How to Become an International Travel Nurse

European ambulance driving away in the night

Travel nursing provides opportunities to experience diverse clinical settings, explore new locations, and earn competitive salaries. When speaking of travel nursing, many nurses think of domestic travel nursing, working within the United States moving from one state to another. Conversely, there’s international travel nursing and opportunities to work abroad in various countries.

Becoming an international travel nurse is a rewarding and exciting career path that offers the opportunity to combine nursing with exploration, cultural immersion and professional growth. International travel nurses work in various healthcare settings around the world, helping to fill critical staffing gaps and gaining valuable experiences. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to become an international travel nurse:

Male and female nurse in scrubs walking down hospital hallway

Acquire the Necessary Education, Experience and Licensing

To embark on a career as an international travel nurse, you need to start with a strong educational foundation. Most countries and healthcare facilities prefer candidates with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Ensure that your nursing program is accredited by the appropriate nursing board in your country.

After completing your nursing education, you'll need to become a registered nurse (RN). This typically involves passing the national licensing examination specific to your country, such as the NCLEX-RN in the United States.

Gain clinical experience as a staff nurse in your home country. Most international travel nursing positions require at least one to two years of experience, although some countries may have different requirements.

Research Destinations

Decide on the international destinations where you'd like to work as a travel nurse. Consider factors like language, culture, healthcare system, scope of practice and personal preferences.

Research the specific licensing and credentialing requirements for each destination. Each country may have different procedures for foreign-trained nurses to obtain licensure.

Set realistic salary expectations. Countries such as Luxembourg, Denmark and Australia are known to pay competitive salaries to international travel nurses, as per the data from the Economic Research Institute. The exact rates may vary based on the nursing specialty and experience.

Choose a Reputable Travel Nursing Agency

To become an international travel nurse, it's advised to work with a travel nursing agency that specializes in international placements. These agencies have experience and expertise in navigating the complexities of international nursing assignments.

Do thorough research to find an agency that aligns with your career goals and provides the support and benefits you need. Ideally, you want agencies that have established relationships with healthcare facilities in your desired destinations.

Know your preferred travel nursing contract length. In contrast to domestic travel nursing contracts that usually range from 8 to 13 weeks, international contracts are often longer, usually lasting 12 to 24 months, due to the additional time and effort required for international placements

Obtain the Necessary Credentials

Secure the required nursing licenses and certifications for the country you wish to work in. This may involve passing the host country's nursing board examination or fulfilling specific language proficiency requirements.

Ensure that your nursing credentials are up to date and in good standing in your home country, such as your RN license.

Some countries may require you to pass additional examinations, like the IELTS or TOEFL, to demonstrate proficiency in the local language or English, especially if you are a non-native English speaker.

Prepare the Documentation

Compile your nursing credentials, transcripts, licenses, certifications and reference letters. Ensure that all your documents are properly notarized and authenticated.

Some countries may require a criminal background check as part of the application process, so be prepared to provide those documents.

Work on Your Resume

Craft a professional resume that highlights your nursing education, experience, and any relevant certifications or specialties.

Include any international nursing experiences or language proficiency to showcase your readiness for an international assignment.

Apply for Positions

Work with your chosen travel nursing agency to identify and apply for international travel nursing positions in your desired destinations. The agency will assist you with the application process, matching you with healthcare facilities and ensuring that you meet all the necessary requirements.

Be prepared for interviews, either in person or virtually, as part of the selection process.

Passport and Visa

Ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your planned assignment. If necessary, you may need to renew it.

Work with your travel nursing agency and the host country's embassy or consulate to secure the appropriate work visa or permit. Visa requirements vary by country, so be sure to follow the specific guidelines and timelines.

Cultural and Language Preparation

Familiarize yourself with the culture, healthcare system, and language of your destination. Understanding the local customs, medical terminology, and communication norms will help you adapt more easily.

Consider taking cultural competence courses or language classes if necessary.

Packing and Logistics

Plan and pack for your international assignment, taking into account the specific requirements and climate of your destination. Check the baggage allowance with your travel nursing agency and the airline.

Make arrangements for housing and transportation upon arrival in the host country. Some agencies provide assistance with these logistics.

Health and Safety Preparations

Ensure that you are up to date with your vaccinations and have access to medical insurance that covers international travel.

Familiarize yourself with the healthcare resources available in your destination, including any healthcare facilities recommended by your agency.

Cultural Adaptation

Upon arrival, be open to immersing yourself in the local culture. Building relationships with colleagues and patients can help you adapt more quickly.

Be respectful of cultural differences and embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from your international experience.

Professional Growth

Take advantage of the opportunity to learn new nursing practices, gain exposure to diverse patient populations, and enhance your clinical skills. International travel nursing can be a valuable experience for your professional development.

Legal Compliance

Abide by the laws and regulations of the host country. Be aware of the scope of practice, ethical standards, and professional responsibilities that apply in your destination.

Keep your travel nursing agency informed of your progress and any issues you encounter during your assignment.

Completing Assignments

Becoming an international travel nurse involves a significant amount of preparation and documentation, but the rewards can be truly transformative. you'll have the chance to expand your nursing skills, experience new cultures, and make a positive impact on healthcare systems worldwide. by following these steps and working with a reputable travel nursing agency, you can successfully pursue a fulfilling international travel nursing career..

1. How to Become an International Travel Nurse (NurseJournal.org) 2. International Travel Nursing: What To Know Before Going Abroad (AllNursingSchools.com)

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what is an international travel nurse

Home / Nursing Careers & Specialties / Travel Nurse

Travel Nurse

What is a travel nurse, how to become a travel nurse, travel nurse faqs, what does a domestic or international travel nurse do, travel nurse salary and employment, helpful organizations, societies, & agencies.

Travel Nurse

Travel nurses are RNs from various clinical backgrounds who work for independent staffing agencies. They are assigned to different care areas on a temporary basis to fill in short-term employment gaps.

Travel nursing is a specialty that took root when the field of nursing faced a nationwide shortage. Hospitals, clinics, and other care areas had unfilled positions, yet had patients needing care. To try and attract nurses to the open positions, employers offered higher pay, housing, and covered the cost of relocating.

Due to these shortages, health care facilities have vacancies that need to be filled—and travel nurses are often the ones to fill open positions. Not only do travel nurses work in health care in any state in the country, but they also work outside of the United States as international travel nurses. The adventure and excitement of new opportunities, along with higher-than-average pay, are facets of travel nursing that many RNs find attractive.

Why Are Travel Nurses Important?

Travel nurses are an important part of the health care team because they help bridge the gap between supply and demand in the field of nursing. Mandatory nurse-patient ratios have led to increased patient safety and lower patient mortality . While this is a positive finding, and more and more states are passing legislation to implement staffing ratios, there are not enough nurses to fill the openings. Travel nurses assigned those open positions help to increase patient safety and improve patient outcomes.

Additionally, nurses from different educational backgrounds, care areas, and geographic locations bring a great deal to the practice of nursing. Sharing ideas and practices not only benefits patients, but also other nurses.

A travel nurse should have the following characteristics to excel in the role:

  • Enjoys experiencing new cities, towns, and organizations
  • Enjoys freedom. Travel nurses choose when and where they work, and choose their duration of employment
  • Enjoys flexibility. Travel nurses create their schedules, benefits packages, and income based on which agency they choose to work
  • Thrives on challenges. Moving to different states or overseas and being “the new nurse” repeatedly is challenging. Learning new organizational systems and workflows is particularly challenging
  • Loves learning new things. Each assignment takes travel nurses to new health care facilities, some with higher levels of technology or different standards of practice. Each experience helps nurses build upon their knowledge base

Additionally, travel nurses should have supportive families and friends. It's difficult to either pack up and move an entire family or leave your family and friends behind. The flip side to this is that new relationships are formed in each new location.

What Are the Educational Requirements for Travel Nurses?

Those interested in the specialty of travel nursing should first pursue a nursing degree through a two or four-year university. Obtaining an associate's degree ( ADN ) or bachelor's degree ( BSN ) in nursing is required. A BSN is not required to be a travel nurse, but some health care facilities only hire BSN-prepared nurses. The staffing agency in which the nurse is employed should match the nurse appropriately based on educational requirements.

After completion of an accredited nursing program, successful completion of the NCLEX-RN is required for licensure.

Most travel nurse agencies require a minimum of one year of hands-on experience in the chosen specialty of nursing. Additionally, some agencies will only hire BSN-prepared RNs. International travel nurses should speak the language of the country they are to practice in, as communication is an important part of effective healthcare delivery. Nurses are encouraged to research agencies when considering travel nursing.

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?

No additional exams are required for travel nursing. Based on the specialty, certification(s) may be required. Examples include:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) may be required
  • Stroke care certification
  • Telemetry certification
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Critical care nursing (adults, pediatric, neonatal)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) may be required
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certification
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
  • Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC) certification

Additional specific requirements may be necessary for international travel nurses. These include:

  • Acquiring a passport and work visa (usually handled by the agency)
  • Additional immunizations
  • Learning a new language
  • Learning about diseases unique to the area

How Can a Travel Nurse Receive a Tax-Free Housing Stipend?

Housing is one of the most significant concerns for a travel nurse. There are a few options available, and it depends on the travel nurse agency/company regarding how accommodations are set up. Some companies provide housing (i.e., apartment, duplex, etc.). Some companies offer a housing stipend, or a fixed amount of money each month to apply towards housing.

First, nurses need to be aware of where their “tax home” is, as stipends are tax-free if working away from the tax home. Having a tax home is necessary to receive tax-free housing. A "tax home" is defined as the general vicinity of an individual's primary place of work (regardless of where the primary residence is). Generally, the IRS considers someone traveling away from home (i.e., their "tax home") if it exceeds one workday.

Different travel nurse agencies offer different stipends - it’s important to research what the living expenses are in a specific area to ensure housing is adequately covered. The General Services Administration (GSA) lists the maximum daily amount for lodging, meals, and incidentals with regards to travel expenses . The key word is MAXIMUM. It's not required that a company pay employees the listed stipend. In fact, some travel nurse agencies offer higher hourly wages instead of housing stipends. Additionally, the GSA rates are based on short-term travel - usually less than a month. Travel nurse contracts can last three months or more.

Are Nursing Licenses Valid When Traveling and Working in Other States?

Those interested in travel nursing may have questions about licensing; specifically, how are licenses recognized if practicing in another state.

Depending on the state, new licensure is not necessary. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) developed the Nurse Licensure Compact which is an agreement between specific states to recognize nursing licenses without having to apply separately for licensure in another state. In other words, a nurse living in a "compact state" (one which is part of this agreement) can practice in another compact state without having to obtain additional licenses. There are now uniform licensure requirements that must be met when seeking a multistate license under the compact agreement. States that participate in the compact agreement can be found on the NCSBN website .

If not part of the compact agreement, some states allow nurses to obtain temporary licenses by endorsement. These are valid for specific lengths of time, so nurses must visit each state’s Board of Nursing website to determine specific temporary license requirements. If extending the assignment past the temporary license time frame, nurses must apply for a permanent license. Permanent licenses are also required for states that don't grant licensure by endorsement and don't participate in the NLC.

Travel nurses have a broad range of responsibilities and duties, and specific tasks depend on the specialty in which the nurse is trained. General nursing responsibilities and duties include:

  • Using the nursing process of assessing, diagnosing, planning, implementing, and evaluating to care for patients in a variety of healthcare settings
  • Administering medications, and fluids, assisting with activities of daily living and patient mobility
  • Reviewing and interpreting diagnostic tests such as lab work and imaging
  • Provide monitoring and oversight in all aspects of patient care
  • Collaborating with physicians in developing a plan of care
  • Assessing the psychosocial needs of patients and families
  • Recognizing and intervening in clinically unstable patients
  • Providing resources for patients and referring as necessary
  • Educating patients and families in all areas of healthcare maintenance and prevention
  • Working in assignments anywhere from eight to thirteen weeks (on average) in the U.S., one to two years if outside the U.S.
  • Learning various patient care systems/documentation
  • Providing immediate medical care and aid for large populations during times of war or disaster

Domestic and international travel nurses also have different characteristics specific to their roles.

