Nurses specializing in home healthcare have a unique window into patient lives. And while it is rewarding to take care of your neighbors, there are also upsides to taking this type of job on the road. Here’s how home health travel nursing works, and what to consider before pursuing a home health travel nursing assignment with RNnetwork.
What is home health nursing?
Rather than working in a hospital setting, home health nurses provide care directly in a patient’s home. The patient populations a home health nurse can work with vary — patients can be elderly, disabled, or have a critical illness. Or they may be in recovery from a major surgery, illness, or accident.
A home health nurse’s day-to-day responsibilities range from monitoring vital signs, wounds, or injuries to observing and recording behavioral changes. Home health nurses can be strong advocates for a patient since they often witness even subtle shifts in their habits. They might be the first to observe new eating patterns, how stable a patient’s mood is, or the results of any tests administered.
This means that skills in assessment and observation, wound care, injection administration, tubal feeding, IV monitoring, and catheter insertion and monitoring are essential to be a successful home health nurse.
How does home health travel nursing differ from other types of travel nursing?
Generally speaking, home health travel nursing calls for nurses that are more independent and self-reliant than those you might find in a clinical setting. This is because many home health travel nurses operate on their own rather than as part of a team.
Jen Newman, senior recruiter at RNnetwork, put it this way: “The biggest thing is that home health nurses are completely independent. If you’re working on the acute side, you’re going to a hospital every day. You have everybody there with you. You can just go and grab another nurse and be like, ‘Hey, can you help me in room four?’ Home health nurses can’t do that.”
Nurses that enjoy one-on-one patient interaction, feel comfortable making decisions, and like working independently will find home health travel nursing positions particularly appealing.
Benefits of traveling as a home health nurse
The benefits of travel nursing are numerous, but there are some special perks available to home health travel nurses that sweeten the deal.
Weekly pay with a guarantee of hours
Most contracts for home health travel nurses include a guarantee of hours, which can be a huge benefit. Because many home health nurses work PRN and are at risk of a lower patient census impacting their earnings, this arrangement takes a significant challenge out of the equation for financial planning.
Jen says, “If a PRN home health nurse’s patient census falls off — like, let’s just say they have a lot of patients discharged — they’re not going to get that many visits during the week. Since many are paid per visit, that can really affect your paycheck if your company doesn’t have the patient census there.”
Home health travel nurses can instead enjoy frequent, reliable pay that isn’t dependent on a variable patient census.
Good — and rising — compensation
Many organizations pay top dollar to fill empty positions for home health travel nurses. This can mean more cash in your pockets for fewer hours of work than in more traditional roles.
Even better, Jen has observed increased pay for those in these positions since the pandemic, which isn’t the case for all types of travel nurses. She says that some home health travel nurse positions are earning 50% more than they were before the pandemic.
Competitive pay rates paired with the guaranteed hours outlined above make for an unbeatable combination.
Schedule and location flexibility
Being a travel nurse means becoming a free agent in the workforce. This flexibility allows you to find work close to the places that suit you and your family, such as near grandparents or where your spouse’s job takes them. You can also select placements that fit your schedule or opt for assignments in destinations that intrigue or excite you.
You can even choose placements close to home and still reap many of the benefits that travel nursing offers.
More than anything, home health travel nursing will give you ample opportunity to flex your care muscles and have a positive impact on the lives of your patients. One-on-one interactions will afford you the chance to learn more about the community where you work and get to know it better.
Current demand for home health nursing
Home health nursing demand is steady, with ample job openings in various markets. This is in response to a variety of factors, including new healthcare norms from patients, providers, and facilities alike.
“The market is shifting towards being more like a home health market for travel contracts versus hospital acute because the hospitals are relying on [Medicare] funding,” Jen says.
How to become a home health travel nurse
RNnetwork can help interested nurses find home health travel assignments, but applicants must meet certain requirements.
Generally speaking, home health nurses who become travelers have already done home health nursing in a non-travel setting.
Here are some other requirements for working a home health travel assignment with RNnetwork:
- Must have at least one full year of experience as a home health nurse in the last three years
- Must have experience working as a home health nurse with geriatric patients on Medicare
- Must be familiar with Medicare documentation (OASIS) and comfortable conducting admissions within the system
Unfortunately, pediatric home care doesn’t meet these requirements because nearly all RNnetwork home health travel nursing placements will be with older patients.
Home health nurses can benefit from travel nursing
Independent work, competitive and reliable compensation, travel opportunities, and a flexible schedule — there are a lot of benefits associated with home health travel nursing.
If you’re interested in taking your home health career on the road, give us a call at (561) 862-0011 to speak with a consultant or view today’s home health job opportunities below.