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What is Travel Nursing? How to Travel the World as a Nurse

What is Travel Nursing? How to Travel the World as a Nurse

Today I wanted to chat a little bit about travel nursing. I feel like the definition of a travel nurse has very different meanings to different people. When I personally talk about travel nursing I’m talking about travelling whilst working as a nurse, something I’ve been doing for the past two years. 

If you’ve been following my adventure for a while then you’ll know that I’ve been a nurse in the United Kingdom, Australia and I’m now nursing in New Zealand – what an adventure it has been so far. I thought I’d take this time to chat specifically about travel nursing, what to expect and a few tips on how to start looking into becoming a travel nurse (but honestly, that’s for a whole other post in itself so stay tuned)!

So, perhaps you’ve heard the term travel nurse thrown around but you actually have no idea what it means? Well, as I said before to me travel nursing is someone who travels whilst nursing at the same time. There are so many different ways of doing this from moving to a whole new country to travelling around your own country whilst taking on different nursing assignments/jobs.

Travel Nursing VS Agency Nursing – What’s the Difference? 

When you start to think about travel nursing don’t get too hung up on different terms/titles. 

As well as ‘travel nurse’ you’ll also hear other terms thrown around like agency nurse. From my experience over the last few years ‘travel nursing’ is a pretty American term. ‘Agency nurse’ seems to be more of an English term but both are used in Australia and New Zealand. They are basically the exact same thing. 

When deciding to become a travel nurse it usually means joining some form of nursing agency. A nursing agency is a business that employs nurses and sends them on assignments to places that require the specific skill set that the nurse has. Essentially a travel/agency nurse is usually someone who is part of an agency rather than someone who is employed by a hospital/part of a unit or team. 

Example: An ICU nurse with 4 years experience will most likely be sent on assignments involving, but not limited, to ICU. 

There’s a whole catalogue of different ways you can work for an agency but the most popular routes are:

  • Casually 
  • Full-Time/Part-Time 
  • Contracted 

I worked for the agency Health Care Australia in Australia (funnily enough) and had some of the best moments of my career to date. 

Different Types of Travel Nursing 

One aspect of travel that I’d like to make clear is that agency or travel nursing doesn’t always mean freedom. It all depends on what type of work you take on with the agency you join. 

Casual Nursing with an Agency 

This is the type of work where you will get the most freedom whilst travelling and working as a nurse. This is exactly what I did for a year in Australia. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the flexibility to live in two different states and take over 3 months off to travel. I got to choose my shifts and choose when I wanted time off which was perfect.

The agency took into account my skill set and experience and then placed me in hospital settings that matched those. I was sent a shift and then I could decide whether or not to accept that shift. There were no set hours that I was required to work and I could take time off whenever I wanted too. It was honestly the perfect way to keep nursing whilst living in Australia. I was able to take my life back into my own hands and keep myself well balanced.

Being able to maintain a healthier ‘work-life balance’ is one of the main reasons I’m a huge fan of casual nursing. 

However, as wonderful as that sounds there are some things to take into consideration when you decide to work on a casual basis. 

Hours are not guaranteed. Some weeks I’d have plenty of shifts and others not so many. There’s often no sick, maternity or holiday pay. If these things are important to you it’s a good idea to keep them in mind before taking casual nursing full time. Of course, it all depends on the agency you work for as some do offer sick pay/holiday pay/maternity pay incentives so just do the research beforehand. 

Full-Time Nursing with An Agency 

Some agencies also take on nurses full time meaning they have to give you full-time hours. This essentially means that you get first dibs on the shifts that are available before the casual nurses. Every agency is different but some may require that you must accept the shifts they offer without question if you’re working on a full-time basis. If you do work for an agency full-time they often will send you where the work. This means you can be at a different hospital on a different ward every shift which can be challenging mentally – again another story for a whole new post so make sure you’re following along. 

Short or Long Term Contracts via An Agency 

Sometimes agencies will offer short or long term contracts within a certain hospital or care setting. For example, a children’s ward in Sydney may be looking for a nurse for a block of 14 weeks. If they are having trouble hiring someone they often reach out to agencies to see if they have any nurses who would be interested in filling in this assignment. 

I’ve never taken such an assignment so I can’t comment too much but I would think you have to see out the assignment until the end once a contract is signed. You can definitely take these if you usually work casually too. 

In the United States, some nurses become travel nurses full time and are sent all over the country on assignments. I’ve met nurses online who literally move from state to state in the US as a travel nurse. I think this is a brilliant way to see a country and keep your nursing career firmly intact.

If you’re a nurse in the USA considering travel nursing then you have to follow Kylee from Passports and Preemies! 

Other Ways to Nurse Whilst Travelling 

You don’t have to join a nursing agency to travel and nurse it’s just a very popular route especially casually because of the freedom. But, in some countries agency nursing just isn’t very popular. 

Take New Zealand for example, they do have nursing agencies but the hospitals don’t use unless they really have to. This means work could be a little sparse which is a big risk in a new country. 

