California Dreaming: Part 1

A Guide to Thriving as a Travel Nurse in the Golden State

California is a destination that offers travel nurses a combination of breathtaking landscapes, climate variety, and rich cultures. This guide aims to provide essential information and insights for travel nurses considering assignments in the Golden State. From licensing and housing to maximizing opportunities and immersing oneself in the local culture, this blog will equip you with the knowledge you need to make the most of your time in California.

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1. The Allure of Travel Nursing in California

California's allure lies in its diverse landscapes, ranging from stunning coastlines to majestic mountains and sprawling deserts. The state's unique geography offers travel nurses opportunities for exploration and adventure. Moreover, California boasts a wide range of healthcare facilities, from world-renowned hospitals to smaller community clinics. This abundance of options ensures that travel nurses can gain valuable experience across different settings and specialties to grow their careers.

2. Navigating Licensing and Certification

To practice as a travel nurse in California, obtaining the necessary licenses and certifications is a necessity. At its core, it’s the same as pursuing other nursing career paths. The American Nursing Association advises:
“Travel nurses must be registered nurses, which means completing a nurse training program, passing the NCLEX-RN exam, and applying for licensure. In addition, most nurse staffing agencies require a minimum amount of clinical experience, so typically, you can't become a travel nurse right out of college. Expect to spend at least two years working as an RN before you start applying for travel nursing positions.”

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Travel Nurse in California

Complete Your Education: Ensure that you have completed the required educational requirements to become a RN by obtaining your nursing degree from an accredited institution and passing the NCLEX-RN.

Apply for Licensure: Begin the process of applying for licensure as a registered nurse in California. The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) has the information and forms to apply for licensure on their site.

Gather Required Documentation: Collect all the necessary documents required for your application, including your nursing school transcripts, proof of passing the NCLEX-RN examination, and any additional documentation requested by the BRN.

Submit Your Application: Submit your completed application along with the required documentation to the California BRN. Pay the applicable fees and wait for your application to be processed.

Obtain a California RN License: Once your application is approved, you will receive your California RN license. This license is essential for practicing nursing in the state.

Gain Experience: Gain valuable experience as an RN in different healthcare settings. Consider working in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities to enhance your skills and knowledge.

Research Travel Nursing Agencies: Research and identify reputable travel nursing agencies that operate in California. Look for agencies like AMN Healthcare that have a strong track record of placing nurses in desirable assignments and offer competitive benefits.

Submit Applications to Travel Nursing Agencies: Prepare your resume, gather your references, and submit applications to the travel nursing agencies you have selected. Tailor your applications to highlight your experience and qualifications. Need help with your resume? Learn “Expert Tips for Writing Your Nursing Resume.” You can search jobs, apply, and complete their credentialing using AMN Passport. Download for free today!

Interview with Travel Nursing Agencies: If selected, you may be invited for interviews with the travel nursing agencies. Prepare for these interviews by researching the agency, understanding their assignment locations, and showcasing your enthusiasm for travel nursing. Find new-grad interview tips here.

Accept an Assignment: Once you have been offered an assignment, carefully review the terms and conditions of the contract. Consider factors such as location, duration, pay, and benefits before accepting the assignment. The staffing agency will help guide you with next steps to working your assignment.

3. Understanding the Housing Landscape

One of the most important factors when agreeing to a travel or contract nursing assignment is the living arrangement. Fortunately, AMN Healthcare knows the value of housing type and location and has a dedicated department with the sole purpose of finding and securing housing for travel and contract nurses. Some nurses prefer to search for housing on their own and can receive a housing stipend as part of their contract. Learn more about housing options as a travel nurse.

4. Maximizing Opportunities in Top Healthcare Facilities

California is home to renowned healthcare institutions and hospitals that provide exceptional career development opportunities. Depending on your specialty, you may want to gain some experience in a large teaching hospital or opt for a Monday-to-Friday schedule at an outpatient clinic. Opportunities run the gamut in California, with assignments in nearly every type of setting: large academic medical centers; mid-size and smaller hospitals; pediatric hospitals and other specialty facilities; clinics and medical groups; rehabilitation facilities; and home health companies. Ultimately, working at any of these facilities in California will expand your skillset and make you a more desirable candidate for future jobs.

For many, California offers travel nurses a unique blend of professional growth opportunities and personal adventure. Stay tuned for part two to learn about California’s culture and activities, the financial success you can achieve, and the professional network you can create.   

Ready to work in California? Apply today to get started!

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