For a variety of reasons, travel nurse practitioners are an increasingly essential component of America's healthcare system. Like locum tenens doctors, travel NPs are increasingly in demand to deliver high-level care in facilities and communities suffering from the nationwide shortage of primary care physicians.
In other words, locum tenens travel NP jobs are abundant — especially here at Staff Care, the nation's leader in locums staffing.
"Five years ago, Staff Care received only a minimal number of requests for locum tenens NPs," note the authors of our 2017 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends. In 2016, along with physician assistants, NPs "accounted for 13% of all temporary days requested, up from 12% in 2014," the survey authors note.
"Demand for these practitioners is growing rapidly and is exceeding the current supply."
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The opportunities for travel NPs, then, are clearly abundant, and likely to increase. But what exactly should NPs unfamiliar with locum tenens work expect when they pursue travel nurse practitioner jobs?
Travel Nurse Practitioner Jobs: What to Expect
Of course, travel nursing has long been a foundation of the healthcare industry. Like locum tenens doctors and clinicians, travel nurses are often recruited to provide care in facilities needing temporary help filling staffing shortages, seasonal fluctuations, or for other reasons.
But as the nurse practitioners reading this are well aware, although they typically begin their education the same way, NPs practice at a more advanced level than registered nurses. NPs can perform actions typically reserved for physicians, and which exceed the power of RNs and LPNs/LVNs, such as prescribing medications, diagnosing conditions, ordering testing, reviewing test results, among other roles.
The role of a travel nurse practitioner, then, is often more akin to that of a locum tenens doctor than to that of a traditional travel nurse. Indeed, many facilities are hiring travel nurse practitioners to fill roles for which they once pursued locum tenens doctors.
Why? Physicians sometimes may not be available in a specific area, or they may be out of a facility's budget. The reasons may also be hierarchical or political — a facility may already have its quota of on-staff doctors, yet an increase in the amount of patients may call for additional practitioners who can provide high-level care.
It should be noted, too, that the extent to which NPs can fill the role of a doctor — specifically, prescribing medications and diagnosing conditions — is not consistent from state to state. Though more and more states are granting NPs greater practice authority in an attempt to empower them to deliver a more advanced level of care, in dozens of states, physician supervision or sign-off is still required for many NP decisions or actions.
As a working NP, you're probably well aware of what you can and can't do in the state where you're based. But it's also important to learn what practice authority NPs possess in any state you plan to pursue travel nursing jobs. Fortunately, we can help you do just that with our state-by-state guide to NP scope of practice — check it out here.
NP Scope of Practice Map
There are other challenges you may encounter when working travel NP jobs. Patients may not be familiar with the role of an NP — though this is hardly unique to a travel nurse practitioner, and may be encountered in any setting, it's reasonable to expect that in a facility where NP scope of practice has been newly expanded (like Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota or the nation's VA facilities, which expanded NP scope of practice just a few months ago), patients may be less familiar with being treated by a nurse practitioner.
“Baby boomers and older, they aren’t familiar with what a nurse practitioner is,” nurse practitioner Gina Leman told the Hendricks County Flyer. “We are trained to very appropriately and very thoroughly attend to patients' needs in the capacity we practice. We are not trying to become doctors.”
Travel Nurse Practitioner Jobs: Locum Tenens Opportunities Nationwide
The bottom line, though, is that travel nurse practitioner jobs offer all the benefits of locum tenens work, including:
- Flexibility. Locum workers get to choose when, where and how long they want to work.
- Freedom. Locum jobs give NPs the chance to work without the administrative hassles that sometimes come with permanent positions.
- Career-building. With travel NP locum jobs, you can gain a wide variety of career experience by working a variety of assignments in a diverse range of facilities — from small-town clinics to large medical centers, and all points in between.
- Travel! If you love to travel, locum tenens work literally pays you to do so. Staff Care covers travel and housing costs for all our locum workers!
There's also the added bonus that working a travel NP job in another state might give you a chance to work with expanded practice authority — say, if you're a resident of California (where NP scope of practice is restricted), and you take a job in Nevada (where full practice is permitted).
If you're interested in pursuing a travel nurse practitioner job, we want to hear from you! We're currently recruiting NPs to work a variety of great assignments nationwide. We invite you to contact us here for more information.
Travel NP Jobs