Travelers Stories: What Do Hospitals Look for in a Travel Nurse

January 26, 2012

By Don Andrisani, Senior Hospital Account Manager

Even though there is a nursing shortage, hospitals aren’t just going to take any Travel Nurse that comes around. They are looking for certain characteristics in each Travel RN they interview. When they interview a Registered Nurse they are looking for someone that is honest about their skills and experiences.

When a hospital reaches out to one of their contracted agencies to provide them with some Travel nurses, quite often, they have a laundry list of items that they are looking for in the temporary employee rather it be a Traveler, per diem nurse or registry nurse.  Some of these are skill related, however, and more often than not, hospitals are looking more for the right fit within the team, more than anything else.  They look for the Registered Nurse that can come in, perform their job as expected, but also get along really well with the existing team of nurses that are already in place on that unit.

Hospitals are looking for a Travel nurse that is going to come in and make a difference on the floor. Someone with at least two years of prior experience and six months of current experience in the unit they will be working in, and travel experience is a real plus. The more experience the Registered Nurse (RN Traveler) has, the better chance of getting the assignment.

Hospitals and their staff already expect that the Travel RN will be highly skilled and certified in specific area’s that the unit requires.  Emergency Room Travel Nurses usually need TNCC in addition to BLS, and ACLS.  Labor and Delivery Travel Registered Nurses are required to have NRP and in some cases, AWOHNN.  Ideally, they would like a RN that come into a unit on a Travel Nurse Job, requiring little or no training, and more or less hit the ground running with regards to patient care.  They look for RN’s who are focused on taking care of their patients, performing the duties asked of them, and not get involved to much in the internal “politics” of that hospital.  Initially, a hospital might have a list of the potential wishes for the position that is 15 and 16 items long. However, 9 times out of 10, they are willing to forego some of the items on that initial list—classifying them more as a plus, as opposed to a must, and go with the Travel RN that is someone who would fit into their culture.

Also, Good references are important too. Hospitals need to be able to verify that the Registered Nurses skills are check adequate for the job they need to fill. The hospital wants a Registered Nurse whose primary goal is to provide good care for the patient, and they need to make sure the nurse will be able to do that without negatively affecting the existing staff.