Med-surg travel nurse jobs

Nomad Health helps med-surg travel nurses find and secure high-paying travel jobs nationwide in hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, surgery centers, and more. If you're considering applying for a med-surg travel nurse job, use the checklist below to see if you're a good match for the travel job you're applying for.

Med-surg travel nurse job requirements

To qualify for a med-surg travel nurse job at Nomad Health, you must meet certain requirements that are specific to the job. It’s important to know that each med-surg travel nurse job may have slightly different requirements based on the location and needs of the facility. However, the following requirements serve as a general checklist for most med-surg travel nurse jobs.

Educational requirements

At a minimum, med-surg travel nurse jobs require a college education from an accredited nursing program. You will need either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Keep in mind that some facilities may prefer a four-year bachelor's degree.

Licensure requirements

All med-surg travel nurse jobs require an active RN license in the state where you plan on working. If the state is part of the nursing compact, a multistate nursing license may be accepted by facilities. If you are applying for a med-surg travel nurse job in a state you haven’t worked in before, be prepared to obtain a license in that state.

Experience requirements

Many med-surg travel nurse jobs on Nomad require you to have at least 12-36 months of experience in the field, although this can vary depending on the facility and its needs. Some facilities may also require you to possess specialized skills in addition to the above requirements.

Certification requirements

Med-surg travel nurse hiring managers are often looking for candidates who possess specific certifications. If you are offered a travel nurse job in a med-surg unit, you may be asked to obtain certain certifications before you can begin working. The most common required certifications for med-surg travel nurse jobs are:

  • Basic life support (BLS)
  • Advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS)
  • National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS)

Competency requirements

Medical-surgical travel nurse jobs require nurses to be proficient in using technology and medical equipment found commonly on a med-surg unit. Examples of equipment and tools you may be required to have experience with include:

Monitoring equipment

In a medical-surgical unit, you’ll need a solid understanding of how to operate monitoring devices such as cardiac telemetry monitors, pulse oximeters, blood pressure monitors, and electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) machines.

Respiratory equipment

Many med-surg travel nurses encounter patients needing respiratory support. CPAP, nasal cannulas, tracheostomy masks, oxygen nebulizers, and suction devices are considered common tools on a med-surg floor.

Diagnostic equipment

Med-surg travel nurses may be tasked with assisting in diagnostic procedures, so a basic understanding of X-ray machines, ultrasound machines, bladder scanners, CT scanners, and MRI machines is required.

Point-of-care testing devices

Med-surg travel nurses use handheld devices to perform rapid tests including blood glucose monitoring.

Intravenous (IV) equipment

Administering fluids and medications, and placing and managing IV lines are common responsibilities for med-surg travel nurses.

Wound care tools

Med-surg travel nurses may handle sterile gloves, assess wounds, and place dressings to care for patients with wounds.

Procedural equipment

Med-surg travel nurses should know how to assist other medical professionals with common procedures such as paracentesis, JP drain removal, and chest tube removal.

Supply and equipment readiness

Med-surg travel nurse jobs require RNs to keep crash carts updated, including checking and replacing outdated or expired items. Med-surg travel nurses should also know where to find emergency equipment such as defibrillators and emergency airway kits.

Emergency protocols

Anyone working a med-surg travel nurse job should know how to call for a code and understand how to quickly get support and notify the appropriate providers.

Soft skill job requirements

Med-surg travel nurse jobs require nurses to demonstrate specific soft skills, including:

Stress management

A medical-surgical floor can be a stressful environment to work in. Successful med-surg travel nurses find ways to manage the demands of floor nursing without sacrificing the quality of patient care and self-care.


As a travel med-surg nurse, you must be able to easily adapt to new floor workflows, patient populations, coworkers, charting systems, and equipment.


Med-surg room travel nurse jobs require travel nurses to be able to make decisions independently, especially during critical scenarios.

Communication and collaboration

While autonomy is important, it’s equally important for those working med-surg travel nurse jobs to collaborate with other team members such as physicians and respiratory therapists while dealing with conflict professionally. Having excellent communication skills with patient families who may be experiencing difficult emotions is also vital.

Miscellaneous med-surg travel nurse job requirements

Immunization requirements

To secure a med-surg travel nurse job, you will need to be up to date on your immunizations according to facility policy. This may include recent flu vaccines, TB tests, hepatitis B titers, and more.

Background check and drug screen

Pre-employment background checks and drug screenings are an important part of obtaining a med-surg travel nurse job. Verifying employment history and reference are also common procedures for each new assignment. Many travel agencies will pay for expenses related to background checks and drug screening.

Med-surg travel RN job duties and responsibilities

Med-surg travel nurse job duties may range from post-op care to medication administration. Med-surg travel nurses usually perform the same duties and responsibilities as staff med-surg nurses; one difference is that travel med-surg nurses are expected to adapt quickly to new work environments with a minimal orientation period. It’s important to note that every med-surg travel nurse job comes with its own set of unique duties and responsibilities based on the facility’s needs.

