Travel Nursing 101: How to Streamline Onboarding/Compliance

Congratulations! You received your offer, it’s signed, sealed and delivered to your manager and we’re on our way. You’re excited, we’re excited, it’s go time. Time to pack, finalize housing, and map your route to your latest destination. But, ugh, that dreaded compliance email. A laundry list of certifications, immunization and paperwork you have to review, sign and send in. You feel yourself going crossed-eyed and overwhelmed, but don’t fret! We’re here to help you navigate through this to ensure you get to start on time, as planned. Here are our tips to make onboarding as easy and painless as possible!


One of the main ways that you can help the onboarding process go smoothly is by being proactive and ensuring all your certifications and records are easily accessible. Send an email to yourself with all your records, and make a folder within your inbox. That way you can just forward the folder to your agency as soon as your offer confirmation is signed. If you’re inbox is as full as ours, we also recommend utilizing resources like Google Drive to help keep everything organized. You can access your Google Drive from your phone, computer, or tablet, and the first 15GB of data are free.

Having your documents ready to go is key here because if you wait too long to send the items in for review, you may not have enough time to redo anything that’s missing or expired. Every facility has different requirements for immunizations. Some require titers, some want a TB/PPD within 30 days of start, some want a clinical person to verify your documents and so on and so on. By far, having to redo immunizations or obtain additional testing is the part of compliance that delays starts most often. Stay organized so that you can send your compliance documents to your agency as soon as possible.

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Core Records

So, what should you be keeping current and easily accessible? We touch on some unique facility requirements a little later, but for the most part here are the core set of records you should always have up to date.

  • Physical from within one year – should say you are able to do the job without restrictions and free of communicable diseases.
  • MMR – positive titer or two doses of the MMR vaccine. If you have a negative or equivocal titer, you will need the full series again
  • Varicella – positive titer or two doses of the varicella vaccine. If you have a negative or equivocal titer, you will need the full series again
  • Hepatitis B – positive titer or three doses of the HepB vaccine. If you have a negative or equivocal titer, often a declination is acceptable
  • Tdap – immunization from the past 10 years.
  • TB test – TB skin test, Tspot, or Quantiferon from the past year.
  • Flu vaccination: October-April.
  • N95 Mask Fit Test from within one year – specific mask will be dependent on facility
  • American Heart Association BLS
  • Specialty certifications (e.g: ACLS, PALS, TNCC, NIHSS, NRP, etc.), as needed

Pro-tip: if you’re missing immunizations and your agency sets you up to renew or obtain it, always ask for a copy of your record at the time of your appointment. Some clinics will not provide the immunization or record later if it was paid for by the agency/employer.

Anxious about your next travel nurse interview? Check out these tips!

Facility Requirements

As previously mentioned, some states and facilities have additional requirements that can slow down the onboarding process. However, your agency should inform you about those requirements so that there aren’t any surprises. Examples of unique requirements we’ve seen:

  • Certifications cannot expire during duration of the contract and must be renewed before starting if they do
  • Requirement for titers to be within the last seven years.
  • TB within a certain time frame i.e. six months, 30 days, last two weeks.
  • Pre-orientation modules
  • Fingerprint requirements for state backgrounds in addition to license ones
  • Extensive urine, hair, or blood tests for drug screenings that can take up to 2 weeks to process

This is just a short list of the types of variation in requirements we see from facility to facility. Again, it’s so important to act quickly and stay in constant communication with your recruiter and compliance specialist. If you’re still working, let them know what your work schedule is right away, to help schedule appointments and time to complete modules around that.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember, we’re here to help. You can ask for regular audits along the way to stay on top of what’s still pending, why, and if there’s any further action required from you. With a little time-management, organization, and communication, you can make the onboarding process a really minor hurdle on the way, to what is sure to be, an incredible adventure!

Need more help with compliance?

Get in touch with one of our Rock Star Recruiters today!


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