Healthcare Professionals

What to Expect with Travel Nurse Credentialing and Onboarding


September 14, 2022

Congrats on your travel nursing job! What next? After accepting an assignment, there will be many things on your to do list including finding housing, planning packing, and getting credentialed to work for your facility. What in the heck is travel nurse credentialing you may ask? Let’s take a look!

What is travel nursing credentialing?

Credentialing is a smorgasbord of paperwork, online assessments, drug screens, medical records, and more to actually get your foot in the door at your assignment. You will find some facilities are far easier than others. Some will feel like you’re trying to get top secret security clearance and perhaps your first born child!

At any rate, it’s doable. As long as you stay organized and on top of things, you can do it!

Travel Nurse Onboarding

If this is your first assignment, or even your first assignment with a new company, you will go through an extensive onboarding process. Onboarding is part of the travel nurse credentialing process. It is essentially gathering all the necessary documentation for work as a traveling nurse, as well as company specific requirements including signing your contract, signing up for benefits, accessing a company website and payroll information, and more.

Each company has a slightly different process so just be open and flexible to what they ask! We will go over the general requirements as far as what will be expected of you.

Required Onboarding Documents

Medical Documents

Recent medical records will be required as part of travel nursing credentialing. The good news is, most of this should be up to date … because most hospitals already require all of this for you to work as a nurse. It’s just FINDING where you may have a copy somewhere! 🤦 These medical documents may include:

  • Immunization Records – looking for things such as Hepatitis B immunity/titers and childhood vaccines
  • Last tuberculin skin/blood test
  • Flu Vaccine
  • Fit Test (most hospitals require this already – getting tested for N95 mask for TB exposure)
  • Physical (some require this some don’t, but can be just as simple as your doctor signing a release form or as involved as you going to get an actual physical at a occupational health facility)

Different hospitals have different requirements as to the time frame for submitting all of this. Don’t worry, your recruiter and their compliance department will make sure everything is in order. Whatever you don’t have they will help arrange for you to get done prior to your assignment.

Work Documents

As is in any job for a W-2 employee, you will have to fill out your tax paperwork and 2 forms of ID. I tend to have all of these with me wherever I go!

  • Driver’s License/ID
  • Social Security Card
  • Birth Certificate
  • Copy of voided check for direct deposit


The travel nurse credentialing process will also require you to provide your certifications. This depends on your specialty of course, but examples are ACLS, PALS, BLS, NIHSS, and all the other Ssssess…

That’s a lot of documents to keep up with on your travels right??

Pro Tip: If you’ve haven’t already, create a Kamana profile! Kamana is changing the game when it comes to having all your documents in one secure location, with a spiffy profile you can share with your agency! You can include your references, skills checklists, and so much more!

Drug Screen

The ever present drug screen. Just as in a regular nursing job, you will have to get a urine drug screen prior to each job. This is the only one that without a doubt you will have to do every single time no matter what so you have that to look forward to. If I had a dollar for every specimen of urine I have given over the years … well I could probably buy myself a nice dinner!

Job Specific Testing

Part of getting credentialed for the actual job you have an assignment for is job specific online assessments. This is all based on your speciality.

For example my specialty is preop/pacu. I may have a myriad of assessments including EKG rhythm identification, and some clinical critical thinking assessments specific to preop/pacu, as well as perhaps medication tests related to preop/pacu. As I said though, it varies though depending on your specialty.

Note: Although these assessments supposedly all come from the hospital to be compliant with a particular department, sometimes they can be a BIT excessive. Once I was asked to do a med/surg test for a preop job! And I’d never worked a day in my life as a med/surg nurse (with exception of shadowing as a nursing student)! Luckily, I was able to get that particular one taken off my to do list, but not without some difficulty. That won’t be always the case, but just be mindful if they are asking you to complete a test you have no experience in, ask your recruiter or the compliance department about it.

For anyone who needs an EKG rhythm review, skillstat website is a great resource!

Is all of this travel nurse credentialing paid for by my staffing agency?

Are all of these online assessments, drug screens, and other required items paid for? Well, that all depends on what staffing agency you are working with. 🤔

In my experience most companies tend to pay for SOME if not all of these things, but whether they pay up front or reimburse you later is the question.

Drug Screens, Physicals, & TB tests

Most companies pay for these. The best companies get everything set up for you and you don’t have to pay a dime! For others you may pay a fee for some of these and they reimburse you later or at the end of your contract. 🤔

My advice is to go with companies that take care of everything for you up front. If you do go with another, make SURE you keep receipts and tabs for reimbursement after your contract. It can be a hassle trying to keep up with everything to wait until AFTER your contract, or even half way through it, to get reimbursed.

Online Assessments

This is hit or miss. Typically most of these initial tests including EKG analysis and job specific assessments are just to get your foot in the door of the facility and are not typically paid.

Occasionally you may get paid something like $10/hour or something to do these, but again it’s later down the road in your paycheck so make sure you keep tabs and watch your paychecks.

Pro Tip: If you happen to start receiving the dreaded CBLs (computer based learning) modules, such as Bloodborne Pathogens, Workplace Violence, or Restraints in your to do list before you get to the facility … STOP! Most places will allow you time to get your CBLs done during your orientation.

Why is this important? I once had a recruiter ask me to do all of these before hand, to be paid at $10 hour at a later date. I decided to wait and see how orientation went and if I had time there. Sure enough, I was provided dedicated time by the facility while being paid the regular $21/hour! As many times as I have had to do these CBLs, you better believe I’m getting paid the full hourly amount!! 😉 If worse had come to worse, I could have done them after the first day of orientation.

Although I have never worked at a facility that required you to complete all your CBLs beforehand, there is a chance this could happen. It would depend on the orientation, since some places have longer than others.

Key Travel Nurse Credentialing Takeaways

  • Have all medical records/immunizations available
  • Have your official forms of identification and copy of voided check available
  • Be ready for the beginning of a LOT of online assessments in your life! 🤓
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter about payment/reimbursement for these credentialing items, all they can say is no!

I think that about covers it all! Take a deep breath you got this! 🙂 Happy travels.

Katie Fitts

A travel nurse by day, and travel blogger by choice. Katie is a chaser of adventure and love! Native to Charleston, SC, and having travelled extensively over the US and internationally, Katie has a passion for people, culture, and nature’s beauty

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