Combine Your Love for Travel with a Nursing Career: Becoming a Travel Nurse Practitioner

One of the main benefits of becoming a nurse practitioner is that your skills are applicable everywhere. There is an increasing demand for nurse practitioners around the world and if you are a nurse who loves traveling, you will love the opportunities this affords you. You could choose to follow the travel nurse practitioner path and travel the different states, or even countries, providing healthcare to patients who need it most. Below you will find some tips on how you can combine your love of traveling with a nursing career so you get to do two things you love at the same time.

Travel Nurse Practitioner: An Overview

A travel nurse practitioner is a nurse practitioner who has completed their education and has their accreditations and certifications but who provides healthcare in different locations. In many of these locations, nurse practitioners are employed on a temporary or contractual basis, usually when a staff member leaves temporarily. They might also get hired when a facility does not have the financial resources to make a permanent hire. 

A major advantage of being a travel nurse, besides being able to travel all over the United States, is that most employers offer generous compensation in addition to catering for travel expenses, lodging, insurance, and any other benefits as agreed upon.

A few travel nurses also work for non-profit organizations, so they are able to practice all over the world or just to experience different exotic destinations while working.

Types of Assignments

Due to the nature of their jobs, travel nurse practitioners can work in a variety of settings. They can be contracted to work in hospitals, the emergency room, private clinic, the ICU, and in many other types of settings. Additionally, travel nurse practitioners are able to bring healthcare services to remote and often neglected regions that need healthcare. 

When working in these settings, you will be able to not only bring healthcare closer to the people who need it, but also help address the primary care doctor shortages in many of these places. This is actually one of the main effects of different types of nurse practitioners on the healthcare system. There are other benefits nurse practitioners provide to the healthcare system. Click here to read an in-depth article from Texas Woman’s University to learn what they are.

Nurse practitioners are trained to operate independently and can perform many of the functions we often associate with primary care doctors. Becoming a travel nurse allows you this independence and gives you a chance to keep practicing, all while helping you satisfy your wanderlust bug.

Some things that travel nurses and other types of nurse practitioners are responsible for include conducting medical tests, creating patient treatment plans, and prescribing medications depending on the certifications they hold and the states they are working in.

Finding Work

Because travel nurses may be looking to work in specific regions, cities, towns, or states, their job search is a little different from that of other nurses. Most travel nurses find work through recruiters or staffing agencies. Apart from the locations they would like to work in, nurses who want to follow this path must tell their agents or recruiters what their goals are. Some nurses may be looking for temporary positions, while some may be looking for positions that lead to long-term positions.

If you decide this is the right career path for you and are looking for a recruiter, ensure you do a bit of research yourself. Much like travel agents, many recruiters and agents also get paid a commission that is a percentage of the nurse’s salary. This means these agents and recruiters might only be looking out for themselves.


It is possible to become a travel nurse with little experience. However, having around 3 years of experience can increase your chances considerably. Some nurses practice in local settings for a few years before changing their career paths. Remember that having no experience is not necessarily a dealbreaker because there is so much demand for nurse practitioners and an increasing shortage of primary care physicians.

If you are a new graduate, some employers might require that you sign a longer contract (usually 6 months) so ensure you ask about this and read the fine print before you sign any contracts.


A travel nurse practitioner is still a nurse so they need to qualify to work in the state they wish to work in. In addition to your academic and other qualifications, you might be required to be a registered nurse and have your ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner) license for the state you wish to work in. 

To prescribe medication, some states might require that you get a separate license. To prescribe controlled substances, you need to register with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) in the state you will be working in.

This whole process might take 2 weeks to 6 months but some states issue temporary licenses so you can start working as soon as you apply.

A Gateway to a Permanent Position

Even though you love traveling, you might need to slow down as your nursing career progresses. Being a travel nurse practitioner first lets you see different cities and towns that you can choose to settle in. 

Additionally, since travel nurses can work in a variety of settings, being one can help you decide which clinical setting works best for you. So, by the time you decide you want to find a permanent position, you will know where you want to live as well as which clinical settings you work best in. This way, you can plan your career as well as where you would like to live without the stress of buying a house or making a permanent move. This is a major advantage in terms of job satisfaction over nurses who do not start their careers like this.

Becoming a nurse is a very fulfilling choice to make, but if you love traveling, you can combine both of these passions for an even better career path. Travel nurses work anywhere they want, in a variety of settings, and get the opportunity to see different places before they settle into a permanent position if they so wish.