Always do your research first, phone the agencies and ask them how the work is where you want to go. Due to the lack of agency nursing in New Zealand, I worked a permanent contract again whilst living in Wellington.

Once you’re a registered nurse in the country you want to travel to you can apply for any job you want as long as you meet the criteria they’re asking for. 

Hospital Bank/Pool

Most hospitals around the world have their own ‘pool’ or ‘bank’ of staff. This is similar to agency nursing but you’re employed by the hospital or care setting. When a unit in the hospital it short-staffed they send you there. This is a great way to still work casually if a hospital doesn’t really use an agency. Hospitals will often prefer to use their own pool or bank because agency nurses come at a higher rate!

Permanent Contracts 

Agency nursing or casual nursing really isn’t for some people and that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel and nurse!

Reach out to hospitals you think you’d like to work at and chat with the manager about what options you may have. Most big hospitals will have someone who dedicates their time to helping and giving information to overseas nurses. 

I’m a huge advocate for both travelling and nursing, I think it’s pretty amazing if you can do both! I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to travel to both New Zealand and Australia whilst keeping my career firmly intact. I might not be as far along in my career in terms of ‘progression’ as some of my peers that I went to school with but nursing around the world has added so much value to my career! 

If you’re thinking about becoming a travel nurse in Australia or New Zealand then don’t hesitate to send me an email with any questions you might have! Even if you have any questions about nursing in the UK feel free to ask me. I obviously trained in the UK so don’t have any experience in applying for registration as an overseas nurse but I can definitely point you in the direction of some people who have! 

I hope some of you have found this post useful and possibly even inspired you to take a look into becoming a travel nurse. Either way, make sure you’re following me along on Instagram and subscribe to Alicia Overseas in the side-bar. I have some very exciting posts all-around travel nursing coming up! If you did enjoy this post I would love it if you could share it with your friends!

Are you thinking about travelling the world as a nurse but unsure how to do it? Well in this post I'm busting the myths about the term 'travel nurse' and going into details on how you could travel the world whilst being a nurse! #nursing #travelnursing #registerednurse #nursingaustralia #nurseabroad
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Happy Travels and Happy Nursing, 


New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses

New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses

Qualifying as a nurse was the proudest day of my life. As was the moment I stood in Manchester airport in 2018, waiting to take off to travel 10,000 miles to the other side of the world. Becoming a nurse and travelling to Australia were my two biggest milestones in my life and now that I’ve made both happen I’m making more and more of my dreams come true.

Australia was just the start of my travelling adventures and unbeknown to me it would only be the start of my travel nursing adventure too. A year later I’m now exploring the majestic island of New Zealand and of course, I’m keeping my career on track too.

You’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while then I’m a huge advocate for travelling whilst nursing at the same time! Before I took the plunge I thought it would be so hard to get registered in other countries. I thought the processes would be long and expensive. Whilst in some respects that is true, it’s all 100% worth it in my eyes! I create these posts about getting registered do help nurses like you feel a little reassured that whilst these processes can be daunting they really aren’t that bad!

In this particular post, I’m giving some insight into my experience of the New Zealand nursing registration for international nurses process.

Disclosure: Please note that this post is my personal experience only. This is not immigration advice. This information was correct at my time of application and may differ from the current requirements. This is simply the experience I had when applying for nursing registration in New Zealand. 

Why Register as a Nurse in New Zealand?

After travelling to Australia whilst nursing for a year I didn’t want to start travelling again and leave my career behind. Right now, I can’t imagine doing anything other than nursing so, I try to take it everywhere I can. Since the requirements are similar to the UK and Australia and they speak English in New Zealand I figured that I’d get my registration in New Zealand too. Getting my nursing registration in New Zealand was actually the simplest process I’ve ever been through when it comes to nursing. If you’re a fellow nurse reading this then you’ll know how much paperwork we often find ourselves filling out! 

Luckily getting my registration as an international nurse in New Zealand was straight forward. But that’s because I’m already registered with AHPRA in Australia. For my guide on getting registered with AHPRA as an international nurse check out this post. If you are registered as a nurse in Australia you can apply for registration in New Zealand via the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997. 

What is the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act for international nurses?

The Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act is an agreement that the New Zealand Nursing Council have with AHPRA. If you’re registered as a nurse in Australia then you can become registered in New Zealand through this mutual agreement between the two countries. This agreement is for anyone who is registered in Australia not, just international nurses. Bear in mind that you have to be on active on the AHPRA register. So, you need to keep paying AHPRA registration for as long as you want to be a registered international nurse in New Zealand. In the rest of this post, I’m going to give some tips on applying for New Zealand Registration as an International Nurse via the Trans-Tasman agreement and applying for a work visa. 

