October 5, 2016

Traveling Nurse Qualifications & Soft Skills

travel nurse with patient

Aside from an RN degree, experience in your specialty, and a desire to be a travel nurse, there are several must-have “soft skills” that you need to be suitable for the job. Soft skills enable you to interact well with others and form relationships; more importantly, they will fuel your success and help you have a good experience in a new travel nursing assignment.

tips for nurses


Travel Nurse Skill #1: Adaptability

This is one of the most important skills needed to be a travel nurse. If you can adapt to new settings and environments to affect long-term change within yourself, you have an advantage when it comes to being a travel nurse. Moving from place to place every few months and jumping into a new hospital setting while growing personally and professionally requires adaptability that not everyone has.

If you answer “yes” to these questions, you may be adaptable:

  • Do I handle change easily?
  • Do I embrace new things, experiences, and processes?
  • Do I learn from my experiences and grow?

Travel Nurse Skill #2: Flexibility

Being able to compromise and change in response to a situation is a key skill to being a good travel nurse. To be flexible, you need to be capable of quickly changing the way you work to best fit your employer’s needs. This is a highly sought after skill in today’s workforce. People who can flex and bend with changing requirements are seen as valuable team players.

If you answer “yes” to these questions, you may be flexible:

  • Do I adjust my working style to fit my employer’s needs?
  • Am I able to take direction even if it is not the direction I want to take?
  • If a new course of action is needed, can I put it into action immediately?

Travel Nurse Skill #3: Good Communication Skills

Joining a new team for a short time means you need to communicate effectively. Keeping important things to yourself, being too closed off, and saying offensive things won’t win you any friends on a new assignment. You need to be able to communicate in a clear, friendly way so you can do your job well.

If you answer “yes” to these communication skills questions, you may have good communication skills:

  • Do I consider who I am speaking to, what he/she needs to know, and how best to express that message before I speak?
  • Do I anticipate and deal with all causes of confusion as soon as possible?
  • Do I try to explain the underlying concepts of what I am communicating?

Travel Nurse Skill #4: Emotional Intelligence Skills

Developing relationships takes time and effort, but it also takes emotional intelligence. We often only think of our intelligence quotient, or IQ, when considering intelligence, but our EQ is more important in some situations. To develop relationships, we must be able to “understand, empathize and negotiate with other people.” Relationships are the cornerstone of success in our lives and the ability to develop them quickly and meaningfully will help your travel nursing career.

If you answer “yes” to these questions, you may have high emotional intelligence:

  • Am I self-aware – can I recognize my own emotions and their effects?
  • Am I self-confident – do I recognize my own self-worth?
  • Am I responsible for myself and my actions?
  • Am I committed to developing and mentoring others?

Travel Nurse Skill #5: Love of Travel

This isn’t a skill, but it’s too important to exclude – a love of traveling is essential to being a travel nurse. Some nurses consider taking a travel assignment only for the paycheck, but are unhappy with moving around frequently. You need to love exploring new cities and seeing new things.

If you answer “yes” to these questions, you likely love to travel:

  • Am I excited whenever I get the chance to explore a new city?
  • Do I have a list of places I’d like to visit?
  • Do I easily talk to people and feel comfortable in a new environment?

Work on These Skills

If you don’t have the first four must-have skills, there is still hope for becoming a travel nurse. Check out this blog for TNAA’s travel nursing explained resources. You can develop yourself in the areas of adaptability, flexibility, communication, and emotional intelligence. To improve in these areas, you need self-awareness and a willingness to change. Observe how you interact with others and reflect on areas for improvement. Before you know it, your relationships and career will become better because you have changed for the better.