Travel nursing is a nursing assignment concept that developed in response to the nursing shortage. Reasons cited for pursuing travel nursing opportunities include higher pay, professional growth and development, and personal adventure recruitment agencies act as intermediaries between the traveler and hospitals. A travel nurse may receive a minimal orientation to the new hospital (and rarely no orientation at all). Travel nurses are expected to be very experienced and knowledgeable in the given specialty.
If the nurse's home state has joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), the nurse can work in any other compact state as long as the home state license is in good standing, and the permanent residence is in a compact state. This facilitates the license reciprocity process and potentially speeds up the time to employment. There are currently 25 states participating in NLC. These states include: - Idaho - Utah - Arizona - Colorado - New Mexico - Texas - North Dakota - South Dakota - Nebraska - Iowa - Missouri - Arkansas - Wisconsin - Mississippi - Kentucky - Tennessee - South Carolina - North Carolina - Virginia - Maryland - Delaware - Rhode Island - Maine – Montana
Travelers typically work under a short-term contract. In the United States, these contracts typically range from 4 to 13 weeks, although 26-week assignments are also possible, and some travel nurses will accept back-to-back assignments from the same facility. Contracts outside of the U.S. can last 1–2 years. Frequently, a permanent position is offered by the hospital at the end of the contract. Travel nurses are paid by the travel nursing agency that placed them, which in turn is paid by the hospital. Variables that affect pay include the location of the assignment (vacation destinations tend to be more competitive and therefore able to find willing applicants for less), demand for the position, local cost of living and the type of nursing specialty being sought.