Becoming a nurse in yet another country is so rewarding. Being able to care for people all over the world is a great blessing and in this post I share how you can too! Getting registered in different countries can be a nightmare with lots of paper work so here I've broken down all the tips you need to becoming a Registered Nursing in New Zealand | How to Become a Registered Nurse in New Zealand | #nursing #travelnurse #travelnursing #nursingnewzealand
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Before You Apply for New Zealand Nursing Registration as an International Nurse

Before applying for your registration in New Zealand is always good to do some research first. Nursing in New Zealand is different compared to Australia. Australia uses agency nurses a lot in most big cities. This allows nurses to have a lot of flexibility and seeing the country as well. In New Zealand, they don’t use agency nursing very much, not in the same way they do in Australia anyway. So its good to do some research on what jobs are available around New Zealand. It’s wise to do so before spending time and money to get registered. It’s also good to do some reading on the New Zealand Nursing Council website to ensure you meet the requirements of becoming a registered nurse in New Zealand. 

Here are some useful links to consider taking a look at before applying for registration: 

How to Apply for New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses via The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 

To apply for New Zealand nursing registration as an international nurse you’ll need to create an account on the nursing council website. You can apply for the registration online which makes the process super quick. After completing the registration form the processing time for gaining registration in New Zealand via the Mutual Recognition is 5-10 working days. You’ll need to get some documents certifying before sending off the application form. The documents I needed to get certified were: 

  • Copy of Passport Certified
  • Certified Copy of Original Nursing Qualification – original nursing certificate from the university you attended.
  • Certified Copy of AHPRA Registration – it is acceptable to use the downloaded copy from AHPRA online. You’ll need to print it out to show the Justice of the Peace but you can show the original on your phone. 

These are the documents that I had to get certified as of August 2019. The documents differ depending on your application for example if you’ve changed your name. So make sure you go through the application form before getting anything certified. 

Once the documents are certified simply upload them online to the application form and send it off. It’s really simple and my registration only took 6 days to come back. 

Certifying Documents in New Zealand and Australia 

Getting documents certified in New Zealand and Australia is free, unlike the UK where it does cost. It cost me 70 GBP for six items certifying when I first applied for my AHPRA registration. You can Google the nearest Justice of the Peace or Notary of the Public for times closest to you. If you’re in Australia and want to start working in New Zealand as soon as you land then make sure you complete the application form in Australia.

How Much Does the New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses Cost?

Nursing registration in New Zealand for international nurses does cost like everything else in life. The fee to apply for the registration through the Trans Tasman Recognition Act is a non-refundable $340. I don’t know if that means no refund if they don’t accept your registration application, you’ll have to some research into that. But if you’re registered in Australia there shouldn’t be a problem for you, hopefully. 

Annual Practising Certificate for International Nurses in New Zealand 

After your registrations as an international nurse has been approved, you’ll then need an Annual Practising Certificate (APC) in New Zealand to be able to practise. This is essentially like paying your registration fee every year in the UK or Australia. This keeps you on the registration for another year. It threw me off slightly after paying for the registration as I was unaware I’d need to do this as well. It’s really simple once your registration has been approved online you’ll be taken the page where you pay for your APC. For one year it cost me $137.50 and your renewal date will be the month that your birthday falls. 

So altogether the cost of registering in New Zealand as an international nurse for me was $477.50 or 239 GBP. It is expensive but it’s so rewarding to be able to travel the world whilst keeping a nursing career. New Zealand has been an easy country to transition to as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse (NICU) as it is very similar to Australia. So far I haven’t noticed a big difference in any drugs or main practices. Australia and New Zealand work very closely together in terms of evidence-based practice.

After paying for the APC you should be able to nurse in New Zealand. The New Zealand Nursing Council may request some Certificates of Good Standing from other nursing bodies you’ve worked under. But it will be different for each individual application. As a UK and Australian registered nurse, I didn’t need to provide any extra documentation.

Applying for a Work Visa in New Zealand 

A question that I often get asked is if you need a visa before applying for nursing registration is if you need a visa first. I guess that’s entirely up to you. You don’t need to show proof of a current visa when applying for nursing registration via the Trans Tasman agreement but I think it’s always sensible to get a visa first. To be able to work in New Zealand you need a work visa. So there isn’t much point in applying for registration if you aren’t eligible to work in the country. The process of getting a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand is quite straight forward if you’re eligible. I can’t speak for any other work visas here in New Zealand as I’ve personally only applied for a Working Holiday Visa. 

I hope you enjoyed this post on applying for New Zealand nursing registration for international nurses and I really hope you found it helpful. It is relatively straight forward to apply via the Trans-Tasman agreement. If you are applying for registration straight to New Zealand then the process will be a lot more complex.

I’ve got a whole post on gaining AHPRA registration in Australia which you will find useful if you’re heading out to Australia first! I can’t recommend nursing in Australia more, the pay is great and opportunities are everywhere. I wrote a post on my experience of nursing in Australia here too which you might find helpful. 

If you did enjoy this post then I would so grateful if you could share it!

Becoming a nurse in yet another country is so rewarding. Being able to care for people all over the world is a great blessing and in this post I share how you can too! Getting registered in different countries can be a nightmare with lots of paper work so here I've broken down all the tips you need to becoming a Registered Nursing in New Zealand | How to Become a Registered Nurse in New Zealand | #nursing #travelnurse #travelnursingnewzealand #nursingnewzealand
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