Breathe Easy and Explore: Your Guide to Becoming a Travel ICU Nurse


Chloe’ Sizer | March 8th, 2024

Do you have a passion for critical care and a thirst for adventure? Becoming a travel Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse might be the perfect career path for you! Travel ICU nurses provide vital care to critically ill patients in diverse healthcare settings nationwide, all while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of temporary assignments. But how do you get started on this rewarding journey? Here’s your roadmap to becoming a travel ICU nurse:

  1. Secure Your RN License:
    The foundation of your travel nursing career is your Registered Nurse (RN) license. This requires graduating from an accredited nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
  1. Gain ICU Experience:
    Travel nurse agencies typically require a minimum of two to three years of experience in an ICU setting. This specialized experience allows you to develop critical skills in ventilator management, hemodynamic monitoring, administering complex medications, and collaborating with various healthcare professionals on the critical care team.
  1. Obtain ICU-Specific Certifications:
    While not always mandatory, pursuing relevant certifications can significantly enhance your resume and showcase your expertise. Consider certifications like:

    • Basic Life Support (BLS): Essential for all healthcare professionals.
    • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS): Demonstrates advanced skills in managing cardiac emergencies.
    • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS): Crucial for nurses caring for critically ill children.
    • Certified Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN): A nationally recognized credential demonstrating your advanced knowledge and skills in critical care nursing.
  1. Choose a Travel Nurse Agency:
    Numerous reputable travel nurse agencies specialize in placing RNs in temporary ICU positions across the country. Research and compare agencies based on their reputation, preferred locations, offered benefits, and commission structures.
  1. Build a Compelling Resume and Profile:
    Craft a compelling resume highlighting your ICU experience, skills, and relevant certifications. Many agencies also require online profiles, so be sure to showcase your qualifications and achievements effectively.
  1. Interview and Secure an Assignment:
    Once you connect with an agency, prepare diligently for interviews with potential facilities. Be confident, articulate your skills and experiences, and clearly communicate your career goals and desired locations.
  1. Onboarding and Orientation:
    Upon securing an assignment, your agency will guide you through onboarding processes, including acquiring state licensure (if needed) and completing facility-specific orientations tailored to the ICU unit protocol and equipment.
  1. Embrace Your Travel ICU Nurse Adventure!
    Congratulations, you’re now a travel ICU nurse! Prepare to utilize your expertise in diverse settings, collaborate with various healthcare teams, and make a profound impact on the lives of critically ill patients. Embrace the challenges and rewards of working in new environments, and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of exploring new destinations while furthering your nursing career.

Additional Tips:

  • Network with other travel ICU nurses: Connect with experienced travel ICU nurses to gain valuable insights, advice, and recommendations for navigating the field.
  • Stay informed on travel nurse trends: Research current salary trends, in-demand locations for ICU nurses, and emerging opportunities within the travel nursing field.
  • Maintain a strong work ethic and adaptable mindset: Be prepared to adapt to different ICU setups, protocols, and varying team dynamics while maintaining the highest standard of patient care.


Becoming a travel ICU nurse requires dedication, specialized skills, and a passion for critical care. By following these steps and remaining committed to growth, you can embark on a fulfilling journey of professional and personal exploration while contributing your expertise to various healthcare systems across the country.


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