Domestic Travel Nurses

  • Work within the U.S.
  • Typically work assignments that range from eight to thirteen weeks
  • Can respond to areas of the U.S that experience natural disasters or disease outbreaks

International Travel Nurses

International travel nurses should have excellent communication skills, should be open to new experiences and challenges, and should have a strong desire to learn. These nurses are responsible for performing a wide array of duties. As stated previously, the tasks an international nurse will have to perform depend entirely upon their medical specialty. Some of the more general or everyday tasks that international travel nurses will perform include administering medication, wound care, and providing emergency medical services and care. Since there are often nursing shortages in many of the regions that international nurses travel to, another general role of these nurses is to educate family members and caretakers about the appropriate patient and medical care. In summary, international travel nurses:

  • Work outside the U.S.
  • Typically work assignments that range from one to two years
  • Respond to areas that experience natural disasters or disease outbreaks, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
  • Provide medical care and aid to underserved, rural , and remote populations
  • Usually, must wait for document processing before traveling

Travel Nurse Working Conditions

As with any career, there are positive and negative aspects to working as a travel nurse. Nurses can suffer from stress as they may carry a heavy patient load and have many critical decisions to make. Additionally, travel nurses may suffer from feelings of isolation since they tend to relocate often. Having a strong sense of independence and a support system available, even remotely, can help.

Additionally, nurses may work in high-risk areas that may expose them to workplace violence, blood-borne pathogens, and chemicals. Travel nurses must always familiarize themselves with and adhere to safety standards set by the organization.

International travel nurses can face different challenges. Travel nurses must be familiar with the country's laws, and geographic-specific diseases, and always keep their overall safety as a priority.

Despite these considerations, travel nursing can be immensely rewarding. Many organizations and staff nurses appreciate the help travel nurses offer. Travel nurses help relieve staff nurses from burnout, as can happen when working short-staffed.

International travel nurses are also highly appreciated. They provide medical care and assistance to many patients in remote settings who otherwise would have no access to healthcare. They help with relief efforts in war zones or after disaster events, which can be both rewarding and enriching.

According to the American Nurses Association, as of 2015 fourteen states had mandatory nurse-patient ratios . Nurses are pushing for federal legislation supporting safe staffing and because of this, if more states pass safe-staffing laws, nurses will be in even more demand. Travel nurses will help mend the current and projected nursing shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16% overall growth for nurses until 2024, which is much faster-than-average growth for all occupations.

RELATED :  RN License Transfer and NLC Guide

Travel nursing has many incentives for nurses regarding pay and benefits including:

  • Travel reimbursement
  • Free housing
  • Medical, dental, and vision coverage
  • Retirement plans
  • Assistance in obtaining passports/work visas
  • Choice of location
  • Selection of hours/shifts worked
  • Competitive pay
  • Higher-than-average pay for RNs

According to Indeed, the average yearly salary for a travel nurse is $75,109. However, since pay is competitive in travel nursing, some companies are offering salaries of around $100,00 annually for domestic travel nurses.

International travel nurses tend to have lower salaries than domestic, except for assignments in some middle eastern countries. This is because, for the most part, nurses tend to make less outside of the U.S.

Salary is dependent on the agency, and nurses should research each company to find the right salary and benefits that best fit their needs.

  • International Council of Nurses
  • Professional Association of Nurse Travelers
  • National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations
  • American Travel Health Nurses Association

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  • 10 Pros and Cons of Becoming a Travel Nurse
  • 5 Specializations For Nurses Who Enjoy Travel
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Nurse.org

What is a Travel Nurse? Everything You Need to Know

How to become a travel nurse.

  • State Licensing
  • Agencies & Recruiters
  • Certifications
  • A Travel Nurse's Journey
  • Final Thoughts

Mountains and lake looking out airplane window

The world of nursing is not confined to traditional hospital settings. For those seeking excitement, flexibility, and diversity in their nursing careers, travel nursing presents a unique and rewarding opportunity.

This guide will discuss  travel nurse requirements , essential steps, qualities, and perks of becoming a travel nurse, offering valuable insights into this exhilarating profession.

Want to learn how to become a travel nurse ? The first step is obtaining the necessary education and licensure.

Aspiring nurses can choose to pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution. Opting for a BSN opens doors to a broader range of job prospects, including prestigious healthcare systems and trauma centers.

After completing their nursing education, nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to obtain their state nursing license, laying the foundation for their travel nursing journey.

As a travel nurse, certain certifications are commonly required and highly recommended to ensure the nurse’s readiness to handle various clinical situations and emergencies. The two critical certifications that travel nurses typically need are:

Basic Life Support (BLS): BLS certification by the American Heart Association is a fundamental requirement for all healthcare professionals. BLS training equips nurses with the skills to recognize and respond to life threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest, choking, and respiratory distress.

Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS): ACLS certification by the American Heart Association is essential for nurses working in settings where they may encounter patients with cardiac issues or in critical care situations. ACLS skills build upon BLS skills and provide additional knowledge and techniques to manage cardiac arrest, stroke and other cardiovascular emergencies. 

Depending on your specialty and the requirements from the facility you wish to travel to, other certifications such as PALS, NRP, and Stable may be required, so be sure to ask your recruiter before applying to travel nursing positions. Additionally, it's important for nurses to keep their certifications up to date, as they typically require renewal every few years.

>> Related: What do Travel Nurses Do?

The most important element to becoming a travel nurse is experience. Most travel agencies and hospitals require nurses to have a minimum of two years of nursing experience prior to applying for travel nursing contracts.

>> Click here to see available high-paying travel nurse opportunities!

Navigating State Licensing as a Travel Nurse

Travel nurses frequently move between states, requiring them to research and understand each state's licensing requirements. Some states offer temporary "walk-through" licenses, enabling nurses to obtain short-term licenses swiftly. Familiarity with individual state licensing procedures and timelines is crucial for successful travel assignments.

Compact state licensure for travel nurses is a game-changer in the healthcare industry, streamlining the licensing process and making it easier for nurses to practice across state lines. By participating in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), qualified nurses can hold a single multi-state license, granting them the privilege to work in any other NLC state without the need for additional licenses. 

This simplification not only reduces bureaucratic barriers but also addresses the growing demand for healthcare professionals in various regions. Travel nurses can now embark on new assignments swiftly, providing crucial medical support where it's needed most, and ultimately enhancing patient care across the nation.

Key Attributes of a Travel Nurse

Effective travel nurses possess a unique set of qualities that enable them to excel in diverse healthcare settings. These attributes include:

Adaptability and flexibility : The ability to quickly adjust to new environments and handle various patient populations and healthcare systems

Strong communication skills: Effective communication is essential for collaborating with different healthcare teams, patients, and families

Problem-solving and critical thinking : Travel nurses encounter new challenges regularly, necessitating strong problem-solving skills and critical-thinking abilities

Compassion and empathy: A genuine love for patient care and empathy are vital in providing exceptional nursing services as a travel nurse.

Leadership abilities: Travel nurses should be comfortable assuming leadership roles when needed and confidently handling responsibilities

  • Love for adventure: A spirit of adventure and a curiosity to explore new places and cultures is essential.

Benefits of Travel Nursing

Apart from competitive pay, travel nurses often enjoy an array of benefits:

Non-taxed stipends: Additional stipends for housing and living expenses on top of hourly rates if you qualify

Healthcare insurance: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage.

Retirement plans: 401K investment options for long-term financial planning

Bonuses: Sign-on, completion, and referral bonuses as incentives

Continuing education: Access to free courses for continuous professional development

License reimbursement: Support for renewing and maintaining licenses

Reliable pay: Weekly or bi-weekly pay schedules

Tax advantage plans: Tax-saving options for travel-related expenses

Insurance coverage: Coverage for life, liability, disability, and worker's compensation

Travel reimbursement to and from your assignment

Support: 24/7 support from the staffing agency. 

Travel Nurse Salary

The compensation for travel nurses varies significantly based on location, specialty, experience, and the chosen agency ZipRecruiter.com reports the national average for travel nurses is $118,400 per year.  While the pandemic and nursing shortage temporarily drove higher wages due to increased demand, these exceptional rates have not since been sustained post-pandemic. 

​​Travel Nurse Salary by State

Source: ZipRecruiter

Wages for travel nurses involve more than a straight hourly rate. They can receive non-taxed stipends for travel nurse housing and living expenses. Stipends are paid on top of the nurse’s hourly rate.  Other benefits for travel nurses, depending on the staffing agency,  include, 

  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • 401K investment options
  • Sign-on, completion, and referral bonuses
  • Free continuing education courses
  • License Reimbursement 
  • Weekly/Bi-weekly Pay
  • Tax Advantage Plan
  • Life Insurance
  • Liability Insurance, Disability Insurance, and Worker’s Compensation
  • 24/7 Support

Additionally, you can increase your travel nurse salary through specialization or advancing your education. The average travel nurse practitioner salary is significantly higher than that of travel RNs.

What Are The Best Travel Nurse Agencies and How Do You Pick One?

Your travel nurse company and recruiter can make or break your experience, so this question should not be taken lightly. 

When you’re starting your travel nurse journey, one of the first steps you need to take is finding a travel nurse company and recruiter. This process might feel overwhelming because there are so many options out there. How do you know if you’ve found a good travel nurse company and a recruiter who has your best interest at heart?

When looking into travel nurse agencies, you should first make sure that they have these non-negotiables:

  • A dedicated housing department of experts to help you find housing or do they give you a stipend to find your own housing
  • Day 1 health, dental and vision insurance, and premium cost
  • 401K that you can start contributing to immediately
  • Travel reimbursement
  • 24-hour customer support. Make sure to choose one with a clinical department that is available as a resource for you. 
  • Have a variety and abundance of travel nursing jobs all over the country for your specialty.

Make sure to ask if they are Joint Commission credentialed. Agencies that obtain this certification must complete a strict qualification process, and it helps ensure that the company is upheld to the highest standards in the industry.

What to Look Out for When Working With Travel Nurse Recruiters

Travel nurse recruiters play a vital role in connecting nurses with suitable assignments. A skilled and honest recruiter advocates for the nurse's best interests, secures desirable contracts, and provides transparent and accurate information in a timely manner. 

Conversely, nurses should be cautious of unprofessional recruiters who submit them to assignments without consent or make false promises. In many cases, travel nurses build long-time friendships with their recruiters! You want to find a recruiter with whom you can connect quickly and establish a bond. They should be someone who helps put your mind at ease, has your back, and actively listens to what you want instead of pushing their agenda.

Don’t be scared to interview recruiters to find the right one. Working with a recruiter whose personality, values, and humor complement yours will make your travel nurse experience even more worthwhile.

We encourage you to work with travel nurse recruiters who have been vetted and highly recommended by fellow travel nurses or with our trusted partner, travelnursing.org.

Certifications for Travel Nurses

While there are no specific national nursing certifications for a Travel Nurse, having advanced RN certifications can make an individual look more desirable to hospitals. There are a plethora of nationally recognized certifications including, 

  • CCCTM - Certified in Care, Coordination, and Transition Management
  • CDN - Certified Dialysis Nurse
  • CMSRN - Certified Medical Surgical Registered Nurse
  • CNN - Certified Nephrology Nurse
  • CNOR - Certified Nurse Operating Room
  • CPAN - Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse

The most common certifications for travel nurses are,

  • CPN - Certified Pediatric Nurse 
  • CCRN - Certified Critical Care Nurse
  • CEN - Certified Emergency Nurse

What Are the CEU Requirements for Travel Nurses?

Continuing education is essential for all registered nurses, including travel nurses, to maintain their active licenses. Each state has specific continuing education requirements that nurses must fulfill to remain compliant.

