Canadian working as a U.S. Travel Nurse

As a Canadian citizen, Axis Traveler Carrie Nordstrom had always dreamt of exploring new horizons. The opportunity of becoming a Canadian travel nurse working in the U.S. allowed her to not only live her dream, but also provided Carrie with a new perspective on the healthcare system. Most importantly, becoming a traveler renewed her love for working as a nurse.

Continue to read a first-hand experience from a Canadian travel nurse who is working in the United States. She touches on the documentation and border crossing process and why she decided to come to the States.

How did you become interested in travel nursing in the U.S. while residing in Canada?

I went back to school later in life and I was looking for a change in my career after working bedside in Canada. I was finding myself becoming stretched thin and overworked. Working as a nurse in Canada, the need for more flexibility, PTO and working extra hours begins to take a toll quickly.

This wasn’t what I expected when I wanted to be a nurse, so I decided to take the leap and look into travel nursing. Making the transition has been the best change for me and fulfilling what I was looking for in a nursing career.

What are key differences between a Canadian travel nurse providing healthcare in Canada vs the U.S.? 

· Ratios in the U.S. allow me to have more of a personable aspect
· I feel much more appreciation in the States working as a nurse than I did in Canada
· The flexibility that I have in the U.S. is much better than what I had in Canada
· I didn’t get any vacation time because I was low in seniority – the last year I worked in Canada, I didn’t get a single vacation day in Canada.

What was the experience of crossing the border like?

First, I had to apply for a TN Visa, which doesn’t take long to receive through customs. When you arrive at customs, they take you into a room and ask you questions before approving your travel. The process can be intimidating, but it was a reasonably smooth process.

To work in the U.S., I had to print all my documents, take credentialing classes and submit my education courses. Once I had all those documents submitted and approved, I could come to the U.S. to work. It doesn’t happen overnight; it can take 4-5 months to get everything in order if this is something you’re considering.

Since my education took place in Canada, I couldn’t apply for the compact nurse license. I had to apply for individual state licensing. 

What advice would you share with a Canadian travel nurse looking to come to the U.S. to work?

Many people I worked with back home are now traveling, but remain in Canada. There is a misconception about healthcare in the United States. Many Canadians believe insurance plays a negative factor in patient visits. There is also a large population of nurses who fear their nursing license is at a much higher risk of being revoked, but I have found this to be further from the truth.

Working as a nurse here in the U.S. is a much more positive experience than at home in Canada. It’s not as scary as most Canadian travelers make it out to be. I’m enjoying where I am working, expanding my knowledge and being able to work in new facilities and see how they function.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that healthcare isn’t the greatest in Canada. The country hasn’t invested in its nurses, doctors, therapists, etc. as they deserve. There is a lack of appreciation, as hospitals are incredibly understaffed.

Any advice you’d like to share on getting into Travel Nursing?

It can be nerve-wracking, but after becoming a travel nurse, I have found my love for nursing again. I now experience what I have always anticipated and expected out of my career. Taking on the opportunity to travel in the United States has given me more responsibility, but it’s what I longed for.


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Mackenzie Bolte