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While the national unemployment rate is expected to rise well above 10 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects travel nurse positions will increase over the next seven years. This can make anyone consider employment as a travel nurse, but before that can happen one has to obtain a nursing license from the state board of nursing where they will practice.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing is a non-profit organization that coordinates the regulatory powers of the various state and territorial nursing boards. According to the NCSBN, before a person can apply to a state board of nursing for a nursing license and fill a travel nurse position one must graduate from a state-approved nursing program, pass the National Council Licensure Examination, NCLEX, and must self-report any criminal convictions, chemical dependencies and functional ability deficits.

Nursing program candidates have thousands of traveling nursing opportunities throughout America, but the minimum requirements are a high school diploma or GED and CPR certificate. Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and provide proof of immunization against common illnesses. If a person has a post-secondary background, then college transcripts must be submitted. If a prospective nurse is a non-native English speaker, then he or she must pass an English test. Many nursing programs require an essay explaining the reasons why the candidate wants to enter the nursing field as part of their admission requirements. Each of the requirements is scored which, when combined with the other requirements, will determine whether or not the person is accepted into the program, gets placed on a waiting list or is rejected.

Even though positions as travel nurses are plentiful in America due to the nurse shortage, nursing programs are still highly competitive. There is an over abundance of students who apply every year to nursing programs, but enough nursing educators available. Therefore nursing and travel nurse positions have become highly competitive. Because there is such a high demand for nurses, hospitals and other healthcare employers have increased the salaries and benefits for nurses well above what most schools can afford to pay nurse educators. This makes nurse educators a hard to find and retain for nursing schools. To increase one’s chances of getting accepted into a nursing program one should try to get healthcare experience in a clinical or hospital setting.

When a candidate is accepted into a nursing program he or she has to take and pass courses in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, psychology, lifespan human growth and development, English and math.

When students graduate from nursing school, nursing candidates cannot fill a travel nurse position yet until she or he passes the NCLEX, which is a standardized exam that each state board of nursing uses to determine if the candidate is prepared for entry-level nursing practice and has at least one year of nursing experience. According to the NCSBN, the NCLEX covers:

* Safe, Effective Care Environment

* Management of Care

* Safety and Infection Control

* Promotion and Maintenance

* Growth and Development

* Prevention and Early Detection of Disease

* Psychosocial Integrity

* Coping and Adaptation

* Psychosocial Adaptation

* Physiological Integrity

* Basic Care and Comfort

* Pharmacological and Potential Therapies

* Reduction of Risk Potential

* Physiological Adaptation

The NCLEX is a computerized exam that is administered by the NCSBN. RN candidates need to answer a minimum of 75 questions and LPN candidates a minimum of 85 questions. When the minimum numbers of questions are answered, the computer will determine if the tester has passed; if not, the tester is allowed to continue onward until they reach the maximum number of questions. An RN candidate has 265 questions maximum and a LPN candidate has 205 questions maximum for the test. All candidates have five hours to take the test, but are given two short breaks during the test time. Candidates can retake the test as many times as needed as long as they allow 91 days pass before retaking the test.

The next step toward obtaining a license and filling a travel nurse position is reporting all criminal convictions, chemical dependencies and functional ability deficits to the state board of nursing. This can be easiest or the hardest part of the license application process depending on the applicant. It is highly recommended to be honest.

The final step of obtaining a license is sending in the application to the state board of nursing. The application processing time on average is 30 to 35 days from the date the board receives the application.

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