Examples of continuing education requirements for RNs are as follows: 

  • Washington - 8 contact hours every year
  • Texas - 20 contact hours every 2 years
  • Florida - 24 contact hours every 2 years
  • California - 30 hours every 2 years
  • Hawaii - 30 contact hours every 2 years 
  • Arkansas -20 contact hours every 2 years
  • Florida -24 contact hours every 2 years
  • Illinois - 20 contact hours every 2 years
  • Iowa -36 contact hours every 2 years
  • Pennsylvania -20 contact hours every 2 years

Some states do not require CEUs to maintain an RN license. Examples include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, and Maryland. Several states also require HIV/AIDS education such as New York, Minnesota, and Kentucky. It is important for nurses to check their state’s RN credentialing body for exact CEU requirements. 

Nurse.org has a comprehensive list of CEUs by state for RNs here .

Brandy Pinkerton's Journey to Becoming a Travel Nurse

Brandy Pinkerton shared with us why she decided to become a travel nurse and what her journey was like.

Why did I decide to become a travel nurse ? I was burned out in my staff job and needed to renew my passion for nursing. After finding a great company and a trustworthy recruiter, I embarked on my first assignment solo with my two doggies in tow and never looked back! 

Since pursuing a career as a travel nurse and completing over 15 assignments, I’ve had adventures in Florida , Colorado , Nevada , South Carolina , Texas , and Montana . Becoming a travel nurse was the best decision I could have made for myself! While I’m grateful I made the decision to become a travel nurse, I also know that there are a lot of logistics involved in getting started. I’ll tell you all there is to know about travel nursing, so that you can feel prepared to take the leap into this exciting, rewarding profession!

Here are a few things travel nursing has given me:

  • A better compensation package with benefits. Because of this, I could pay most of my debt, and I no longer had to work two jobs. 
  • More time off and flexibility with my schedule. You can imagine all the wonderful things that can happen when you have more time back.
  • Experiences that I would never usually get to have. Through these experiences, I discovered what I like and some new hobbies.
  • Less burnout – this is HUGE!
  • New relationships and friendships all over the U.S.
  • More confidence. I have grown both professionally & personally.
  • The ability to build my resume. I’ve been able to try out so many hospitals and have great takeaways from them. Who knows? There are some I may go back to one day.

Final Thoughts on Travel Nursing

Becoming a travel nurse is a thrilling journey that promises adventure, personal growth, and unique experiences. From education and licensure to acquiring experience and embracing essential attributes, travel nurses embark on a profession that combines professionalism with exploration. With competitive salaries, a range of benefits, and the potential to make a meaningful impact on patients across various locations, travel nursing offers a gratifying and fulfilling career path like no other! 

Kathleen Gaines

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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If you want to advance your nursing career and explore your cultural interests, you should consider participating in an international travel nursing program.

By being an international travel nurse, you can travel, work with seasoned medical professionals from all over the globe, and expand your professional network while honing your patient-care abilities and earning a vast range of expertise.

Knowing what foreign travel nursing is, what it requires, and how it might benefit you can help you decide if it’s the appropriate step for your nursing career. In this introductory guide, we’ll go through the fundamentals of international travel nursing and how to locate one, so you can make a decision.

international traveling nurse with a mask, backpack, and suitcase boarding a plane to her next assignment

International Travel Nursing

International travel nursing is a career choice for nurses that entails living in another country and working in direct patient care. International travel nurses collaborate with other medical professionals in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and other medical institutions, treating patients and promoting good healthcare in that area. The duration of placement can range from a few months to a year or more.

what is an international travel nurse

Responsibilities of An International Travel Nurse

  • As needed, complete onboarding, orientation, and training at a new location.
  • Caring for a diverse patient population, including individuals living in rural areas, underprivileged communities, areas affected by complicated chronic illnesses, and post-disaster zones.
  • An international travel nurse collaborates with doctors, specialists, other nurses, and other medical personnel to treat patients.
  • Taking vital signs, going through medical histories, and keeping track of symptoms are all part of the examination process of international travel nurses.
  • Taking care of wounds and dressings.
  • Giving medications and applying vaccines.
  • Assisting patients in recovery with eating, bathing, and other self-care tasks.
  • Creating, managing, or updating patient records systems.
  • Educating patient populations on specific health conditions and overall wellness.
  • Maintaining a safe and clean treatment environment.

High Demand for Travel Allied HCPs

Benefits of international travel nursing.

Here are some of the many benefits you can expect from the international travel nursing career

More Diverse Nursing Experience

As an international travel nurse, you will be exposed to a wide range of challenges and unique scenarios, allowing you to become a more successful nurse. You can broaden your horizons by experiencing with:

You may treat patients of many races and ethnicities, socioeconomic groups, and religions. Having experience treating people from various backgrounds might help you become more empathic and communicative.

Because several countries have more serious rates of certain diseases and illnesses, gaining hands-on experience with conditions you wouldn’t ordinarily treat in the United States might help you prepare for more challenging patients wherever you work.

Because best practices differ by country, practitioner, and facility, you may be exposed to novel techniques of treating individuals and specific illnesses that you haven’t tried or are unfamiliar with. This chance will allow you to enhance your nursing expertise and patient-care approach.

International travel nursing offers a variety of flexible alternatives, including time off between assignments, the length of your placements, the distance you’re willing to go, and the places you’d like to work in. This experience gives you more freedom than traditional nursing jobs, which require you to work full-time and permanently.

You could work at a large or small hospital, in a wealthy or impoverished neighborhood, in a clinic for specialized patient populations, or in various other settings. Having expertise in multiple fields improves your adaptability while broadening your nursing practice.

Expanding Your Network

When you work in a new patient care setting, you get to work with new practitioners from whom you can learn. As an international travel nurse, you will be performing at different institutions and increasing your network every few months, years, or decades. At this rate, you can quickly establish a global network of medical experts who can attest to your treatment abilities, dedication, and professionalism, as well as serve as a resource for finding future patient care employment.

Improved Communication Skills

Living in another country may require you to improve your language abilities. Speaking, writing, and listening in another language are necessary for working as a nurse in another country. Being bilingual is crucial as a nurse since it allows you to speak with and treat a broader range of patients.

You increase your communication skills by acquiring new ones utilized in different nations and learning or strengthening skills in another language. Some countries, for example, use nonverbal cues differently from the United States. In instances like these, your ability to read body language, adapt, and improvise improves as well.

Higher Cultural Awareness

When you travel and work in different parts of the world, you can broaden your cultural understanding and respect. These experiences can make you a more compassionate person and nurse. These qualities can make you a better candidate for future nursing positions, especially ones with leadership responsibilities and at institutions with a diverse patient population.

Potentially Higher Benefits and Compensation

With international travel nursing, you get higher benefits and compensation, which may comprise the following items, depending on the organization you are put through and where you are placed:

  • An hourly rate of pay.
  • Lodgings stipends or furnished housing provided.
  • Compensation for travel to and from the destination.
  • Stipend for food and recreation.
  • Medical, vision, and dental insurance are all available.
  • Paid vacation.
  • Reimbursement for training and licensing.
  • A bonus after a project.

Average Salary of an International Travel Nurse

Travel nurses might earn up to $109,185 per year on average. On the other hand, earning potential varies greatly depending on the country, location, and facility in which you are working. Salary is also influenced by your educational background, years of experience, applicable certifications, and nursing specialty.

How To Become An International Travel Nurse

Becoming an international travel nurse is a journey that starts with the following:

Certifications and Credentials Needed

You must have a license to demonstrate your skill in patient care procedures and ethics to qualify for any nursing position. The qualifications for licensing vary per state and country, but the majority of them include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing from a respected program or a diploma from a training program for licensed practical nurses (LPNs).
  • Completion of a specific number of clinical hours involving direct patient care.
  • Passing the National Council Licensure Examination–Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) or an equivalent LPN examination.
  • Continuing education credits. Required to keep your license current.
  • Proof of licensing

Consider A Specialty

A specialty certification may qualify you for positions in countries or facilities where nurses with unique abilities and experience are needed to address specific diseases. Specialization might boost your earning potential and increase your chances of landing a leadership position.

The following are some of the specialties in which you might consider earning an advanced degree or certification:

  • Nursing in a surgical setting
  • Anesthesia for Intensive Care Units
  • Neonatal care
  • Intensive treatment
  • Delivery and labor
  • Hospital emergency room

When applying for international travel nursing jobs, make sure to include your advanced degree, qualification, or experience on your resume.

Join a Travel Nursing Organization

Consider joining a group such as the National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations to receive access to travel nursing placement agencies, open travel nursing positions abroad, training opportunities, and other helpful information.

Try Volunteering Abroad

Short-term travel nursing positions are available in the United States and abroad that allow you to donate your nursing expertise in facilities or regions where healthcare experts are in high demand, such as post-disaster zones. While you won’t be paid, seeking these short-term options can help you determine if travel nursing is suitable for you before committing to a longer-term commitment.

Volunteer travel nursing can help you get into an international nursing program by demonstrating prior travel nursing experience and an ability to adapt. These experiences can also help you improve your resume for local nursing jobs.

Meet The Country’s Requirements

You may need to get additional documentation to meet the country’s criteria in which you wish to work in addition to meeting US standards. You can work with the agency to handle this process, or you can look into the requirements of the country’s healthcare regulatory body if you’re applying on your own.

You may be required to meet the following requirements:

  • Supplemental Education You will never run out of things to learn, whether it is a new certification or the constant improvement and practice in your area. Supplemental education will make the interview process more accessible, and you will be a great candidate for international travel nursing.
  • Licensure In That Country Make sure to have all the paperwork ready so you won’t have to face any problem regarding the licensure in the country you are traveling to work.
  • Undergo Additional Training Constant training is needed, and it will never be too much. Train in the new facility or familiarize yourself with the place you’re traveling, so you understand the basics and even train yourself for specific conditions.
  • Getting Vaccinated Passing a physical and getting vaccinations is vital. Make sure you have all your vaccines so you can be protected.

5 Tips For International Travel Nurses

1. travel with a partner.

No matter the company —a fellow nurse, your significant other, a spouse— traveling with a partner that can be there for you is an irreplaceable privilege, so if you have the chance of doing so, it is highly recommended that you consider it.

2. Arrive Before Your Assignment To Get Settled In

While travel nursing assignments in the US typically last between eight and 26 weeks, international nursing jobs are often longer, so it would be great if you could prepare yourself calmly and with time. Arrive before your assignment and see how everything works.

3. Learn The Language

Of course, knowing at least the basics will help you greatly while working as an international nurse. You must communicate as well as possible to help patients in their treatment process.

4. Pack Lightly

Packing lightly might be one of the hardest things to do, but it is needed. Try to pack as lightly as you can so you can travel comfortably and without much stress.

5. Request A Tour of the Medical Facility

Before starting your assignment, request a tour of the facilities, more so if you didn’t have the time to gather enough information. Getting to know the medical facility where you’re going to work is vital and will help you immensely.

Travel Nurses Abroad

Working as an international traveling nurse lets you work in some of the most prominent facilities in the world, improve your clinical and professional capabilities, decide where you want to work and when, and earn competitive compensation with excellent benefits. International Traveling as a nurse also offers free or subsidized private housing, the chance of meeting new people, and the possibility of forming lasting friendships. You can even bring your spouse, family pet, or a friend with you on the trip, so sleep on it and choose the best destination, one that’s going to fit your goals.

Travel nursing jobs exist in a variety of locations around the world. Australia, New Zealand, China, and the Middle East have the greatest need for U.S. nurses. Rapid response nurses who can provide critical care in the aftermath of natural disasters and areas prone to high disease rates may be in high demand in places prone to these kinds of disasters.

It’s worth noting, though, that finding an agency or assignment that will send you to a nation where you don’t speak the language is uncommon. Before you may be considered for a nursing position in a foreign country, you must have a basic understanding of the local language.

Are you looking to start a new journey as an international travel nurse? We hope this introductory guide will help you take the leap and apply for nursing abroad. Stability Healthcare has the perfect job for you! Let us be your open door.

