The History of Travel Nursing

November 21, 2014

Why are there travel nurses? Find out how this exciting career path for nurses first started.

Working as a travel nurse is a rewarding career path for any nurse looking to expand their skills and gain valuable experience in different parts of the county. It only existed as an employment option for nurses starting a few decades ago.

How It All Started

Travel nursing offered a bold solution to staff shortages that began to plague hospitals and clinics nationwide in the 1980s. This idea first took root in New Orleans in 1978 when contract nurses were brought into the city to deal with an influx of patients during Mardi Gras. Travel nursing positions have continued to be widely available since the end of the 1980s.

Hiring nurses for short-term assignments became a cost effective method for healthcare facilities to deal with staff shortages. For some nurses, it offered a lucrative way to hone their skills and acquire experience in the industry.

The Appeal of Travel Nursing

Travel nurses are becoming more of a fixture in the 21st Century. The Internet, mobile phones and other technological advances make it easy to work anywhere you want to work as a nurse without going through the hassle of setting up new phone numbers, bank accounts and other necessities.

All travel nurses work on short-term assignments. Many assignments last only 4-13 weeks. Some assignments can be extended up to a year – or even longer if the nurse accepts a full-time position at a healthcare facility.

Compensation rates for travel nurses typically vary based on specialty and experience. Average pay ranges from $30 to $50 per hour and can be higher in some places. Other benefits, such as free or subsidized housing, are included in compensation packages.

Travel nursing is appealing to some nurses because it offers a chance to work and live in many different cities and get to know many different people. A travel nurse can request to work in specific geographic locations when applying for an assignment. If they prefer warm weather climates, for example, they could work somewhere like California or Florida.

Future of Travel Nursing

Opportunities for travel nursing are not likely to slow down any time in the near future. Healthcare facilities face as many shortages as they did in the 1980s when travel nursing positions first opened up on a wide scale. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 1 million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2016 and that the nursing shortage could increase to include 500,000 positions nationwide by 2025.

Starting on the path to becoming a travel nurse doesn't carry many requirements. You should have at least two years of experience working in your specialty. You need good professional references. You also should be flexible in assignments and travel destinations. All 50 states regularly issue provisional licenses for traveling nurses, so finding a ready supply of jobs is not at all difficult. Learn more about travel nursing from Fastaff Travel Nursing.