What to Know as a New Healthcare Traveler: Magnet Medical FAQs Answered

Published: May 23, 2023
A Magnet Medical traveler contemplating the many questions they have about becoming a healthcare traveler.

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to being a healthcare traveler and a lot of things to know. So, to save you some Googling, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked healthcare traveler questions.

Getting started as a traveler

How to get started as a healthcare traveler?

Start by looking into agencies both on your own or through referrals or community pages. Apply and start talking with a recruiter to define your wants and needs as a traveler. From there, it’s just a matter of taking the plunge.

What qualifications do I need to become a travel nurse?

The good news is that if you’ve received the education and licenses to work in your specialty, you have what you need to become a traveler in that specialty. However, it’s also wise for travelers to get a compact nursing license that allows them to work in multiple states without needing to go through the process for every state they travel to.

What experience do I need to be a travel nurse?

Depending on the facility, you must have at least one year of recent experience in the specialty you’re applying for, preferably in a hospital/acute care setting. “Recent” generally means within the last six to 12 months. However, most facilities prefer two or more years of experience.

Can I be a healthcare traveler as a new graduate?

Yes and no. Mostly no, sorry. However, some specialties like physical or occupational therapy require obtaining a doctorate (DPT) while others need a bachelor’s. Because of the additional schooling and clinical work done before graduation, they are exempt from the post-graduate clinical requirements for traveling and can start sooner.

How do I obtain licensing for assignments?

Your recruiter will provide you with the information you need to obtain the required license for your assigned state.

What is a Compact Nursing License?

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) increases access to care while maintaining public protection at the state level. Under the NLC, nurses can practice in other NLC states, without having to obtain additional licenses.

What are the traits of a successful healthcare traveler?

Generally, successful healthcare travelers are individuals are some combination of the following:

  • Detail-oriented problem solvers
  • Goal-driven
  • Agile in new environments
  • Compassionate
  • Reliable
  • Strong communication skills
  • Adventure seekers

Earnings and benefits

How much do travel nurses make?

Here is the FAQ about traveling, however, there isn’t one definite answer. It depends on the location and specialty. According to Indeed the average salary for travelers in 2023 is $126,384 or $2,345 per week.

How often do travelers get paid?

Healthcare travelers typically get paid weekly by their agencies.

What is the highest-paying specialty in healthcare traveling?

At the time of this publication, the ten highest-paying traveling positions are:

  • Labor and Delivery
  • Dialysis
  • NICU
  • Hospice
  • Home Health
  • Psychiatric
  • Wound Care
  • OR
  • PACU
  • Oncology

What are the highest paying states for a travel nurse?

Though this will again depend on specialty, some of the highest-paying for travelers include:

  • California
  • Alaska
  • District of Columbia
  • Oregon
  • Hawaii

Do travel nurses get healthcare benefits?

It’s common for coverage to be offered by healthcare agencies though travelers cannot take off more than 30 days a year to receive coverage.

Out on assignment

What is the typical length of a healthcare traveler assignment?

Healthcare traveling assignments can range between eight to 26 weeks. However, 13-week contracts are the most common. Travelers can extend their contracts but cannot exceed one year in the same location.

How do I decide where to go as a travel nurse?

If you’re just starting, the abundance of options can be overwhelming. Think about what goals you hope to achieve as a healthcare traveler. Do you want to visit a bucket-list location? Make more money? Work at a certain facility? Talk to your recruiter about what you’re looking for and they can help you get started in the right direction.

What type of onboarding do travel nurses get?

A one-to-three-day orientation is the average for an assignment. Facilities typically expect travelers not to need too much onboarding before diving in.

Can I bring a friend, spouse, significant other, and/or family on assignment?

Of course! Traveling this way will require more preparation on your end as a traveler to find housing that fits your needs, but the more the merrier!

Can I bring my pets on a healthcare travel assignment?

It’s becoming more common for people to allow pets as they realize many nurses want to travel with their fur babies! Most places require a pet deposit (which may or may not be refundable) as well as a cleaning fee. There are also pet-sitting or pet-walking services, like Rover, that travelers utilize when in cities away from their homes.

Can I extend my current assignment?

Absolutely. However, while you can extend the same travel nurse assignment multiple times, travelers must leave not only the assignment but the location itself when hitting the one-year mark. This is because the eyes of the IRS, you would now be working a permanent role. The assignment state would also be considered your tax home, deeming previous benefits taxable.

Can you cancel a travel nurse contract?

Canceling a travel nurse contract depends on your contract. However, you should avoid cancellations unless there’s a personal emergency or if you genuinely feel your license is in danger. Some contracts have no penalty if you give two weeks’ notice, but others require complete fulfillment of the contract, or you may have to pay a hefty fee or be ineligible for rehire.

How far in advance should I start the application process for my next assignment?

We recommend travel nurses start looking four to six weeks before they want to start their next travel assignment. This gives the Compliance team proper time to get the paperwork in order and travelers enough time to prepare for the transition.

Can I take time off between assignments?

Yes, you’ve earned it! Remember that choosing when and where you work is part of the perks of the healthcare traveling lifestyle. If you want to and are able to, then go for it!

Housing and taxes

What should I do about my mail as a healthcare traveler?

There are multiple ways to manage your mail when traveling, some options include:

  • Forward your mail with the postal service each time you move to a new travel nurse job.
  • Maintain a permanent address at a friend’s or family member’s house and have your mail forwarded to you regularly.
  • Rent a private post office box and arrange forwarding on a predefined basis.

How do healthcare travelers find housing?

Extended-stay hotels and long-term Airbnb can be great options for newer travelers looking for low-maintenance abodes away from home. There are also several traveler-centric housing websites like  Corporatehousing.comTravelnursehousing.com, and Furnishedfinder.com.

What is a tax home?

A tax home is where the nurse claims permanent residency and contributes to a cost of living, meaning it will most likely be where the traveler holds a driver’s license, ID, registers their car, maintains a home, or earns a majority of their income.

How do I file taxes as a healthcare traveler?

Taxes as a healthcare traveler are notoriously complex because they have to be filed in each state worked in. We know that is a bit confusing and for additional information, you can read more about tax information in our discussion of pay.

Still have questions?

Magnet is here to provide peace of mind for travelers in any way we can, 24/7/365. Contact our team today to learn more about how Magnet can help you make the most of your healthcare traveling career, whether it’s your first or twenty-first assignment.

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