International travel nursing is a career choice for nurses that entails living in another country and working in direct patient care. International travel nurses collaborate with other medical professionals in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and other medical institutions, treating patients and promoting good healthcare in that area. The duration of placement can range from a few months to a year or more compared to domestic travel nursing contracts.

what is an international travel nurse

International travel nurses often have the following responsibilities. These may vary depending on the region and facility in which they work:

Because of the global nursing shortage, travel nurses are constantly needed. Also in the event of a disease outbreak or a natural disaster in a country, international travel nursing can greatly help the responding local health workforce. For various reasons—including the difficulties of the job and the vital necessity for them in hospitals—travel nurse salaries are higher than permanent nurses, and they get offered excellent health insurance. In addition, they are paid an hourly, non-taxable stipend to cover their travel and living expenses, making them exceptionally well-compensated nurses.

You could work at a large or small hospital, in a wealthy or impoverished neighborhood, in a clinic for specialized patient populations, or in various other settings. Having expertise in multiple fields improves your adaptability while broadening your nursing practice and skill set.

When you travel and work in different parts of the world, you can broaden your cultural understanding and respect. These valuable experiences can make you a more compassionate person and nurse. These qualities can make you a better candidate for future nursing positions, especially ones with leadership responsibilities and at institutions with a diverse patient population.

With international travel nursing, you get higher benefits and compensation packages,  which may comprise the following items, depending on the organization you are put through and where you are placed:

  • Lodgings or housing stipends or furnished housing provided.
  • A bonus after a project and additional benefits .

Becoming a travel nurse for an international assignment is a journey that starts with the following:

You must have a nursing license to demonstrate your skill in patient care procedures and ethics to qualify for any nursing position. The qualifications for licensing vary from country to country , but the majority of them include:

  • Passing the National Council Licensure Examination–Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) or an equivalent LPN certification exam.
  • Continuing education credits. Required to keep your nursing license current.

A specialty certification may qualify you for international travel nursing positions in countries or facilities where nurses with unique abilities and experience are needed to address specific diseases. Specialization might boost your earning potential and increase your chances of landing a leadership position.

Short-term travel nursing positions are available in the United States and abroad that allow you to donate your nursing expertise in facilities or regions where healthcare experts are in high demand or where there are nursing shortages, such as post-disaster zones. While you won’t be paid, seeking these short-term options can help you determine if travel nursing is suitable for you before committing to a longer-term commitment.

On top of your current certifications and clinical experience, you may need to get additional documentation to meet the country’s criteria in which you wish to work in addition to meeting US standards. You can work with the travel nurse agency to handle this process, or you can look into the requirements of the country’s healthcare regulatory body if you’re applying on your own.

  • Supplemental Education You will never run out of things to learn, whether it is a new certification or the constant improvement and practice in your area. Supplemental education or additional certifications will make the interview process more accessible, and you will be a great candidate for international travel nursing.
  • Licensure In That Country Make sure to have all the paperwork ready, so you won’t have to face any problem regarding the licensure in the country you are traveling to work.
  • Undergo Additional Training Constant training is needed, and it will never be too much. Train in the new facility or familiarize yourself with the place traveling to so yo u  understand the basics and even train yourself for specific conditions.

Of course, knowing at least the basics will help you greatly while working as an international nurse. You must communicate as well as possible to help patients in their treatment process. While it’s likely you’ll be sent to an English-speaking country if that’s your only language or a country where English is commonly spoken, the point of working abroad, after all, is knowing new things. Including the language.

Working as an international traveling nurse lets you work in some of the most prominent facilities in the world, improve your clinical and professional capabilities, decide where you want to work and when, and earn competitive compensation with excellent benefits. International Traveling as a nurse also offers free or subsidized private housing, paid travel expenses, the chance of meeting new people, and the possibility of forming lasting friendships. You can even bring your spouse, family pet, or a friend with you on the trip, so sleep on it and choose the best destination, one that’s going to fit your goals.

Travel nursing jobs exist in a variety of locations around the world. Australia, New Zealand, China, and the Middle East have the greatest need for U.S. nurses, but European countries are an option as well and are good opportunities for nurses to learn different but advanced practices. Rapid response nurses who can provide critical care in the aftermath of natural disasters and areas prone to high disease rates may be in high demand in places prone to these kinds of disasters.

It’s worth noting, though, that finding a travel nursing agency or assignment that will send you to a nation where you don’t speak the language is uncommon. Before you may be considered for a nursing position in a foreign country, you must have a basic understanding of the local language.

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International Travel Nursing: Nursing Specialties Breakdown

  • Explore the exciting field of international travel nursing to help fill the 13 million nurse deficit worldwide.
  • Discover how to get started as an international travel nurse, including the necessary documentation.
  • Learn about international travel nursing salaries, and how these opportunities can be found.

what is an international travel nurse

Charmaine Robinson

MSN-Ed, BSN, RN

Simmons University

Travel nursing has become more popular in recent years. Travel nurses have the freedom to choose when and where they work, and can negotiate pay, schedules, and other contract details. While international travel nursing offers a unique and potentially exciting opportunity for career expansion, nurses should prepare adequately before taking the plunge.

what is an international travel nurse

What is International Travel Nursing?

International travel nursing is a specialty field of travel nursing in which nurses can work standard or crisis (disaster relief) assignments abroad. While local travel nursing assignments typically last a couple of months at a time, international travel nursing assignments can last up to several years.

International travel nursing may help to fill the global nurse shortage gap – an estimated deficit of 13 million nurses . International travel nursing is not a new concept. Countries have been sharing nurses for a while now.

Many nurses from English-speaking countries like the Philippines and Jamaica, have travelled internationally to the U.S. to assist with nursing shortages. China, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Australia all hire U.S. nurses to work abroad.

Should a nurse decide to pursue international travel nursing, there are several steps that should be taken to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.

How to Become an International Travel Nurse

Similar to local travel nursing, international travel nurses should have experience as a nurse already. The number of years required may vary per country. Some countries may require a specific nursing degree (like a BSN) or a specified number of nursing practice hours for qualification. Explore these additional requirements for international travel nurses.

Obtain a Passport and Work Visa

Passports are a basic requirement of international travel – whether for work or leisure. In order to travel to work as an international nurse, a visa is required. Nurses must be aware of which type of visa is required as there are varying types. For example in Australia , nurses can obtain different types of visas including occupational, independent, and temporary.

Obtain Licenses and Certifications

Depending on the country of work, nurses may have to take an additional nursing exam. For example in Australia , nurses are required to take two exams, the NCLEX (may qualify to bypass retesting) and the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Exam). In addition to licenses, nurses in certain specialties may have to obtain additional certifications.

Update Vaccinations and Physicals

Working in other countries may expose travel nurses to communicable diseases that are not as prevalent in the U.S. Therefore, international travel nurses may be required to receive additional vaccines. Nurses may also be required to pass special physicals as the physical demands of the job in other countries may differ from those in the U.S. For example, nurses who wish to work in Canada are required to obtain a medical exam by a practitioner designated by the country.

Ensure Language Proficiency

Language proficiency is imperative when working internationally. While many countries are English-speaking, many are not. Nurses who wish to travel internationally should ensure that they speak the language of the communities they will serve. Some countries may require a language proficiency test. For example, the United Kingdom requires an International English Language Testing Scheme (IELTS) exam.

what is an international travel nurse

International Travel Nurse Salary and Positions

International travel nurses can make a substantial amount of money, much more than that of a local travel nurse. International travel RNs make an average of $124,382 annually . Salaries can vary based on experience level, specialty, location, and living arrangement.

Landing international positions requires preparation, patience, and determination. Nurses who wish to work in this field may apply for positions through international travel nursing agencies or directly through the country’s nursing governing body. Here are three ways to get started.

Nursing Regulatory Bodies

One of the best ways to find international nursing positions is to go directly to the source. Nurses who wish to work abroad can find out the exact requirements necessary by visiting the website of the country’s nursing regulatory body. A simple online search is all it takes. Here are a few international resources .

  • Australia: Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
  • Canada: National Nursing Assessment Service
  • New Zealand: Nursing Council of New Zealand
  • South Africa: South African Nursing Council
  • United Kingdom: The Nursing and Midwifery Council

The U.S. Department of Defense

A great resource for finding international nursing jobs is the Department of Defense (DoD). Currently, there are no international positions open for registered nurses. However, the DoD hires nurse practitioners (NPs) in the role of “foreign service medical providers.”

Job benefits include life and medical insurance, family leave, sick and holiday pay, retirement, and educational training and development. Annual salary ranges from $105,654 to $150,127. NPs are assigned to overseas missions that can last up to three years. Duties include performing medical exams, prescribing treatments, providing emergency care, acting as a diplomat, and maintaining involvement with the U.S. embassy.

The Peace Corps

The Peace Corps , known for its global volunteer services, is a great resource for nurses who wish to explore opportunities abroad prior to stepping into the international nurse role. Although there are no travel nursing positions available, the organization has many volunteer openings for community health educators in Africa and South America.

Volunteers work alongside nurses in the community by helping with trainings, small group meetings, mentoring, and community mobilization. Positions require a bachelor’s degree and five years of professional experience. Preferred qualifications include nursing experience, interest in public health, and willingness to learn the local language.

what is an international travel nurse

The Bottom Line

Nurses who wish to explore the world of international travel nursing should start researching now. The process of obtaining all required documents, tests, and vaccines can take months, even years.

Nurses who prefer to work through an international travel agency may benefit from joining a professional international travel nursing group (like American Travel Health Nurses Association) for support and agency recommendations. In these groups, international nurses can share their experiences managing cultural shock, securing housing, navigating varying health systems, and handling legalities and other affairs.

Overall, international travel nursing is a great way for nurses to explore and heal the world.

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what is an international travel nurse

What To Expect As An International Travel Nurse Coming to The U.S.

  • November 29, 2022

International travel nursing jobs bring tremendous personal, professional, and financial rewards. It’s not uncommon for travel nurses to explore their options overseas and gain new experiences and skills. However, the international travel nursing experience works both ways, as many travelers from different countries seek rewarding opportunities within the United States.

Although the demand for travel nurses may not be as high as it was, there’s still evidence of the continued need for travelers in America. Working in the US as an international travel nurse could potentially bring a higher salary, extensive career growth, and many other amazing benefits. It will be a lot to learn at first, but the autonomy included with working in the US as a valued medical professional is so worthwhile and fulfilling. Since the American healthcare system might look a bit different than your country of origin, it can be helpful to prepare for various situations. 

Queue Some Talking Points

It’s already challenging to work in a new environment, but refreshing your language-learning skills, or learning from scratch, is in a different ballpark! You may care for patients who speak very quickly or say things you’ve never heard before, so if you don’t know what they mean, ask! Travel nurses must ensure they understand everything when it comes to their processes and the safety of the patients. Try asking for clarification respectfully, like, “I’m sorry, I haven’t heard that term before. What do you mean by that?” Or, “I’m not familiar with those words. Can you explain what you mean?”

If you’re still mastering your proficiency and worried patients might doubt your nursing capabilities, confide in your colleagues. Most people are happy to help but don’t want to overstep and assume you need it. Travel nurses are a large community, and many may have found ways to learn a language more efficiently. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

Research Your Healthcare Facility

It’s best to familiarize yourself with your new setting as much as possible. A few must-knows include:

  • The attendance policy
  • How to access and review the facility’s policies and procedures
  • How to request time off, personal days, and vacation
  • How to call in sick and appropriately address unplanned time off
  • The details of your travel nursing contract to learn more about your responsibilities, guaranteed hours, etc.

Some facilities are stand-alone organizations with no other locations. However, many are now part of larger corporations with many branches across different regions. It also doesn’t hurt to learn about the local population to know who you might be treating. 

6 Ways International Travel Nurses Can Work In The U.S.

While working as a travel nurse in a different country, international travelers should consider that they’ll be far away from home and their loved ones. You may even miss some holidays and special family events. Those are some factors that you should contemplate.

