Compassion, Care, and Travel: New Opportunities for Nurses

In World War II, the Army Nurse Corps embraced the tenet that nurses need to go where their services are in highest demand, even if that meant the front line. Their contributions helped ensure that fewer than 4 percent of wounded WWII American soldiers who received treatment at medical facilities died from their wounds, according to It can be argued that the nurses of the Army Nurse Corps were the pioneers of today’s traveling nurses.

Despite unprecedented technological advances in healthcare, communities suffer from a shortage of quality healthcare. High-income, industrialized nations tend to have the greatest ratio of medical staff per capita. Economically impoverished populations suffer not only from a lack of food and clean water, but from access to qualified nurses and physicians. The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a definite link between good health and the density of professional health care providers, according to Nurse migration, also referred to as traveling nurses, affords a proactive solution to this dire situation.

Anita Young served in Zambia with Nurses for Africa. “I learned that it was not our ‘excellent level of skilled nursing’ that would make a difference,” she reflects on the organization’s website, “but that we simply showed up.” Caregivers can help provide healthcare, shape the healthcare infrastructure and bring home valuable skills and experiences. Some nurses take short-term travel nursing jobs in African countries while others contribute via mission trips.

Mutually Beneficial

Traveling nurses help remediate a recognized disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots” of the ill-affected populace. By agreeing to work in pre-determined regions for limited lengths of time, traveling nurses enable medical facilities to control concentrations of medical staff.

Traveling nurses receive a list of benefits that typically include:

  • Free or subsidized housing
  • Health, dental and vision insurance
  • Matching retirement funds
  • End-of-assignment bonus
  • Offers of full-time, permanent positions

Becoming a traveling nurse is a creative way of traveling without losing precious vacation days or salary. Salary from is usually $75,000 a year and can go up from there depending on overtime, specialty and location.

For the Brave of Heart

Traveling nurses choose from a list of possible locales in which to conduct their stint at a host medical facility. They are never forced into accepting an assignment that they might find unsavory or dangerous, according to The nurse always applies specifically to a location from a list of alternatives. In fact, some traveling nurses use their time while working and living to explore their new geographic surroundings like a vacation opportunity. Others might be seeking a new permanent home but wish to spend some time there before committing. From the beaches of Florida or Haiti to the Alaskan wilderness, there is a place for everyone.

Assignments can last anywhere from 8 to 26 weeks. In some instances, the length of duty may be extended at the request of the nurse.

Working as a traveling nurse doesn’t have to be a solitary sojourn. Family members and beloved pets are also welcome to come along on the adventure. Accommodations can be adjusted ahead of time to arrange for additional human or furry companions.

Traveling nurses can ask to be assigned to a specific medical field as well.


There are some requirements to become a traveling nurse:

  • At least one completed year of residency in a hospital environment in the desired specialty
  • Be an RN
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  • No age restrictions
  • Traveling nurses should be open to new experiences and accepting of all races and income levels. A natural curiosity about the world and its people is a desirable trait that makes any transition go more smoothly.
  • Traveling nurses do not necessarily need to be fluent in a second language, but this could be useful if working within certain minority populations.

About the Author: Brianna is East Coast and enjoys writing guest blogging for travel sites.