Rapid response nurse administering a shot
Contract Nursing June 30, 2022

By Jennifer Larson, contributor

What You Need to Know About Rapid Response Travel Nursing

If you have some travel nursing experience under your belt, you might be interested in a very specific type of assignment: a rapid response travel nurse contract.

A key to understanding a rapid response travel nursing job is right there in the name: rapid. Sometimes a hospital needs a well-prepared nurse right away. And if you’re available and have some solid nursing skills, you could be the person they’re looking for.

“If they need a nurse to be available in just a couple of weeks’ time, they know they can depend on NurseChoice to provide staffing for their hospital,” says Malesha S., a senior placement manager with NurseChoice.

Could this type of nursing job be right for you?

Qualifications for Rapid Response Nurse Jobs

Readiness and Experience

“How soon can a nurse get here?” is a question that NurseChoice recruiters often hear. Time is of the essence when it comes to rapid response travel nursing job. Sometimes hospitals just need to hire staff right away and can’t afford to wait. They need someone who can arrive and start working quickly--usually in three weeks or less, according to Malesha.

Some examples of times when a hospital might want to hire someone for a rapid response travel nursing job:

  • An understaffed unit in a hospital is struggling with a very high patient census, perhaps the result of a winter season with high flu activity.
  • A nursing unit or floor experiences an outbreak of illness that temporarily sidelines a significant number of the regular nursing staff.

A travel nurse can come in and help stabilize the situation until a hospital can restore its normal staffing balance.

You may be wondering: how long will a rapid response assignment usually last? While a standard travel nursing assignment is 13 weeks long, there’s not really a standard length of time for a rapid response RN job.

“It really varies,” says Malesha. “It could be five weeks. It could be six, seven or even eight weeks. Once or twice, I’ve seen a two-week contract. But it all depends on what the hospital needs.”

Hospitals need a variety of different types of nurses to meet their needs, too. According to Malesha, hospitals frequently need telemetry, med-surg and ICU nurses for rapid response openings. But psych nurses, labor and delivery nurses and other nurse specialists are needed, too.

Most hospitals prefer that you have a couple of years’ of nursing experience, including some travel nursing experience, so you’ll be prepared to hit the ground running.

What You’ll Need to Provide

Once you agree to take on a rapid response travel nursing job, the NurseChoice team springs into action to help you prepare. A credentialing specialist will contact you with a detailed list of requirements, including documents to submit. You will need to provide the following types of credentialing requirements:

  • Background check
  • Medical requirements, including your drug screen, tuberculosis test results, and N95 fit test
  • Written requirements, including a number of forms for the facility where you’ll be working, such as a drug-free workplace commitment, workplace safety agreement, etc.
  • Online testing, which you can access through AMN HealthStream

You’ll also need to provide two recent references and your immunization records. Don’t worry: your credentialing analyst can answer any questions about the documentation that you must provide, and the user-friendly AMN Passport app really streamlines the process.

The key, once again, is the word rapid. Because there’s not much lead time between agreeing to a rapid response assignment and beginning the actual job, you must make sure you stick to the schedule and submit everything on time. After all, this is a well-paying opportunity that you don’t want to miss out on!

The NurseChoice team can also help you arrange your temporary housing and transportation for your assignment.

Rapid Response Jobs Vs. Crisis Nursing Jobs

Sometimes, rapid response travel nursing jobs and crisis nursing jobs are one and the same. A hospital experiencing a crisis due to a natural disaster, a traumatic event, or a pandemic might need to hire and place some nurses quickly. A crisis job will always be a rapid response job.

But not every rapid response assignment is a crisis assignment, Malesha explains. Sometimes a hospital still needs to hire nurses quickly, but it’s not necessarily the result of a crisis. For example, staging for an electronic medical record (EMR) system conversion might generate a rapid need, but it’s not a crisis.

Ready to Try a Rapid Response Contract?

If you tell your NurseChoice recruiter that you’re interested in rapid response opportunities, he or she can keep an eye out for assignments that meet your needs and qualifications.

“This kind of job will build your travel nursing resumé,” says Malesha. “And it’s a great way to network and make friends while you’re on a contract. Plus, it sets you up for future rapid response contracts, since we know you have the experience and knowledge to be successful.”

NurseChoice, an AMN Healthcare company, has hundreds of contract nursing jobs across the U.S., and a team of experts to help you find the ideal assignment.

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