Once you’ve decided to start travel nursing in America, here is what you can do next.

1. Meet the educational requirements.

According to the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), international travel nurses must meet the following educational requirements:

Graduation from an accredited Registered Nursing program: an ADN or BSN

Licensing as a Registered Nurse

Experience practicing for at least two years

2. Complete a foreign-educated nurses (FEN) course

While the aforementioned are required, most states also require international travel nurses to complete a Foreign-Educated Nurses (FEN) refresher course. The course consists of 120 hours in the classroom and 120 hours of clinical practice under the supervision of a licensed RN.

3. Take and pass an English language proficiency test if mandated

Depending on where you’re from, some travelers must pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Nurses who went to nursing school in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (except Quebec), or Ireland are exempt, as are those whose spoken language in nursing school was English or the nursing school textbooks were written in English.

4. Pass your NCLEX exam if you haven’t already

Registration is required and costs $200 plus additional foreign fees. According to the webpage, NCLEX examinations are currently administered in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan. 

5. Obtain credential evaluation

An evaluation is specifically for healthcare professionals, including registered nurses coming from other countries like Canada, to work in the United States. There are three main credentialing reports:

Credentials Evaluation Service Professional Report

CGFNS Certification Program

VisaScreen: Visa Credentials Assessment

6. Find a nursing recruiting agency or US-based employer

It’s easier for international travel nurses to work with an independent staffing recruiter and agency than directly with a hospital. Agencies are well versed in helping travel nurses work in the U.S. and have systems to ensure all information and paperwork is completed accurately.

Apply and obtain an RN immigrant visa or green card. There are three different types:

Travel Nurse Visa : Mexican and Canadian nurses may work in the United States with this visa if the individual has an offer of employment, a license to practice in their home country, and pass the NCLEX and state licensure requirements. 

H-1B Temporary Work Visa: Travel nurses who hold a four-year degree and fulfill a specialized nursing role may qualify for this visa and then apply for a green card once stateside. These specialized roles include critical care nurses, emergency room nurses, and cardiology nurses.

It is important to note that there is a minimal number of H-1C visas available to nurses who want to work in very specific hospitals in underserved communities. 

Permanent Work Visa: Most foreign-trained travel nurses will need a permanent work visa—a green card. You must complete this application before traveling to the United States and obtain the visa before immigrating legally. 

Accept a travel nurse position!

If there is a particular hospital you’re interested in, you may want to look on their site to see if they have any openings.

Get ready to experience adventure, career growth, and, hopefully, the growth of your bank account! It is important for those interested in pursuing this avenue to obtain the proper visas and paperwork. This process can take a while to complete, so don’t wait around when you decide to go abroad!

what is an international travel nurse

From a Staff Nurse to Travel Nurse: Everything You Need to Know to Expand Your Career

Travel nursing has been an in-demand career for years now, but the pandemic pushed demand for travel nurses to an all-time high.  If you’re considering making the move to travel nursing, you’re bound to have certain questions. How does travel

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Getting ready for your first assignment as a travel nurse? Congratulations! It’s an exciting time in your career and travel nursing will open up so many doors for you. If you’re already packed, have your housing situation settled, and have

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International Travel Nursing: How to Work Abroad as a Nurse

Written by: university of tulsa   •  jan 22, 2024.

A nurse smiling and holding a tablet in a medical facility.

International Travel Nursing: How to Work Abroad as a Nurse                                                 ¶

Offering care that improves patient outcomes is a global health care goal, but it can be difficult to achieve. A worldwide nursing shortage has left care facilities in need of skilled, qualified nurses who can help them meet their goals. The shortage provides unique opportunities for those interested in travel nursing to take their expertise abroad.

International travel nursing provides advanced professional nurses the ability to deliver care where it’s most needed around the globe. It also enables them to see the world, a view that can make the role even more satisfying. Those interested in the role should be prepared to add a few extra steps to their advanced nursing journey.

The International Demand for Nurses  ¶

The nursing shortage is a growing issue across the globe. Domestically, the supply of registered nurses (RNs) dropped by more than 100,000 in 2021 , according to a Health Affairs study. This represented the largest drop in the field in four decades. 

The shortage also carries a global impact. In 2020 — the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — the World Health Organization (WHO) set the estimated need for nurses around the globe at 7.07 million . One year later, data gathered by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) suggested that this need would climb to almost 13 million worldwide by 2030. 

The shortage correlates with poor economic development. According to an ICN policy brief, 89% of nursing shortages are generated from low-income and low- to middle-income countries. The brief also noted the impact of an aging nursing workforce relating to the shortage, as 1 in 6 nurses worldwide is projected to retire by 2030.

The data represents not only the global need but also potentially abundant opportunities for those seeking to advance their careers as travel nurses. A qualified nurse with the right credentials can also pursue a role in international travel nursing and deliver holistic patient care to places in the world where their services are needed.

An international travel nurse can help ease the stress of long-term nursing shortages, but they can also travel to places that need nurses due to sudden or unexpected circumstances, such as a disease outbreak or a natural disaster. Exposure to different countries and cultures can help these nurses enhance their skill sets in unique ways, such as learning about a new medical technique or picking up a new language. 

Additionally, international travel nurses get to see the world through their work. This can make the job personally enriching for individuals interested in exploring the globe and experiencing different cultures, customs, and traditions.

Several other benefits are associated with international travel nursing. These additional benefits include gaining hands-on experience with treating issues uncommon in the U.S., gaining exposure to different work environments and treatment strategies, and gaining exposure to patients with diverse cultural backgrounds. 

Becoming an international travel nurse isn’t for everyone. The role requires flexibility and a willingness to adjust to the differences that may exist within different countries, such as unfamiliar facilities or societal health care norms. For some, these differences may make the role uniquely enticing and an ideal career choice.

How to Work Abroad as a Nurse  ¶

Becoming an international travel nurse is a complex process. The journey involves several steps typically associated with becoming a nursing professional. It also involves unique steps designed to allow nurses to be eligible and fully prepared to travel abroad and provide nursing services. Those interested in the career must fully understand how to work abroad as a nurse before embarking on this journey, as failure to do so may disrupt the process.

Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree            ¶

As is the case with any advanced nursing career, the first step to becoming an international travel nurse is to earn a nursing degree . This allows nurses to develop the foundational knowledge and skills needed to perform the essential patient care tasks that they may face while working abroad.

While earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the educational benchmark for an international travel nurse, earning an advanced nursing degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can further fortify a nurse’s acumen. This may make them even better prepared for the unique challenges of international travel nursing. 

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam             ¶

Individuals with a nursing degree must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before they’re allowed to practice nursing as an RN. The exam is intended to ensure that nurses are fully prepared to put their knowledge into practice in a real-world environment. In addition to this exam, nurses may need to meet the requirements of the state where they intend to work.

Step 3: Gain Experience            ¶

RNs must typically have at least two years of clinical experience before they can become an international travel nurse. The experience allows nurses to not only develop their skills individually or with nursing mentors but also pursue a specialty within the nursing field, which is usually required for the profession. Common specialties include pediatric nursing, surgical nursing, intensive care nursing, and emergency room nursing.

Step 4: Obtain Additional Credentials             ¶

International travel nurses often must carry credentials beyond licensing that can transfer from state to state. The credentials can include a valid passport, a work visa, up-to-date vaccinations, and a language test. Nurses need to double-check the requirements of any prospective country before pursuing nursing opportunities there.

Tips for Prospective Travel Nurses  ¶

Finding work in international travel nursing can be a daunting task. Fortunately, plenty of tips and resources are available to make the process easier for nurses to navigate.

Using an International Nursing Recruiting Agency          ¶

Travel nurse agencies are staffing organizations designed to connect travel nurses with international employment opportunities. The opportunities are based on experience and whether credentials align with a country’s guidelines, among other key metrics. Several agencies may also require candidates to have a minimal understanding of the assigned country’s language.

Some agencies may provide free housing for the duration of the assignment. Other agencies may provide a stipend to cover travel and housing costs for the opportunity. Typically, assignments last between two and six months.

An individual can connect with an international nursing recruiting agency in several ways, including the following:

  • Lead websites. Lead websites enable nurses to provide key professional and contact information to various nursing agencies at once.
  • Rating services. Rating services provide feedback from peers in the field regarding their agency experiences, giving deeper insight into an organization’s operations.
  • Networking websites. Networking websites allow nurses to directly connect with agencies. This can lead to referrals or connections to agency recruiters.
  • Peer referral. Peer referral requires nurses to correspond with networked colleagues to ask them directly about their agency experiences.

Tips for Success       ¶

Before using a staffing agency to land an international travel nursing position, individuals must be aware of a few things to make the process efficient. These will not only streamline the potential opportunities but also allow them to confirm whether the opportunity is an ideal fit for them.

  • Ensure proper licensing. Nurses should double-check that their licensing and credentials satisfy the country offering the position. These opportunities are only available for nurses with the correct credentials.
  • Learn the requirements. In addition to having travel documents, such as passports and visas, some countries may require other documents for travel nurses. These can include birth certificates, work permits, and professional sponsorships. Some jobs may also require certification in a nursing specialty.
  • Understand logistics and budgeting. Nurses should be aware of assignment length to properly plan for consistent work opportunities while minimizing lengthy unemployment gaps. They must also analyze the economics of each assignment to ensure that the salary is satisfactory, that they’re properly prepared for taxes and exchange rates, and that they can comfortably handle expenses like housing and food.
  • Weigh the pros and cons. Examine the advantages of each potential opportunity and weigh them against the potential challenges. If the challenges outweigh the advantages, it may be wise to pass on the opportunity.
  • Explore multiple opportunities. Seeking details on a wide range of potential travel jobs can allow nurses to find a travel role that best suits their knowledge and skills. It can also prevent individuals from merely settling for pursuing the first ill-fitting role or two they encounter.

Resources  ¶

Here are some resources for prospective travel nurses.            

  • Health Carousel : This travel nurse job board provides a host of tips for first-time travel nurses. The tips highlight assignment preparation and strategies to succeed within the new work environment. 
  • Verywell Health : This medical website provides a curated resource list for the top travel nursing services as of 2023. The list is based on metrics such as best track record, best benefits, best job board, and so forth.
  • LeaderStat : This health care job site provides a checklist covering documentation commonly associated with travel nursing. It also highlights other requirements that may be associated with certain assignments, such as physical exams.
  • CollectivCare : This travel nurse-focused website features resources for mobile apps designed to help travel nurses stay organized and efficient while abroad. The apps can also help travel nurses integrate with new surroundings both foreign and domestic.
  • Travel Nursing Central : This travel nurse review website has a list of foreign nursing boards that can provide further information on travel nurse requirements by country. It also provides tips on travel nurse preparation and cultural traditions.

Deliver Care Around the World ¶

International travel nursing provides professionals with unique opportunities to explore the world, learn new care techniques, and expand their knowledge. More importantly, the work of these nursing professionals makes the delivery of quality patient care possible. This level of care can have a positive impact on other people’s lives, making the role of the international travel nurse one of the most satisfying professions the health care field has to offer.

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How to become an international travel nurse.

One of the benefits of being a travel nurse is that you can see more of your home country, exploring the biggest cities and towns, as well as a slew of healthcare facilities.

But as an international travel nurse, you can take things a step further, exploring more countries and cultures and broadening your horizons as a result.

What is International Travel Nursing?

Travel nurses are qualified nurses hired to fill temporary nursing positions. Healthcare facilities hire travel nurses to deal with shortages and increased demand, and they typically work for several months at a time.

US travel nurses work for US agencies and those agencies work with healthcare providers all over the world. An international travel nurse is simply someone who is hired to complete assignments outside of the United States.

How to Become an International Travel Nurse

Nurses need many of the same qualifications to work internationally as they do domestically, but there are a few differences.

The traditional steps required for a US travel nurse are:

  • Complete a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree or an associate degree in nursing (ADN).
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Gain at least 1 year of experience.
  • Acquire the necessary licenses.
  • Find a travel nurse agency.