Patient care

The most important duty of med-surg travel nurse jobs is safe, evidence-based patient care. Meds-surg nurses work with patients who require medical intervention or monitoring for a wide variety of reasons; travel med-surg nurses must use their clinical judgment and recognize when a situation requires immediate intervention rather than be prioritized for later. They may also see a range of medical conditions and surgical conditions. Routine patient care tasks include understanding and taking vital signs, assessing previous and current clinical presentation and history, wound care, administering medications, and monitoring reactions. Other tasks include placing IVs, performing reassessments, responding to emergencies, and giving discharge instructions and education.

Pre and post-operative care

Med-surg travel nurses may assist medical teams with procedures and participate in pre and post-operative care. Some of the most common procedures medical-surgical travel nurse jobs may require experience for are:

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Stroke alerts
  • Venipuncture and IV insertion
  • Medication administration
  • Wound care
  • Nasogastric (NG) and orogastric (OG) tube insertion
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Defibrillation
  • Psychiatric crisis management
  • Patient transport

Patient monitoring

Med-surg travel nurses continuously monitor patient status including vital signs, consciousness level, and pain level. Through monitoring, these nurses can adjust care plans based on patient feedback and data from monitoring equipment such as telemetry monitors, labs, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximetry, and more.

Patient and family education

Part of med-surg travel nursing jobs is to educate family members about the patient’s condition, prognosis, and care needs. Med-surg travel nurses explain and break down complex medical terminology and explain procedures in a way that is easier to understand for families and patient guardians who may need to make important care decisions.


Documentation is an important responsibility of med-surg travel nurse jobs because it allows for a timely, accurate record of observations and interventions performed. Med-surg travel nurses are responsible for documenting and securing information before and after surgery, and routine care. This may include:

  • Procedure notes
  • Patient conditions
  • Treatment notes
  • Patient responses
  • Time outs
  • Consent
  • Vital signs

Discharge planning

Med-surg travel nurse jobs require nurses to prepare and present discharge instructions to patients. This may include a summary of the patient's visit and treatments administered, post-op care instructions, and medication information if needed. Med-Surg travel nurses may also need to coordinate with social services and case management if post-discharge care is needed.

Miscellaneous med-surg travel nurse job responsibilities

Remember, no travel job is the same. Every med-surg travel nurse job comes with its own set of duties and responsibilities based on the current needs of the healthcare facility hiring for the role. While the above duties and responsibilities are common across many med-surg travel nurse jobs, individual travel jobs listed on Nomad Health may come with duties outside of this scope. If you have questions about certain med-surg travel nurse jobs on Nomad, reach out to a Nomad Navigator.

Why consider a med-surg travel nurse job?

There are plenty of good reasons why considering a med-surg travel nurse job is a smart move. From financial incentives to personal growth, a travel job might be just what you need to take the next step in your nursing career.

High demand for med-surg travel nurses

With an increase in acute and chronic conditions and an aging population living longer than ever, med-surg travel nurse jobs remain in demand. Because the demand is high, you can sleep easy knowing that your job is secure and less susceptible to economic downturns.

Competitive pay

Med-surg travel nurse jobs may pay more than staff med-surg jobs. Many things can impact travel pay including your experience, education, location, credentials, and facility needs. When you browse med-surg travel nurse jobs on Nomad, you’ll see a pay breakdown (including the travel stipend) of every job so you know exactly how you can earn before you apply.


Med-surg travel nurse jobs provide an opportunity to work with new technologies. Common technology that med-surg travel nurses get exposure to include:

  • Electronic health records (EHR) systems
  • Cardiac monitors
  • Manual and automated external defibrillators (AEDs)
  • Barcode medication administration (BCMA) systems
  • Fall alarms
  • Wound vacs

Interdisciplinary collaboration

Med-surg travel nurse jobs allow you to collaborate with interdisciplinary healthcare staff; this may include physicians, staff nurses, respiratory techs, and even surgical techs. Working closely with these other healthcare professionals will help broaden your perspective on patient care and grow your skill set.

Continuous learning

Med-surg travel nurse jobs can put you on the fast track to learning about the latest education, techniques, treatments, and equipment used in the field. If you’re interested in getting ahead of the curve, applying for a med-surg travel nurse job might be right for you.

Visit new locations

One of the biggest perks of med-surg travel nurse jobs is deciding where you want to work. From the city to the facility, it’s up to you. Accepting med-surg travel nurse jobs in new locations also exposes you to new facilities and patient populations you may not experience in a regular staff position.

Tips for finding the best med-surg travel nurse jobs

Most nurses agree that the best med-surg travel nurse jobs offer a combination of high compensation and opportunities to expand your clinical experience. However, what makes a med-surg travel nurse job the best usually depends on personal preferences, career goals, and financial goals.

Research med-surg travel nurse job agencies

To find the best med-surg travel nurse job for you, research is key. First, you need to determine which travel agencies offer med-surg travel nurse jobs. Unfortunately, not all agencies work with med-surg travel nurses.

