It’s a very good question to ask: can you be a travel nurse as a new grad. At the end of the day, probably not. Unfortunately, new graduate nurses don’t make the best travel nurses due to lack of experience. It can be an uncomfortable experience for both the traveler and the facility staff. Most facilities will require at least one year of experience, and many will require two if you are working in a specific, high acuity specialty (such as ICU, ED, L&D, OR etc.).
Why Shouldn’t Nurses Start Traveling as a New Grad?
Travel nursing is set up this way because you are expected to start working after 4 hours or less of clinical orientation. A new graduate nurse needs to gain experience to know how to stay organized, prioritize, and recognize when they need help.
A smart way to figure out if you’re ready to travel is when you are able to ask “what is the policy here on….(chest pain, restraints, decompensating patients, drip rates/limits, etc.) and where can I find that information consistently”, instead of “what do you think I should do for this patient?”.
Travelers ask questions about specific hospital policies and protocols, not about general patient care. A good travel nurse knows his/her resources and knows when to reach out for help. But, a good travel nurse also knows that they are there because the unit is short staffed and the core staff aren’t always available and ready to answer advanced clinical questions.
How Much Does an RN Make Starting Out?
According to Glassdoor, the average new grad RN salary is $59,563. This figure can vary greatly state to state, and between facilities. Payscale quotes an average hourly rate for a new grad RN as $26.70.
As a new grad you can increase your hourly wages by pursuing things like certifications, additional education hours, and earning your BSN (if you don’t already have it).
Registered nurses should expect a 1-5% yearly raise, depending on personal performance (merit), the economical state of the country, and facility budget plans.
How do I become a travel nurse as a new grad?
We have a whole post dedicated to people like you. Our guide on how to become a travel nurse gives you a pathway to follow as a new grad nurse. It has suggestions on things you can do to optimize your travel nurse career, before you even start traveling!