In the US, travel nurses can rely on the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows them to use one license to work in many states. Outside of the United States, it's a little more complicated.

The exact requirements will depend on your chosen destination, but it's not just licensing that you need to consider.

You may need a work visa that permits you to stay and work in the country. In the COVID age, you'll also need to think about vaccinations and testing.

In addition, you should consider the cultural and language differences.

How Do You Find International Travel Nursing Jobs?

You can secure employment via a travel nurse agency. They will provide you with the assignments and answer any questions you have relating to the job. Before signing with a travel nursing agency, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • How is your pay package structured?
  • Will you be providing me with a housing stipend or will I be given free housing?
  • Will I be getting paid for vacation time?
  • Will travel health insurance be included in the pay package?
  • Can I cancel my contract if I am not happy with the employer or the location?
  • How much free time will I have between nursing assignments?
  • Which countries do you serve and where am I most likely to find employment?
  • How often will I be paid and in what currency?
  • Are there any bonuses for agreeing to an assignment and finishing an assignment?
  • What expenses will be covered, and are there any limits that I need to know about?

Where Do International Travel Nurses Work?

As an international travel nurse, you could be hired to work in a variety of healthcare settings for a number of reasons:

  • Hospitals : Travel nurses with the experience and qualifications to work in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the Emergency Room (ER) are some of the most in-demand. These areas require a great deal of skill, composure, and experience. They are stressful and can struggle during times of crisis, as seen during the height of the COVID pandemic.
  • Doctor's Offices: A nurse working in a doctor's office must be a good communicator and have a solid patient rapport. They will also be asked to perform assessments, administer medication, and assist with minor procedures.
  • Outpatient Care Facilities: Nurses working in outpatient facilities are tasked with performing an array of duties, including triage, patient education, administering IVs, and performing assessments.

Where Should You Work as an International Travel Nurse?

International travel nurse jobs vary, and you'll ultimately be sent where you are needed the most. However, the following lists may give you an idea of where you can—and perhaps will—work.

Countries with the Most Registered Nurses

The following countries have some of the most registered nurses in the world. They also tend to be the countries with the highest healthcare rankings, as well as the ones often voted as the best places to live. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that there will be a sudden need for international nurses in these locations:

Countries with the Least Registered Nurses

The following nations are some of the most deprived in the world and have very low numbers of registered nurses. You could find yourself working in one of these countries during your career as an international travel nurse.

Top Paying Countries for International Travel Nurses

Although the countries in the table above all need nurses, they are also some of the poorest in the world and it's unlikely that you will make a lot of money working there. However, the same can't be said for the following countries. A registered nurse assisting with international nursing shortages can stand to make a lot of money in these countries.

How Much do International Travel Nurses Make?

The average salary for registered nurses is around $73,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , and it all depends on where your assignments are and how much experience you have.

Generally speaking, though, travel nurses may make more than nurses working in similar permanent positions.

As an international travel nurse, you will also be paid reimbursements and stipends, ensuring you don't have any significant out-of-pocket housing and travel expenses.

How To Succeed as a Travel Nurse Abroad

To maximize your rewards and comfort while working international travel nursing jobs, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Arrive Early

The best way to reduce the inevitable stress of international travel nursing is to arrive at your destination early and take some time to settle in.

Spend time in the local area, arrange your transportation, and prepare your home. Make sure you know where the local grocery store, pharmacy, parks, coffee shops, and other essentials are and get used to the different way of life.

2. Check the Local Laws

Making assumptions about local laws could have serious consequences.

You probably know, for instance, that cannabis laws are much stricter in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe than they are in the United States. What you might not know is many countries take a hard line against drugs that are commonly available in the United States.

In Greece, for instance, opiates are rarely prescribed and you could find yourself in serious hot water if you carry them into the country.

Alcohol is also banned in a number of countries, and some nations have much stricter laws on cigarettes than others.

To avoid any problems at the border, do your homework in advance and discover what you can and can't do in your destination country.

3. Learn the Language

English is spoken all over the world, but in many of those countries, it's a second or third language and you can't expect everyone to understand you. If you want to assimilate yourself into the country and its culture, you must learn the language.

It sounds like a tough challenge, and it is, but you're not trying to gain complete fluency. A basic comprehension should suffice, and that will take you much less time.

Understanding basic instructions and everyday conversations will make a massive difference, ensuring you don't feel left out and won't be frustrated when trying to communicate with patients and colleagues who don't speak English.

4. Pack Light

Check the local climate, consider what you will need and what you won't need, and pack as lightly as you can.

You're not going for a 1-week or 2-week vacation, and you will have access to washing machines. You'll also be spending some time in the country and will be making a lot of money, so packing light is a good excuse to buy some clothes and other essentials when you arrive.

5. Take Someone With You

Travel nursing jobs are much less daunting if you have someone else with you. Take your partner along or look into quarantine rules to see if you can take a pet. It will make your assignment more bearable and keep that homesickness at bay.

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Becoming an International Travel Nurse – Career Guide

October 23, 2012 

what is an international travel nurse

If you enjoy travel and are passionate about helping people, you may consider a career in international nursing. In many parts of the world, skilled professional nurses are in high demand.

What to Expect

A career in international nursing is best suited to individuals who are independent, compassionate, and ready for a challenge. Your duties will vary on a daily basis, but will involve providing health care and attention to people from all over the world. You’ll take medical histories and other important information, administer treatments and medication, educate patients on their illnesses and conditions, and provide guidance for them to live healthier lives.  Common destinations for international nursing  include Australia, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia.

Requirements

After becoming a Registered Nurse (RN), you can begin working in a number of settings, including a hospital, physician’s office, or outpatient clinic. Some travel nursing companies will require that you have a few years of experience in a specified field before you begin.  Advanced practice nurses , such as CRNAs and nurse-midwives, are also able to apply for international travel opportunities.

The international nursing organization that helps place you will require specific paperwork in order to set your assignments, including:

  • A valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Copies of your nursing license 
  • Copies of your certifications (RN, BLS, ACLS, PALS, NRP, etc.)
  • Proof of additional immunizations (depending on area of travel)
  • Current TB skin test, valid fit test results and other essential information

International Requirements

Each country has different requirements for nursing abroad. The  International Council of Nurses  can provide more information about regulations and programs in various countries.

Many nurses thrive on the chance to serve international communities. Additionally, nurses will be exposed to different approaches to treatment and nursing, depending on the culture.

International nursing provides the opportunity for nurses to work in hospital, clinic, or physician office settings and is sure to provide unique experiences that may not have been available otherwise.

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All of Your Questions About International Travel Nursing Jobs Answered Here

by Trusted Nurse Staffing | Mar 1, 2021 | News | 0 comments

international travel nursing

Note: Trusted Nurse Staffing does not offer international travel nursing contracts

Is it possible to see the world while doing the job you love?  

For those who love nursing and love travel, the answer is a resounding “yes” .

Travel nurse positions are not only available domestically but also internationally.

But before you jump on a plane to your desired destination and nursing assignment, you’ve got questions about:

  • Where you can go
  • How much you can make
  • How to prepare

We’ll fill you in on all these details and more as you consider a travel nurse position abroad.

Table of Contents

Can travel nurses work internationally, where are international travel nurses needed the most, how much do international travel nurses make, what are the educational and licensing requirements for travel nursing jobs abroad, 10 questions to ask the agency before applying for international travel nursing agencies online, 5 tips for international travel nurses, not quite ready for international travel nursing find amazing domestic travel nurse positions with trusted nurse staffing.

rn international travel jobs

Yes, international travel nursing opportunities are numerous and varied. Not only are there nursing shortages in the United States, but many countries across the world experience these same shortages. 

These medical personnel shortages are especially common in countries with disease outbreaks or natural disasters.

RN international travel jobs not only allow you to experience other countries and cultures, but you’ll also be able to expand your nursing skills, learn new medical techniques, and further develop language and communication skills.

How Do I Become an International Travel Nurse?

Becoming a travel nurse internationally is much like becoming a travel nurse domestically. In addition to being a licensed nurse in the U.S., you may need special certifications to meet other requirements of the country you want to work in.

Each country is different in its specifications, so if international RN travel jobs intrigue you, spending some time researching the options and requirements will help you know what’s needed or what you may need to acquire before you apply for a position.

If you are new to travel nursing, we recommend taking at least one or two domestic assignments first before you commit to nursing overseas.  

Getting some experience working in different facilities across the country will help you get your feet wet before you step into jobs in other countries that may come with extra stressors like:

  • A new culture
  • A new climat
  • A new language
  • Different techniques and facilities

Trusted Nurse Staffing has qualified and experienced recruiters with the know-how to connect you to your desired domestic assignment.

Not only that, Trusted Nurse Staffing will help you look for exciting assignments with job security and benefits while giving you the personal attention you’re looking for.

Click here to find out how to get started.

Pronto-CTA

Since travel nurses are needed almost everywhere, international travel nursing jobs are available in countries across the world. 

Some of the countries with the greatest need for travel nurses include:

  • New Zealand
  • The Middle East

This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Many other countries are also in need.

The World Health Organization published a report entitled The State of the World’s Nursing 2020 which reported a “ global (nurse) shortfall of 5.9 trillion .” 

This report listed areas with immense need like:

  • South East Asia
  • Latin America

No matter the location, working as a travel nurse internationally is certain to provide experience:

  • With patients of different ages.
  • In a variety of conditions.
  • With a variety of diseases.
  • In different types of hospitals — from low-income to state-of-the-art medical facilities.

What Nursing Specialties Are Needed Abroad?

Nursing specialties of all kinds are needed abroad, but the most sought after specialties include:

  • Emergency room
  • Operating room
  • Medical/surgical
  • Intensive care
  • Pediatric care
  • Cardiac care
  • Labor and delivery

How Long Are International Travel Nurse Assignments?

Travel nurse assignments differ depending on location and assignment, but most international travel nurse assignments last for one to two years .

Some international travel nurse assignments may also come with time off between assignments. In places like the Middle East, it’s not uncommon to get an assignment where the facility covers the cost of the nurse’s travel home between the first and second year.

If you’re not quite ready to jump into a long-term assignment overseas, maybe a short-term volunteer assignment will help you get your feet wet.  

Volunteer nursing positions are available through many non-profit organizations, and the duration of the assignments is much shorter — usually 3-6 weeks .

Of course, there is no payment for volunteer positions, but it may be a great way to experience an international assignment before you sign a longer-term contract.

Most international travel nurses make an hourly wage, but how much an international travel nurse makes may be dependent on several factors like:

  • The location of the assignment
  • The type of assignment
  • The nurse’s qualifications or specialty certifications

Many overseas assignments pay less than the same job in the United States, but they may come with other benefits that offset the lower salary.  

Some of these benefits may include things like:

  • Housing and food stipends
  • Paid time off

Another thing to remember is that the cost of living is lower in many other countries. When you consider the lower cost of living, the lower salary may be comparable to a nursing position in the States. 

Taxes also can play a large role when considering the bottom line. Whether you will need to pay taxes or not depends on the country and the assignment. In places like the Middle East, it’s common to have tax-free assignments.

Along with many other details, international travel nurses will need to verify pay deduction and tax requirements with the agency they work with.

Which Countries Pay the Most for International Travel Nurses?

In general, the highest paying international travel nurse jobs are found in European countries.  

The following European countries pay the highest travel nurse salaries:

  • The Netherlands

Europe offers the highest paying jobs because of the way compensation packages may be structured, but other high paying jobs can be found in other places like:

  • The Virgin Islands

The pay in many of these locations ranges from $22,000 to $125,000 per year. In addition, some of the jobs in these locations offer exemplary benefits in top-notch facilities.

international travel nursing opportunities

Do International Travel Nursing Jobs Have the Same Benefits, Stipends, and Travel Allowances as Domestic Travel Nurse Jobs?

Of course, all of the specifics will vary depending on the agency, country, and assignment, but most international travel nurse assignments come with some sort of benefits package. 