Read travel nurse reviews

Next, you should consider the reputation of the agency you’re thinking of working with. Use a search engine to read testimonials and reviews other med-surg travel nurses have left about the agency. These reviews should give you a general idea of whether the agency meets your standards, and if other med-surg travel nurses recommend them.

Compare job benefits

While pay may often be the most important benefit of med-surg travel nurse jobs, remember that additional perks such as stipends for scrubs, licenses, and travel, along with health insurance and the option to invest in a 401(k) should be factored into the equation. Unlike Nomad, not all agencies offer these types of benefits, so it's important to compare the additional perks before you accept a med-surg travel nurse job.

Top locations for travel med-surg RN jobs

The demand for med-surg travel nurse jobs varies across different states based on factors such as overall demand, the number of healthcare facilities, and the demographics of the regional population. Additionally, states with larger populations and advanced healthcare infrastructure may need more med-surg travel nurses than others.


As one the the largest states, California has many medical facilities in densely populated areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and San Francisco that often hire med-surg travel nurses. California also has strict nurse-to-patient ratio laws, which bodes well for patient safety and nurse satisfaction. Additionally, California’s higher cost of living may result in attractive pay rates.


Colorado's scenic landscapes attract a large population, and the state experiences a demand for healthcare services, particularly in areas with a higher concentration of residents. The state's active lifestyle also contributes to the need for medical professionals.


Because Florida has a significantly older population and an expansive medical system, the demand for travel med-surg travel nurses is high, especially in cities like Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami, and Orlando. Florida also experiences several natural disasters, including hurricanes, which often result in spikes in demand for med-surg travel nurses.


Georgia has thriving metropolitan areas like Atlanta and Savannah which can create a continuous demand for healthcare professionals like med-surg travel nurses. The state's varied demographics and high rural population also create a healthy demand for healthcare services.

North Carolina

North Carolina has a growing and diverse population that has led to an increased demand for healthcare services. The state's mix of urban and rural areas contributes to varying demand for healthcare services, creating opportunities for travel med-surg nurses.

How to prepare for your first med-surg travel nurse job

If it’s your first time accepting a med-surg travel nurse job, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind that will help you feel prepared and ready to go on your first day. Every med-surg travel nurse job is different, but excelling in one or more of these areas may ensure you are set up for success.

Ask about orientation

One of the most important questions you can ask your hiring manager is about the orientation and onboarding process for your med-surg travel nurse job. Knowing how much support you will have at the beginning and during the assignment will help you set realistic expectations for your first week on the job.

Be adaptable

Being adaptable is the key to starting any med-surg travel nurse job. You will need to be prepared for ambiguity and performing tasks that you may have little experience with.

Build relationships

Along the way, remember to network and build relationships with your new colleagues. Connect with other med-surg travel nurses and learn about their experiences with the facility and traveling in general.

Pack wisely

Remember to pack all the essentials you will need for your travel assignment. Depending on where your med-surg travel nurse job is, it may be difficult to find a drug store or other convenience stores for items at the last minute, especially if you’re working in a rural area. We recommend packing extra pairs of scrubs, toiletries, and anything else to make you comfortable during your stay.

See what it's like working a med-surg travel nurse job

Frequently asked questions about med-surg travel RN jobs

Are med-surg travel nurse jobs in high demand?

Yes, med-surg travel nurse jobs remain in high demand. Because the number of patients that require care in a med-surg unit continues to increase, facilities may need extra clinical support from med-surg travel nurses.

How long do medical-surgical travel nurse jobs last?

Med-surg travel nurse job contract length varies depending on the needs of the facility. In general, most med-surg travel nurse job contracts are 13 weeks long, although it’s not uncommon to find contracts that last eight weeks.

What qualifications do I need to get a med-surg travel nurse job?

To qualify for a med-surg travel nurse job, you will need a two or four-year nursing degree, an RN license for the state where you want to work, at least two years of experience working in the field, and basic certifications like BLS, ACLS, and NIHSS. However, each facility has different requirements for med-surg travel nurse jobs, so make sure you review the individual qualifications before you apply.

Can I choose the location for my med-surg travel nurse job?

Yes, you can choose the location for your med-surg travel nurse job. Nomad Health features med-surg travel nurse jobs across the United States. Some are in desirable locations like Hawaii, California, and Florida.

How quickly can I start a med-surg travel nurse job?

How soon you can start your med-surg travel nurse job will depend on the needs of the facility. Sometimes facilities need you to start ASAP, while others may allow you to negotiate a start date based on your convenience.

What kind of support will I have during my med-surg travel nurse job with Nomad?

From the time you apply to the last day of your shift, you’ll get ongoing support from the Nomad Navigators. Once you’re on assignment, you will also have access to Clinical Navigators who are clinicians who have been in your shoes and are equipped to help you navigate any facility or clinical-related issues that may arise.

Do med-surg travel nurse jobs provide opportunities for professional growth?

Yes! Med-surg travel nurse jobs are an excellent way to fast-track professional growth. When you accept a med-surg travel nurse job, you can get exposure to new environments, patient populations, and technology that may help level up your skillset and compensation.