Subscribe to Notes on Nursing, our monthly news digest.
Nursing Specialty Finder

How to Become an International Travel Nurse

European ambulance driving away in the night
Discover the world of international travel nursing with our comprehensive guide. Learn how to acquire the education, experience, and licensing needed for this rewarding career.
Nursing Specialty Finder

How to Become an International Travel Nurse

Share

Discover the world of international travel nursing with our comprehensive guide. Learn how to acquire the education, experience, and licensing needed for this rewarding career.
European ambulance driving away in the night

Travel nursing provides opportunities to experience diverse clinical settings, explore new locations, and earn competitive salaries. When speaking of travel nursing, many nurses think of domestic travel nursing, working within the United States moving from one state to another. Conversely, there’s international travel nursing and opportunities to work abroad in various countries.

Becoming an international travel nurse is a rewarding and exciting career path that offers the opportunity to combine nursing with exploration, cultural immersion and professional growth. International travel nurses work in various healthcare settings around the world, helping to fill critical staffing gaps and gaining valuable experiences. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to become an international travel nurse:

Male and female nurse in scrubs walking down hospital hallway
Explore the exciting role of International Travel Nursing, involving temporary assignments in global healthcare settings. These nurses adapt to various systems and cultures, often filling critical gaps during staff shortages or special projects.

  • Acquire the Necessary Education, Experience and Licensing

    To embark on a career as an international travel nurse, you need to start with a strong educational foundation. Most countries and healthcare facilities prefer candidates with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Ensure that your nursing program is accredited by the appropriate nursing board in your country.

    After completing your nursing education, you'll need to become a registered nurse (RN). This typically involves passing the national licensing examination specific to your country, such as the NCLEX-RN in the United States.

    Gain clinical experience as a staff nurse in your home country. Most international travel nursing positions require at least one to two years of experience, although some countries may have different requirements.

  • Research Destinations

    Decide on the international destinations where you'd like to work as a travel nurse. Consider factors like language, culture, healthcare system, scope of practice and personal preferences.

    Research the specific licensing and credentialing requirements for each destination. Each country may have different procedures for foreign-trained nurses to obtain licensure.

    Set realistic salary expectations. Countries such as Luxembourg, Denmark and Australia are known to pay competitive salaries to international travel nurses, as per the data from the Economic Research Institute. The exact rates may vary based on the nursing specialty and experience.

  • Choose a Reputable Travel Nursing Agency

    To become an international travel nurse, it's advised to work with a travel nursing agency that specializes in international placements. These agencies have experience and expertise in navigating the complexities of international nursing assignments.

    Do thorough research to find an agency that aligns with your career goals and provides the support and benefits you need. Ideally, you want agencies that have established relationships with healthcare facilities in your desired destinations.

    Know your preferred travel nursing contract length. In contrast to domestic travel nursing contracts that usually range from 8 to 13 weeks, international contracts are often longer, usually lasting 12 to 24 months, due to the additional time and effort required for international placements

  • Obtain the Necessary Credentials

    Secure the required nursing licenses and certifications for the country you wish to work in. This may involve passing the host country's nursing board examination or fulfilling specific language proficiency requirements.

    Ensure that your nursing credentials are up to date and in good standing in your home country, such as your RN license.

    Some countries may require you to pass additional examinations, like the IELTS or TOEFL, to demonstrate proficiency in the local language or English, especially if you are a non-native English speaker.

  • Prepare the Documentation

    Compile your nursing credentials, transcripts, licenses, certifications and reference letters. Ensure that all your documents are properly notarized and authenticated.

    Some countries may require a criminal background check as part of the application process, so be prepared to provide those documents.

  • Work on Your Resume

    Craft a professional resume that highlights your nursing education, experience, and any relevant certifications or specialties.

    Include any international nursing experiences or language proficiency to showcase your readiness for an international assignment.

  • Apply for Positions

    Work with your chosen travel nursing agency to identify and apply for international travel nursing positions in your desired destinations. The agency will assist you with the application process, matching you with healthcare facilities and ensuring that you meet all the necessary requirements.

    Be prepared for interviews, either in person or virtually, as part of the selection process.

  • Passport and Visa

    Ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your planned assignment. If necessary, you may need to renew it.

    Work with your travel nursing agency and the host country's embassy or consulate to secure the appropriate work visa or permit. Visa requirements vary by country, so be sure to follow the specific guidelines and timelines.

  • Cultural and Language Preparation

    Familiarize yourself with the culture, healthcare system, and language of your destination. Understanding the local customs, medical terminology, and communication norms will help you adapt more easily.

    Consider taking cultural competence courses or language classes if necessary.

  • Packing and Logistics

    Plan and pack for your international assignment, taking into account the specific requirements and climate of your destination. Check the baggage allowance with your travel nursing agency and the airline.

    Make arrangements for housing and transportation upon arrival in the host country. Some agencies provide assistance with these logistics.

  • Health and Safety Preparations

    Ensure that you are up to date with your vaccinations and have access to medical insurance that covers international travel.

    Familiarize yourself with the healthcare resources available in your destination, including any healthcare facilities recommended by your agency.

  • Cultural Adaptation

    Upon arrival, be open to immersing yourself in the local culture. Building relationships with colleagues and patients can help you adapt more quickly.

    Be respectful of cultural differences and embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from your international experience.

  • Professional Growth

    Take advantage of the opportunity to learn new nursing practices, gain exposure to diverse patient populations, and enhance your clinical skills. International travel nursing can be a valuable experience for your professional development.

  • Legal Compliance

    Abide by the laws and regulations of the host country. Be aware of the scope of practice, ethical standards, and professional responsibilities that apply in your destination.

    Keep your travel nursing agency informed of your progress and any issues you encounter during your assignment.

  • Completing Assignments

    Becoming an international travel nurse involves a significant amount of preparation and documentation, but the rewards can be truly transformative. You'll have the chance to expand your nursing skills, experience new cultures, and make a positive impact on healthcare systems worldwide. By following these steps and working with a reputable travel nursing agency, you can successfully pursue a fulfilling international travel nursing career.

    Becoming an international travel nurse involves a significant amount of preparation and documentation, but the rewards can be truly transformative. You'll have the chance to expand your nursing skills, experience new cultures, and make a positive impact on healthcare systems worldwide. By following these steps and working with a reputable travel nursing agency, you can successfully pursue a fulfilling international travel nursing career.


    References

    1. How to Become an International Travel Nurse (NurseJournal.org)
    2. International Travel Nursing: What To Know Before Going Abroad (AllNursingSchools.com)

    Male and female nurse in scrubs walking down hospital hallway
    Explore the exciting role of International Travel Nursing, involving temporary assignments in global healthcare settings. These nurses adapt to various systems and cultures, often filling critical gaps during staff shortages or special projects.

Group of smiling nurses in scrubs holding folders
Group of smiling nurses in scrubs holding folders
Subscribe to Notes on Nursing, our monthly news digest.
Explore issues of our monthly newsletter, which features the many ways nurses' innovation and leadership drive transformative change in healthcare.