Traveling Nurse: Job Duties, Responsibilities and Requirements
A traveling nurse is a healthcare professional who assists chronically-ill or homebound patients, or helps medical facilities with staffing shortages. Along with the many duties associated with nursing, individuals employed in this occupation must also travel from location to location, including patients’ homes. Some traveling nurses move between hospitals, clinics and schools. Education prerequisites for this job vary, though a basic requirement is a nursing license. Voluntary certifications are also available.
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Duties for Traveling Nurses
Traveling nurses have a wide array of duties to perform, such as administering medication and preparing nutritionally-specific meals. Many nurses who travel to different locations also teach family members and caretakers about proper patient and medical care. Additional responsibilities for traveling nurses might include follow-up procedures after surgery or administering physical therapy.
Traveling Nurse Responsibilities
Caring for patients who cannot leave their homes, traveling nurses administer medical care and monitor patients’ needs. Some school districts employ traveling nurses as a cost-cutting measure to administer medication to specific students. A traveling nurse can work independently, or for a health services organization.
Requirements for Traveling Nurses
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the education requirements vary for individuals employed as traveling nurses (www.bls.gov ). Most employers prefer to hire candidates who are licensed practical (LPN) or registered nurses (RN). An LPN must have a high school diploma and a certificate from a nursing training program that has been approved by an official government agency. To become an RN, individuals will have to earn a diploma, associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. A limited number of practicing traveling nurses will have graduate education in physical rehabilitation or gerontology.
Various local jurisdictions and employers have different certification and licensure standards for traveling nurses. To complete certification as an LPN or RN, candidates must demonstrate professional competency through an examination process, known as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Certification for nurses is administered by state agencies responsible for governing health occupations.
Additional professional certification for home healthcare workers (who aren’t necessarily nurses) is offered by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), which requires membership fees and an entrance test. The NAHC also require candidates to finish 75 hours of specialized coursework focusing on home healthcare.
Salary Information and Career Outlook
The BLS projects that the field of registered nurses will increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022, while the employment of licensed practical and vocational nurses will increase by 25% during the same decade. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for registered nurses was $66,220 in May 2013; the same year, licensed practical and vocational nurses earned a median of $41,920 a year.
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