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Independent Nurse Contractor

Independent nurse contractors, sometimes considered travel nurses, are registered nurses who offer their services via contracts with healthcare providers. They can work in virtually any setting, including hospitals, home health care, nursing homes and the offices of physicians. Independent nurse contractors can help fill the gap for nursing services in areas where the nursing shortage is particularly severe, and often charge by the hour. Many are self-employed and work for nursing or health care agencies. Independent nurse contractors are responsible for typical nursing duties, such as taking patient medical history, assessing and diagnosing injuries or illnesses, creating treatment plans and educating patients on living healthy lifestyles.

Before you can become an independent nurse contractor, you must first become a registered nurse (RN). The two main ways of doing this are associate degree programs and bachelor’s degree programs offered by accredited schools of nursing. You can obtain these degrees at traditional universities, online universities, technical/vocational schools and community colleges. RN licensure is obtained by taking a national examination called the NCLEX-RN. Many people gain experience by working for traditional employers, such as hospitals or medical clinics before seeking out agency employment. Certification in areas such as emergency room nursing, critical care and intensive care nursing will greatly improve your job prospects as a contract nurse.

Because independent nurse contractors work in practically any healthcare setting, they have the potential to earn vastly different salaries. One of the best ways to gauge earnings is by looking at the salaries of RNs in general. The average annual salary of an RN is $62,450, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau also reports that the nursing profession is projected to grow 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, making job prospects excellent. One advantage of this job is that you can choose which days and how many hours you wish to work, rather than having your employer set your schedule.