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7 Steps to Start a Career in International Travel Nursing

There is an abundance of nurses in the United States. Around the world, though, some countries are experiencing a shortage. 

In fact, 50 percent of the World Health Organization states have less than three nurses per 1,000 people. Twenty-five percent also report having less than one nurse per 1,000 people.

If you’re interested in pursuing a nursing degree but want to feel that you’re making a significant impact on the world, you might want to consider a career in international travel nursing.

Read on to learn more about international travel nursing and how you can start pursuing this exciting career path.

What Is International Travel Nursing?

International travel nurses — you guessed it — travel overseas to various countries and provide nursing services, usually in areas where there is a nursing shortage.

International travel nurses often address temporary, emergency situations like disease outbreaks or an increased need for medical care after a natural disaster.

Travel nurses might also work to train new employees to help permanently address nursing shortages. They also provide training to the family members and loved ones of patients so they can provide proper aftercare.

Why Become an International Travel Nurse?

There are lots of benefits that come with working as an international travel nurse, including the following:

  • You get to see exciting parts of the world that you’d never get to see otherwise
  • You get to enjoy the benefits of a medical career without having to dedicate years of your life to medical school
  • Your schedule is very flexible
  • Your salary is often higher than that of a regular nurse
  • You get to learn additional skills that you might not use in a regular hospital setting

Workplace politics are also minimized in international travel nursing. The primary focus is the patient (as it should be) and competitiveness and petty issues are put on the back burner.

How to Become an International Travel Nurse

At this point, you’re probably pretty intrigued by the idea of becoming an international travel nurse. How does one get started in this exciting career, though?

Here are seven steps you must take if you want to work in this field:

1. Complete Necessary Education Requirements

The first step you need to take to become a travel nurse is to complete all necessary nursing education requirements.

To work as a travel nurse, you’ll need to either become a licensed practical nurse (also known as an LPN) or a registered nurse (also known as an RN).

It takes less time to become an LPN, but the added experience you get from becoming an RN may make it easier for you to get hired. 

2. Pass the NCLEX Exam

Once you’ve completed all your coursework, you’ll need to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (also known as the NCLEX).

This exam qualifies you to work as a nurse in the United States. Passing it is a minimum qualification to work as a travel nurse, too. 

3. Decide Where You Want to Travel

Next, you need to think about where you want to work as a travel nurse.

Are there specific countries in which you want to administer aid? Do you have a preference, or do you just want to go where you’re needed?

4. Find a Country-Specific Program

If you do have a specific country or region in mind where you want to work, it’s a good idea to find a program that will train you to work there.

Find a program that allows you to complete an internship or gain the additional education required to work as a nurse in the country of your choice.

These programs can also help you to gain more experience as a travel nurse. That way, you can decide whether or not it’s the right fit for you. 

5. Find a Travel Nursing Agency

Another option is to find a travel nursing agency. There are lots of agencies out there that work with specific countries or provide specific nursing services. They can help you get your foot in the door and begin your travel nursing career.

Here are some tips that will help you find the right travel nursing agency:

  • Look at rating services like Highway Hypodermics to see what people are saying about a specific agency
  • Use a lead generation website that will collect your information and put you in contact with top agencies
  • Ask for a referral from a friend or family member who already works in the industry

It’s important to vet the agency carefully on your own before you make a decision. Ask about the specific assignments they offer and variations between compensation in different countries.

The more you learn up front, the easier it will be to make a decision (and the less likely you’ll be to be disappointed later.

6. Submit an Application

Once you’ve found a program or nursing agency that seems like a good fit for you, it’s time to submit an application.

When you’re applying, be sure to include all relevant information related to your nursing education and experience, as well as other skills you have that might help you to stand out from other candidates. 

7. Get Your Documents in Order

While you wait for acceptance, it’s a good idea to get your documentation in order, too. That way, you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

You’ll need a passport, as well as a copy of your nursing license and exam results. You’ll likely need to provide copies of your medical records, too, to make sure you’re properly vaccinated and healthy enough to travel abroad.

Learn More About Nursing Careers Today

Now that you know more about what it takes to start a career in international travel nursing, are you ready to begin your journey?

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be working abroad before you know it!

If you’re still on the fence about travel nursing but know you want to work in the medical field, be sure to check out the Healthcare section of our site today.

You’ll learn about lots of other healthcare-related careers here and gain some important insight into which career is the best fit for you.