Travel Observation RN Jobs

If you are an RN who enjoys observation and wants a job that will keep you constantly on your toes, observation travel nurse jobs may be perfect for you. These types of jobs require you to constantly monitor and assess patients to ensure that they remain safe and healthy. You may also be responsible for providing support and education to patients and their families.

39 Observation Nurse Travel jobs available

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Travel Observation Unit Nurse FAQs

The salary for an observation RN, like many professional nursing practice roles, can vary based on factors such as geographic location, years of experience, level of education, and the specific healthcare setting. As per the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for registered nurses, which includes observation RNs, was $75,330 as of May 2020. However, observation RNs could potentially earn more in larger metropolitan hospitals or with advanced acute care setting experience and education.

An Observation Registered Nurse (RN) plays a specialized role in healthcare, focusing primarily on patients who are on observation status in a hospital. These patients, while not in need of inpatient status, still require close monitoring due to potential or existing health concerns that are not severe enough to necessitate formal admission. Observation unit RNs provide excellent patient care by monitoring these patients' health closely, tracking any changes in their condition, providing necessary treatments, carrying out doctor's orders, and coordinating with the multidisciplinary team. They play an important role in direct patient care and evaluation, helping to determine whether a patient needs to be discharged or requires further hospitalization.

Observation nurses primarily work in hospitals, specifically in the observation unit dedicated to monitoring patients who aren't in need of inpatient status, but whose conditions still necessitate close attention. These specialized units are found in both public and private hospitals, urban and rural. In addition to hospitals, observation RNs can also find employment in ambulatory care centers where quick turn-around and efficient patient care are crucial. Though less common, they may work in long-term care facilities or rehabilitation centers, overseeing patients whose conditions require ongoing evaluation.

Education & License Requirements

A registered nurse needs to complete their associate degree or bachelor's degree at an accredited school and take the National Council Licensure Exam NCLEX -RN Exam, which is a requirement to practice as a registered nurse in the United States. Once the NCLEX certification exam is passed, you meet the requirements by your state license board, and you obtain your RN license, then all that is left is to do is gain the necessary relevant experience and clinical practice.

Following licensure, RNs typically gain experience in a general direct patient care setting. This experience allows nurses to develop the observational, communication and critical thinking skills essential to the role of an observation RN. Pursuing further education or specialty training in the acute care setting or areas like emergency room care or telemetry can be advantageous, although not mandatory.


RNs intending to advance in the observation unit may consider becoming certified in areas such as Acute/Critical Care Nursing (CCRN) or Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN) to demonstrate their expertise and dedication. As with other nursing roles, ongoing certifications in areas such as basic life support, professional development and staying updated with the latest clinical practices is pivotal for success as an observation RN because they can help improve patient outcomes, patient safety and patient care.

While compensation offers can vary greatly depending on the contract or agency offering, pay packages for a travel nurse typically have four major components: hourly taxable wages, meals and incidentals, housing, and travel.

Hourly Pay

Full-time nurses working at a healthcare facility receive a salary, but most travel registered nurses offer hourly wages at a competitive weekly rate. Every pay package for a travel nurse must include a taxable hourly wage, and the amount can vary depending on the shift, location, and specialty required of the assignment.


Housing payments can be included in a payment from a staffing agency. This is typically offered to a travel nurse in two ways. Either the company is providing housing, or the travel nurse is taking the housing stipend. It is more beneficial for the traveler to take the housing stipend for two primary reasons. First, they will have a choice in where they stay. Everyone’s definitions of comfortable and acceptable are different. The second reason the housing stipend is more beneficial for them is that it can be given as a nontaxable amount.

Meals and Incidentals

Also known as per diems, meal and incidental stipends provide a daily budget for daily living expenses for travel nursing professionals. These standards vary depending on the cost of living in cities and states across the country.

Travel Expenses

Travel is the last portion of the pay package. Many recruiters may not even offer travel and instead put that money into the per diems or housing for their travel nurse so they are receiving the benefits over the entire contract length, not just at the very beginning or end of the contract.

While a travel stipend can be used to cover the cost of a flight for the traveler, it is more often than not used to subsidize the traveler's expenses to and from an travel nursing assignment. Travel expenses can be offered as a reimbursement rate per mile, though many agencies will opt to offer a flat rate to and from an assignment.