain critical leadership skills and experience by communicating with supervisors about their goals for career advancement. On an informal level, be willing to serve as a mentor to new or less experienced colleagues. In sharing your advice and insights, you develop mentoring skills while also improving the experience of someone following in your path.

7. Volunteer

Volunteering can be a major boost for travel nurses -- both personally and professionally. Not only does it foster personal and professional growth, but it also provides the opportunity to engage with your community outside of the hospital or facility where you are working. Whether you teach CPR at the local community center or lead your local professional nursing chapter, the benefits and rewards are worth the effort. In fact, many nursing administrators seek out volunteering experience on a resume.

Travel nursing offers an exciting and challenging career path. By balancing skills learned in the classroom and on the job with professional development opportunities, you not only make yourself a desirable employee, but a contributing part of the nursing and comprehensive health care industry.

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