Going over all of the details with travel nursing abroad agencies is the only way to know the full extent of the benefits.

Many international travel nurse jobs come with similar benefits as those found in the U.S. like:

  • Health insurance
  • Paid licensing fees
  • Travel to the assignment location

Time off between assignments may also be an attractive incentive, but it’s important to check the details. Caps may be set on time off, and these benefits can be lost if the time off is extended beyond the allotted time.

It’s extremely important for international travel nurses to understand exactly what is being offered in terms of benefits, stipends, and allowances. Getting everything in writing is a must.

If you want to compare international pay and benefits to those of domestic assignments, it would be worthwhile to take a look at Trusted Nurse Staffing. 

Trusted Nurse Staffing offers top pay and benefits for domestic assignments.

Many travel nurse jobs are available abroad for LPNs, RNs, and APRNs .

Regardless of your level of training, international travel nurses may need to  

  • Have a degree from an accredited school. 
  • Be in good standing. 
  • Meet any of the country’s specific licensing requirements.
  • Pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination).
  • Pass any exams necessary for a specialty.
  • Have one year of experience in a specialty area.

In addition to these educational and licensing requirements, there are several other travel specifications and documents that might be necessary, including:

  • Work permit
  • Sponsorship letters
  • Birth certificate
  • Immunization certificate

Lastly, language tests may be a requirement — even if you are traveling to an English-speaking country like Britain, Canada, or Australia.

Without a doubt, a travel nurse agency will give you a vast amount of information about international travel nursing on their website or in an initial interview. Thorough knowledge is key, so here are some important questions to ask the agency before you apply:

  • Is travel health insurance part of the compensation package?
  • Do you get paid vacation time and when?
  • How often and in what currency will you be paid?
  • Can you terminate your contract early if you’re not happy with the location?
  • What locations do you serve?
  • How is your pay package structured?
  • Do you provide free housing or a housing stipend?
  • Are there any signing incentives or end-of-assignment bonuses?
  • How much time can I take off between assignments?
  • Do you cover travel expenses to the travel location?

international travel nursing

An assignment as an overseas travel nurse can be both rewarding and challenging . Stepping into a new culture, experiencing new food, missing family and friends, and starting a new job can all be formidable.

If you have never experienced travel nursing abroad, consider these tips as you prepare for your overseas assignment.

 #1 The Buddy System

Traveling alone to a new country and culture can bring about loneliness and homesickness. Bringing a spouse or partner or asking a nursing friend to apply with you are great ways to combat these difficult emotions. 

Bringing a pet may also be a possibilit y. 

You will need to keep in mind that each country has its own regulations for bringing in animals . Permits and health evaluations may be necessary, and sometimes pets need to be quarantined for a period of time once they arrive in the country. All of this can be quite costly.

#2 Give Yourself Time to Settle In

Arrive a few weeks early so you can get accustomed to your new city. 

You’ll want to use this time to:

  • Get settled into your home
  • Organize your transportation
  • Figure out your route to your work location
  • Get familiar with the city (find the grocery store, pharmacy, parks, etc.)

#3 Learn the Language

If you are considering a country where the first language is not English, it may be necessary to learn the native tongue.  

Even if you find an assignment in one of these countries, and they don’t require you to speak the language, it would still be incredibly beneficial to be able to speak the language conversationally for everyday interactions.

#4 Pack Light

You don’t need to bring the kitchen sink.

When packing to head to your overseas assignment, bring as little as possible .

Big items like furniture and household items will most likely be provided for you, so all you’ll need to bring is clothing and personal belongings and maybe a special item to remind you of home.

#5 Request an Orientation of the Medical Facility

A final item to consider when planning on how to travel nurse abroad is to visit the medical facility where you’ll be working. 

Rather than jumping in cold, request to have a tour of the facility/ward before your first day. Ask as many questions as you can about the expectations and daily responsibilities . 

Maybe you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge and jump into an overseas assignment.

There are plenty of domestic travel nurse assignments available, and these types of assignments can be a fabulous way to prepare you for a longer assignment farther away.

And you’ll still have the opportunity to visit some areas of your own country that are new to you while you get the chance to use and develop your nursing skills.

Trusted Nurse Staffing offers:

  • Choice of assignment
  • Outstanding pay 
  • Excellent benefits
  • Flexible contracts that range from 8 to 52 weeks.

With the personal attention of one of our recruiters, Trusted Nurse Staffing can help you find your dream job in your desired location.

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what is an international travel nurse

Career Advice > Professional Development > Career Paths > Is International Travel Nursing Right for You?

Is International Travel Nursing Right for You?

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Are you a nurse with a sense of adventure, looking to broaden your horizons and make a positive impact on healthcare on a global scale? International travel nursing offers a unique and rewarding career opportunity for registered nurses (RNs) to travel to different countries to work temporarily in healthcare facilities. But before you pack your bags and embark on this journey, it’s essential to consider if this career path is the right fit for you.

If you’re thinking of joining the ranks of international travel nurses, this article is for you. We’ll explore all the ins and outs of this exciting profession, covering how to get started, top destinations, salaries, and pros and cons.

What Is International Travel Nursing?

An international travel nurse is a healthcare professional who embarks on short-term assignments in healthcare facilities outside of their home country. Similar to domestic travel nurses , they may be hired on a contract basis by travel nursing agencies to fill urgent staffing needs in medical facilities.

International travel nursing agencies link nurses with global assignments tailored to their preferences and skills, as well as a facility’s needs. Alternatively, some nurses choose to seek jobs abroad independently by networking, applying directly to hospitals, or using online job platforms.

Where Do International Travel Nurses Work?

International travel nursing jobs can be found in various countries. Yet, certain destinations stand out for U.S. nurses. Here are some top picks to consider.

  • New Zealand
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom

Another way to work internationally as a nurse is to get employed in an organization that has international roles for nurses, such as:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • International Health Organization (IHO)
  • International Medical Corps (IMC)
  • Nurses Beyond Borders (NBB)
  • Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)

How to Become an International Travel Nurse

Becoming an international travel nurse can be a rewarding career path. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how U.S. nurses can become international travel nurses:

1. Earn a Nursing Degree

The fastest way to become a nurse is to earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN). For a more comprehensive education, you can choose to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, which may be preferable for international work.

2. Obtain Nursing Licensure

To become an RN, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) and submit all required documentation to your state’s board of nursing .

3. Gain Experience

Next, gain some solid nursing experience. You can choose to focus on one specialty or explore various fields to gain a diverse set of skills, preparing you to work in different healthcare settings. Some options include:

  • Psychiatric
  • Medical-surgical

Some nursing specialties might give you the opportunity to travel abroad right away, such as:

  • Infection control nursing
  • Military nursing

4. Get Certified

If you want to boost your credibility and upgrade your skill set, you can choose to pursue certification. Consider getting specialty-specific certification if you plan to focus on a particular patient population. Another good option to consider is the Transcultural Nursing Certification (TNC), since you’ll be working with people with diverse cultural backgrounds .

5. Pick a Country

Keep in mind, international travel nursing requirements vary by country. Much like getting a license endorsement in another state, it can involve lots of paperwork. Here are some top global destinations and their requirements:

  • Saudi Arabia

6. Research Agencies

There are several agencies that specialize in placing nurses in international assignments. Research and compare these agencies to find the right match for your goals. Look for agencies with a good reputation, transparent contract terms , and strong support services for their nurses, including helping out if you have any issues while traveling internationally.

The number of U.S.-based international travel nursing programs is limited, so it might be easier to find such an agency in the country you choose. Here are a few international travel nursing agencies to get you started with your research:

  • Dynamic Health Staff , International
  • Global Placement , International
  • HCA Healthcare , Australia
  • Helen Ziegler and Associates , Arabian Peninsula
  • Horizon Health Network , Canada
  • Medacs Global Group , United Kingdom
  • Monarch , Germany
  • Stafford Recruitment , New Zealand

7. Apply for a Visa and a Job

To work abroad, you’ll need to apply for both a job and a visa. Whether you’re applying through an agency or directly to a healthcare institution, you’ll need a solid travel nurse resume . Additionally, for the visa application, common documents requested include:

  • Valid passport
  • Nursing license
  • Proof of certifications and qualifications
  • Employment offer
  • Medical examination
  • Immunization record
  • Background check
  • Proof of language proficiency
  • Visa application form
  • Proof of financial means

The Pros and Cons of International Nursing

Being a nurse who travels internationally comes with its own set of unique challenges and rewards. Here are some pros and cons associated with this profession:

Pros of international nursing:

  • Adventure and travel: You’ll get to travel, explore new places, and experience different lifestyles while earning a living.
  • Professional growth: Working abroad offers chances to learn new medical techniques and develop nursing skills.
  • Cultural immersion: Nurses can explore different cultures, customs, and healthcare practices, broadening their understanding of culturally congruent care .
  • Good pay: International nurses often enjoy higher pay, tax benefits, housing allowances, and other perks.
  • Personal development: Living and working abroad helps nurses grow personally and gain confidence and independence.
  • Networking: Nurses can build a global network of professional contacts, opening doors for future opportunities.

Cons of international nursing:

  • Licensing challenges: Getting licensed in foreign countries can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Legal and ethical differences: Nurses working abroad may encounter differences in legal and ethical standards , as well as unfamiliar healthcare practices, which could be challenging.
  • Language barrier: Communicating in foreign countries can be tough due to language differences, leading to stress.
  • Cultural adjustment: Adapting to new cultures and healthcare systems can be stressful.
  • Job security: Contracts are usually short term, which can lead to uncertainty about future assignments.
  • Family separation: Being away from family can strain relationships and cause feelings of isolation.

International Travel Nursing Salary

The typical travel nursing salary in the U.S. is about $100,700 per year. It’s important to understand that when traveling internationally, your international nurse salary will largely depend on which country you are visiting. Here are some examples:

  • Australia: $123,402 (AUD) per year
  • Canada: $106,104 (CAD) per year
  • New Zealand: $107,563 (NZD) per year
  • Germany: €68,395 (EUR) per year
  • United Arab Emirates: 227,592 (AED) per year
  • United Kingdom: £56,340 (GBP) per year

International Travel Nurse: Frequently Asked Questions

Can travel nurses work internationally.

Yes, travel nurses can work internationally, but the process typically involves additional steps, such as applying for a nursing license in the country of destination and obtaining the necessary work visa or permits.

How long are international assignments?

International assignments can vary in duration, but they may range from a few weeks to several months. However, due to the tedious process of visa application and obtaining a license in a new country, these contracts tend to be longer than typical domestic travel nursing contracts.

What are living arrangements like during assignments?

Living arrangements during international assignments can vary depending on the specific assignment and location. Some nurses might get housing from their employer or receive an allowance to find their own place. In some cases, the housing may not be provided.

Will I be responsible for visa and flight fees?

In many cases, the agency will cover certain expenses, such as flight and visa fees, but that largely depends on the specifics of your contract.

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What to Know About Working as an International Travel Nurse

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  • International Travel Nursing Explained
  • Global Demand
  • International Travel Nurse Salary
  • International Travel Nurse Benefits
  • How To Become

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what is an international travel nurse

As countries across the world experience nursing shortages, international nursing job opportunities will continue to expand. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), one in eight nurses finds employment in a country other than the one where they were born or received training. The field of international travel nursing provides opportunities for nurses to see the world while using their training to help others.

If you are a current or aspiring nurse, international travel nursing can offer you competitive salaries and benefits working in a variety of clinical experiences with diverse populations. Learn more about international travel nursing, how to prepare for and find jobs, and what countries offer the highest pay.

International Travel Nursing At a Glance

What is international travel nursing.

Registered nurses (RNs) from various clinical backgrounds and specialties can find well-paid positions as international travel nurses in settings throughout the world. Rather than apply directly to overseas medical facilities, they find placements by working with recruiters from independent staffing agencies.

