After you complete the online application with a travel nurse agency, you will be asked to provide your records. One of the biggest hurdles in travel nursing can be all the paperwork that needs to be submitted for the application and processing of your travel nurse contract. Trying to gather the information, keeping it orderly, and having it available at a moment’s notice is a challenge for 99% of all humans. I struggle with it. Some days I feel like I am spending hours shuffling papers and going through old folders looking for that one key piece of information I cannot seem to find but absolutely need. Every travel nurse I know hates the 3 Fs: forms, filing, and formalities.
The good news is…the internet! Or, at least technology. Even compared to when I traveled for the first time (2010), the capabilities and potential of technology to help organize our lives has grown immensely. It seems so obvious to let the tech world help and be our friend when it comes to organizing your travel nursing documentation.
Almost all travel nurse contracts are going to require similar travel nursing paperwork.
The required documentation for travel nurse assignments may include:
This will 100% be required. If you need to obtain a license in another state, make sure to apply early. See my advice for nursing licensure here.
BLS/ACLS/PALS- NRP if you have it- Check when these expire RIGHT NOW. If it is going to expire before the end of your anticipated contract, sign up with your current employer. Renew early if need be. Another great idea is to become an instructor- it looks great on a travel nurse resume. If these certifications do expire during your travel nursing assignment, or in between jobs, anticipate having to pay for these renewals on your own. You will have to find a training center to attend an actual class, or you can do the online Heartcode option and find an instructor to test you out.
Any certifications that you hold
CCRN, TNCC, NIHSS- anything you have received a card or certificate for that requires maintenance (CEUs) and/or renewal
your college transcripts (official or unofficial- be sure to ask). Some facilities may require a copy of your degree/diploma. You also may need to call and request delivery of official transcripts directly to a board of nursing or agency. Ask your recruiter or the compliance officer exactly what is required for your travel nursing contract.
Titers/Vaccinations (requirements will vary by facility)
Rubeola, Rubella, Varicella, Hepatitis B and C, Mumps, TDap, Flu, Pneumonia, etc. Be prepared to show a complete record of all your vaccinations. This can vary by state, agency, or facility. Sometimes a proof of vaccination is not enough, and you will have to have titers drawn. This cost should be covered your agency. You may need to provide copies of your last 1-2 PPDs, including placements and read results.
Copies of driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security card- be sure that you don’t need the original copy of your birth certificate, as this usually takes more time to acquire
Tax home declaration- If you are taking a tax-free stipend you will definitely have to fill this form out for each agency. You may also be required to complete a permanent residency form. I will include an article soon about taxes and travel nursing.
Travel nurse resume
Email this as a separate document to yourself for easy access as you apply to travel nursing agencies. You can also email yourself the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the people you will be using for clinical references. Read more about travel nursing resumes!
All contracts will require you to have proof of a physical exam. Some travel nursing contracts will allow any physical completed in the last 12 months. Others will require an exam within the last 90 days. Your agency can cover this cost with your other onboarding health requirements (PPD, fit test, urine drug screen). Some travel nursing agencies have a specific form that they require a practitioner to fill out. Ask if a copy of your latest physical will satisfy the condition. If not, you can email or fax the form to your physician’s office for them to complete and return to you. Follow up with the office if more than a week passes and they haven’t sent it back to you.
Pro Tip: Don’t freak out! And contact your current employer’s health services department. They most likely have all the health-related info that you can ask for copies of. Your manager may also have copies of the professional documentation such as license, AHA certifications, and transcripts.
Tips for managing your documents
Make your documents digital
I recommend making all the information digital ASAP. Make a list of what you need, and cross items out as they are added to your file. I save it in two different forms.
First, I take a picture of each document individually. I email it to myself with the subject line “travel nursing documentation year X”, obviously filling in year X with the current year. In the message area I label the document, for example, “CCRN”. I reply to myself over and over again, so that I have a separate email with each piece of documentation. I know this sounds monotonous and like relentless torture. But, I like having the paperwork available and accessible to me at all times. If it’s in my email, I can search for it on my phone. Rather than having to find it in a grid of pictures.
Put your documents in a single file
Second, I upload all the images to one file. I either make a word processing or google doc, and upload each document as an image. I then send the document to myself in an email labeled “All travel docs year X” Sometimes an agency needs all the documentation uploaded in individual files to their website. Not ideal, but occasionally necessary. Before doing this, I always email my travel nurse recruiter and ask if I can just send over one big document that he/she can forward to the compliance department. If this is a yes, then I save myself a bunch of time and can just send one simple email.
As you obtain additional certifications add them to this file.
I know this probably isn’t the most efficient or best way to store documents, but it works better than anything I have used in the past. I don’t have to go searching through my Google Drive or remember what I named the file, or go through an album to find the picture that I need. Comment below with any tips you have related to digitalizing your documents!
Also of note: I am not an iPhone user, so if there is some magical Apple related magic for storing documents, I am sorry I am not familiar with it ?
Other Travel Nursing Contract Obligations
Every agency is going to require you to fill out a skills checklist. This is usually done online with an account that you will have to create specific to the travel nursing agency. The checklist is based on your specialty and which travel nursing jobs you are applying to. There will be a scale of 1-4 or 5 to rate your experience with and how frequently you encounter each skill. This is not a knowledge exam, you are self rating your experience, no need to get nervous. There are usually a ton of lists to choose from- don’t get crazy. Complete the list most relevant to your specialty or ask a recruiter which one you should complete. If the agency needs more, they will ask. Don’t waste your time trying to prove you are super nurse. There is plenty more paperwork to be done. Do skills checklists whenever you have the time. I have done them as soon as I apply with an agency. It is one less thing for me to think about as I am digging through papers to find all my documentation.
Some facilities will require you to take a test in your specialty before you can accept the travel nurse assignment. This is almost always done online. I have never had to go to a testing facility to complete this. There is often a study guide that is accessible via the testing website that you can buy, or preferably download for free. If you have adequate experience in your area of expertise these tests will not be difficult.
Winning the Travel Nurse Documentation Battle
I know this is A LOT of information. But if you can have it all in one place that is easily accessible, your stress level will drastically reduce. Take a day to gather everything you have. Make a list of what additional documents you need to find or obtain from outside sources. Talk to your recruiter and ask about the specifics of vaccinations vs titers, and what type of transcripts you need. Find the contact information of your nursing school and save it for easy reference.
You can always ask your travel nurse recruiter if the agency has a documentation specialist. They may be able to provide you with organizational tools or tips to make the process easier for you. You won’t be the first, or the last person to mentally wrestle with travel nursing paperwork.
Next step: Find a Travel Nursing Contract!