We’re so excited to put you in the driver’s seat of your career, but first — let’s make sure you have enough experience before you start applying to assignments. Here’s your guide to how much experience you need per healthcare division and why that experience is necessary as a traveler.
- Why do you need experience before you can travel?
- Required experience by division
- What to do while you're still gaining experience
- Prepare with Fusion Marketplace
Why do you need experience before you can travel?
You might be wondering, ‘Why do I need experience before I can travel? Isn’t it the same job?’ Great question! It might seem like you should be able to start traveling as soon as you finish your education and licensing, but most healthcare travel jobs require at least a year of staff experience.
This requirement is largely due to safety concerns. As a healthcare traveler, you’ll be expected to jump right into your assignment and be confident in what you’re doing. Your orientations will often be short, and there's a lot of new information about your facility to focus on. You'll be meeting new colleagues, learning the protocol, using a new charting system, and more.
For these reasons, your clinical skills need to be solid so you can provide the best patient care on day one. In fact, the more experience you have, the better. You’ll be more marketable to facilities because they can feel secure knowing you have a strong knowledge base and can safely take care of patients. Plus, more experience will ensure you’re not overly stressed, have a negative first travel assignment, or let your patient care quality slip.
Required experience by division
While every agency, facility, and job might have different requirements, here are some general guidelines for required experience by division. Additionally, some experts still recommend a full two years of experience to ensure you’re extra confident and ready to travel.
- One year of experience.
Cardiopulmonary professionals help diagnose and treat diseases and illnesses related to the heart and lungs. They have been extremely in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will continued to be needed with surges and other seasonal respiratory illnesses that ramp up each winter. Cardiopulmonary specialties include:
- Anesthesia technician
- EEG technician
- EKG technician
- Respiratory therapist (RRT & CRT)
- Sleep tech (polysomnographer)
- One year of experience with no certifications.
Laboratory professionals work in hospitals and reference labs performing core lab functions such as hematology, chemistry, coagulation, and urinalysis. They also may be responsible for blood banking, microbiology, and pathology. Laboratory specialties include:
- Clinical laboratory scientist (CLS)
- Histotechnicians/histotechnologists (HT/HTL)
- Lab assistant
- Medical laboratory technician (MLT)
- Medical lab scientist/medical technologist (MT/MLS)
- Pathology assistant
- Laboratory director/manager
- One year of experience in your specialty.
Nurses perform a large range of duties such as providing and coordinating patient care, communicating with doctors, administering medicine, and checking vital signs. Nurses work in all kinds of settings, from large teaching hospitals to home health or hospice! There are also many specialties nurses can choose from, including ICU, ER, OR, pediatrics, and more. Nursing jobs on Fusion Marketplace include:
- Registered nurse (RN)
- Licensed practical nurse (LPN)
- Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
- One year of experience.
Radiology professionals work in a number of settings like outpatient imaging centers, mobile units, or physician clinics. These allied health professionals specialize in analyzing medical images like ultrasounds, MRIs, or CT scans in order to diagnose and treat illnesses. Radiology specialties include:
- CT technician
- Mammography tech
- Medical physicist
- MRI technician
- Nuclear medicine technician
- Radiology technician
- Radiation technician
- Ultrasound tech
- RN: One year of experience.
- Tech: One and a half years.
- At least one year of experience in the intensive care unit (ICU) or emergency department is preferred to ensure proficiency in cardiology procedures, medications, and devices.
Cath lab professionals assist physicians during cardiovascular procedures like angioplasty, electrophysiology, cardiac catherization, and more. They're responsible for detecting any issues with the heart or blood vessels during these procedures. Cath lab specialties include:
- Cath lab tech
- Surgical tech
- CVOR tech
- Dialysis tech
- IR tech
- OB tech
- Sterile processor
- Endo tech
- EP tech
- First assist tech
- No experience necessary.
Therapy professionals vary in job duties depending on specialty, but overall they come up with patient treatment plans involving specific exercises in order to strengthen some sort of skill, aid rehabilitation, or provide preventative care. These professionals may work in a hospital setting or home health where they spend their day visiting and treating patients in their home. Therapy specialties include:
- Physical therapist (PT)
- Physical therapist assistant (PTA)
- Occupational therapist (OT)
- Certified occupational therapist assistant (COTA)
- Speech-language pathologist (SLP)
Specific setting requirements
Some settings have extra requirements to work there.
- Long term care: One year of experience within the last two years.
- Home health: One year of experience for RNs and LPNs, plus six months of experience in a home health setting within the past two years. Six months to a year of med surg experience is also recommended.
- Hospice: One year of experience for RNs and LPNs, plus six months of experience in hospice care at any point of time.
What to do while you’re still gaining experience
We know it’s hard to wait to start your travel adventure, but there are some important things you can do while you gain clinical experience. In terms of your current staff position, this is a good time to soak up as much information as you can. Go out of your way to learn, continuously work on your skills, and ask to float or cross-train on other floors to get as much experience as possible. (Especially since chances are you’ll be asked to float while traveling.)
It's also a good idea to start applying for a compact license (if applicable) and licenses for non-compact states you might want to travel to, especially those that take a while to process. You can also work toward getting advanced certifications for your profession or specialty. This will make you more flexible and adaptable when it comes time to start applying to travel jobs!
Prepare with Fusion Marketplace
Fusion Marketplace is a great jumping off point while you’re waiting to dive into the travel world. For starters, this is a great time to start building out your Fusion Marketplace profile with your resume, references, certifications, job preferences, and more. That way when you have all the experience you need, you’ll be ready to start applying to jobs with one click!
It’s also never too early to start high-paying jobs, agencies, and recruiters on Fusion Marketplace. You can get a feel for rates while also checking out different agencies and their recruiters’ ratings and reviews. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with a few recruiters (yes, more than one!) during this time. They can help you get ready to travel and when the time comes, you’ll have a few options for finding the best contract. Remember, it’s okay to work with more than one agency as a traveler if you’re transparent and respectful about it!
We can’t wait for you to start your healthcare travel career. In the meantime, create a traveler profile so you can be organized and ready to travel after you’ve gained the necessary experience.