The recruiter finds the best placement based on skills, prior work experience, and preferred destinations. Once the nurse agrees to commit to the placement, the agency arranges the salary and benefits package. Depending on the contract, benefits include housing stipends, direct deposit and currency transfer fees, referral bonuses, meal or travel reimbursements, and paid time off.

While travel nurses working in the U.S. usually take assignments that last six months or less, international travel nursing jobs require longer commitments. International nursing jobs in Europe and Australia require nurses to work at least a year. Nurses placed in Middle Eastern countries often take contracts that last a minimum of two years.

Several organizations, including the Red Cross, United Planet, Project Hope, and International Volunteer HQ, offer volunteer opportunities in international nursing . While these travel nurses do not earn a salary, they gain valuable experience while providing essential healthcare services to people who may not otherwise have access. These international nursing volunteers take on crucial roles during public health emergencies and natural disasters as part of medical relief teams.

The duties of an international travel nurse are as varied as the destinations where they work. They provide services to patient populations from infancy through old age. Depending on the setting, they may have the same responsibilities as American RNs e.g., performing tests, administering medications and vaccinations, monitoring vital signs, and compiling reports.

Because international nurses work in an array of environments, from well-equipped modern hospital facilities to rudimentary clinics in underserved, remote communities, their responsibilities depend on the needs of the patients in these settings. Those who work in emergency or epidemic situations must adjust to rapidly changing and stressful conditions.

Work Environment

International travel nurses will find employment anywhere experiencing nursing shortages. These nurses work in urban and rural areas, in hospitals, doctors’ offices, outpatient care centers, and community clinics. Nurses with surgical, intensive care, emergency room, and labor and delivery specialties are in particularly high demand. Staffing agencies work with nurses to find placements that best fit their training and interests.

Which Countries Need International Travel Nurses?

Nursing shortages are a global phenomenon. According to the WHO’s 2020 State of the World’s Nursing Report , nurses make up the largest occupational group in the healthcare industry, accounting for 59% of all health professionals. The global nursing shortfall had grown to almost six million, even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These shortages have been driven by several trends, including the decline in the number of nurses entering the profession, retirements, and increasing demands for healthcare from the growing world population.

The opportunities for U.S. trained nurses to work overseas have never been better. International nursing jobs run the gamut from well-paying clinical positions at state-of-the-art facilities in modern urban areas to remote clinics or refugee camps in developing nations.

Low and lower middle-income countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean region, and parts of Latin America experience the most severe nursing shortages. Among the more affluent nations, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates face the highest need for nurses.

How Much Do International Travel Nurses Make?

While international travel nurses typically earn more than full-time RN staff, salary ranges vary significantly based on education and skill levels, specialties, years of experience, and placement location. According to the online employment service ZipRecruiter , the majority of international travel nurses earn between $60,500 and $106,000. Each travel nurse agency handles compensation differently. Some offer housing and travel benefits as part of the contract while others provide nurses with stipends to make their own arrangements.

RNs should consider several factors when searching for international travel nurse jobs. While some countries may not match U.S. salary levels, they offer a lower cost of living, making essentials like housing, food, and utilities more affordable. Middle Eastern nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offer the most attractive compensation packages that include tax-free salaries, free air travel, free furnished housing, and 30-day annual vacations.

The Benefits of Becoming an International Travel Nurse

RNs choose international travel nursing for several reasons, including the chance to travel the world, earn top salaries, expand their careers, or serve others in high-need regions. International travel nurses often cite these professional and personal benefits:

How To Become an International Travel Nurse

International travel nurses follow the same educational pathway as nurses preparing for careers as staff RNs in the U.S. Although each country or employer may have specific requirements for a preferred degree, specialty area, and years of experience, travel agencies typically recruit nurses who hold an undergraduate nursing degree and have passed the NCLEX-RN examination.

While licensed practical nurses and RNs with an associate degree may find international positions, most travel agencies represent overseas employers who strongly prefer BSN degree-holders with a valid RN license. Nurses should also have certification in Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Most agencies require applicants who have completed at least one year of clinical experience .

While not required for all international nursing jobs, specialized certifications in high-demand areas such as labor and delivery, intensive care, and emergency medicine may lead to better-paid placements.

Working as an International Travel Nurse

​​In addition to completing a nursing degree and obtaining a valid RN license, international travel nurses will need to acquire additional credentials to work abroad.

Nurses need to have a valid passport and work with their travel agency to find out about work permits, visas, and other forms of sponsorship required by the country where they intend to work. Overseas employers may request birth certificates, immunization records, criminal background checks, and transcripts that verify educational qualifications. Gathering the necessary documentation may take several months.

Nurses must have a basic knowledge of a country’s language to provide patient care and communicate with staff. Most placements require international travel nurses to demonstrate a working knowledge or conversational ability in the country’s primary language.

Some employers may require nurses to take a test to verify their language ability. Many English-speaking countries like Canada and the United Kingdom require work visa applicants to take an English-language test to demonstrate their fluency, even if English is their native tongue.

English-speaking travel nurses sometimes get around the language barriers by restricting their employment choices to English-speaking countries or international healthcare organizations that have adopted English as their official language. Certain facilities in the Middle East, for example, require English as the work language for all staff and for all medical documentation.

International travel nursing jobs can offer tremendous personal, professional, and financial rewards, but the process requires research and planning. The most successful international travel nurses have invested the time to learn as much as possible about qualifications, how to choose a travel agency, and what to expect when working abroad.

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC, is a nursing professional with nearly 20 years of varied nursing experience. Gleason currently teaches as an assistant professor of nursing within a prelicensure nursing program and coaches graduate students. Her passion and area of research centers around coaching nurses and nursing students to build resilience and avoid burnout.

Gleason is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners here .

Page last reviewed November 8, 2021

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  1. What to Know About Working as an International Travel Nurse

    While travel nurses working in the U.S. usually take assignments that last six months or less, international travel nursing jobs require longer commitments. International nursing jobs in Europe and Australia require nurses to work at least a year. Nurses placed in Middle Eastern countries often take contracts that last a minimum of two years.

  2. How To Become an International Travel Nurse

    International travel nursing is a professional opportunity for nurses that involves temporarily living in another country and working in a direct patient care role in that area. International travel nurses work in hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices and other medical facilities, collaborating with other medical professionals, treating patients ...

  3. Become an International Travel Nurse

    An international travel nurse is a registered nurse who works in various healthcare settings around the world on a temporary basis. International travel nurses typically sign contracts for a specified period of time, often filling in for local nurses during peak times, covering staff shortages, or assisting with special projects or events.

  4. How to Become an International Travel Nurse

    Becoming an international travel nurse is a rewarding and exciting career path that offers the opportunity to combine nursing with exploration, cultural immersion and professional growth. International travel nurses work in various healthcare settings around the world, helping to fill critical staffing gaps and gaining valuable experiences.

  5. International Travel Nursing (Nursing Abroad Career Guide)

    While travel nursing assignments in the U.S. typically last between eight and 26 weeks, nursing jobs abroad are often longer. You'll likely work for at least a year in destinations like Australia and Europe, while it's common to commit to at least two years while working in the Middle East. If you're curious about international travel ...

  6. What is Travel Nursing?

    International travel nurses should speak the language of the country they are to practice in, as communication is an important part of effective healthcare delivery. Nurses are encouraged to research agencies when considering travel nursing.

  7. What is a Travel Nurse? Everything You Need to Know

    Final Thoughts on Travel Nursing. Becoming a travel nurse is a thrilling journey that promises adventure, personal growth, and unique experiences. From education and licensure to acquiring experience and embracing essential attributes, travel nurses embark on a profession that combines professionalism with exploration.

  8. How to Become an International Travel Nurse

    1. Travel With A Partner. A fellow nurse or your significant other that can be there for you is an irreplaceable privilege. Consider bringing someone along if you can. 2. Arrive Before Your Assignment. While travel nursing assignments in the U.S. last between eight and 26 weeks, international nursing jobs are often longer, so give yourself time ...

  9. The Ultimate Guide to International Travel Nursing

    International travel nursing is a career choice for nurses that entails living in another country and working in direct patient care. International travel nurses collaborate with other medical professionals in hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices, and other medical institutions, treating patients and promoting good healthcare in that area.

  10. International Travel Nursing: FAQs

    Most domestic travel nursing assignments last between eight and 26 weeks, but international travel nursing assignments are much longer. Many travel nurses commit to at least a year in places like Australia and Europe, and two years in the Middle East. Travel nursing abroad is a big commitment and should not be taken lightly.

  11. International Travel Nursing: Nursing Specialties Breakdown

    International travel nurses can make a substantial amount of money, much more than that of a local travel nurse. International travel RNs make an average of $124,382 annually. Salaries can vary based on experience level, specialty, location, and living arrangement. Landing international positions requires preparation, patience, and determination.

  12. What To Expect As An International Travel Nurse ...

    Working in the US as an international travel nurse could potentially bring a higher salary, extensive career growth, and many other amazing benefits. It will be a lot to learn at first, but the autonomy included with working in the US as a valued medical professional is so worthwhile and fulfilling. Since the American healthcare system might ...

  13. How to Become a Travel Nurse

    The baseline steps to becoming a travel nurse are the same as those for other nursing career paths. Travel nurses must be registered nurses (RNs), which means completing a nurse training program, passing the NCLEX-RN exam, and applying for licensure. In addition, most nurse staffing agencies require a minimum amount of clinical experience, so ...

  14. International Travel Nursing: How to Work Abroad as a Nurse

    International travel nursing provides professionals with unique opportunities to explore the world, learn new care techniques, and expand their knowledge. More importantly, the work of these nursing professionals makes the delivery of quality patient care possible. This level of care can have a positive impact on other people's lives, making ...

  15. How To Become An International Travel Nurse

    As an international travel nurse, you will also be paid reimbursements and stipends, ensuring you don't have any significant out-of-pocket housing and travel expenses. How To Succeed as a Travel Nurse Abroad. To maximize your rewards and comfort while working international travel nursing jobs, keep the following tips in mind: ...

  16. Becoming an International Travel Nurse

    Advanced practice nurses, such as CRNAs and nurse-midwives, are also able to apply for international travel opportunities. The international nursing organization that helps place you will require specific paperwork in order to set your assignments, including: A valid passport. Birth certificate. Copies of your nursing license.

  17. What Is an International Travel Nurse and How to Become One

    How to Become an International Travel Nurse. The primary qualifications for becoming an international travel nurse are functionally identical to the requirements for becoming any other kind of nurse: graduating from a nursing program and passing the national exam. If you plan to work overseas, you may need to register with the local government ...

  18. International Travel Nursing Opportunities

    International travel nursing gives nurses the opportunity to travel the globe while working and providing care to patients in need. If you have ever considered traveling internationally as a nurse, keep reading to learn how to get started. Keep in mind that OneStaff Medical does not offer international travel nursing contracts.

  19. Interested In International Travel Nursing Jobs?

    Many travel nurse jobs are available abroad for LPNs, RNs, and APRNs. Regardless of your level of training, international travel nurses may need to. Have a degree from an accredited school. Be in good standing. Meet any of the country's specific licensing requirements.

  20. Is International Travel Nursing Right for You?

    Here's a step-by-step guide on how U.S. nurses can become international travel nurses: 1. Earn a Nursing Degree. The fastest way to become a nurse is to earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN). For a more comprehensive education, you can choose to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, which may be preferable for ...

  21. What to Know About Working as an International Travel Nurse

    If you love traveling and want to become a nurse, consider the growing field of international travel nursing. Choose from many well-paying positions in a variety of destinations all over the world. If you love traveling and want to become a nurse, consider the growing field of international travel nursing. ...

  22. Per Diem Nursing vs. Travel Nursing

    Defining the Adventure of Travel Nursing . Travel nursing, by contrast, is a wanderlust profession. Travel nurses accept temporary assignments across different states or countries, filling in the staff shortages within healthcare facilities. It is an exciting career option for those who seek financial benefits and a sense of adventure. Weighing ...

  23. Back to Black (2024)

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