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Crisis Nurse Career Guide

A crisis nurse is a nurse who reacts to natural catastrophes or medical emergencies and works in disaster-stricken areas. Consider Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, and COVID-19 in New York City. Travel nursing assignments are common for crisis nurses. These jobs are available quickly, pay well, and may be located anywhere in the country depending on the demand. When opportunities arise, be prepared to drop everything and go!


A crisis nurse is a registered nurse who takes a travel crisis contract in an area where there is an immediate need for additional personnel. These are particularly unique roles designed to attract nurses to a certain location. When signing these contracts, be cautious because these nurses are frequently the first to be let go due to their high salary. These are frequently transitory and short-term occupations. A crisis nurse contract is typically 2-6 weeks long, however it may be extended depending on the demand. A crisis travel nurse contract may only be obtained through one of the 340 travel nurse staffing firms in the United States. The Joint Commission has certified 110 of the 340 businesses.

To become a Crisis Nurse you should be:

  • Flexible

  • Ready to leave it all behind

  • Willing and capable of assisting the hospital and unit in any manner

  • Encourages coworkers

Crisis nurses will be required to assist in any manner they can, including floating to other hospital units or neighboring hospitals. To be a crisis nurse, you must be a team player who is willing to step into action when necessary.

Tasks and Responsibilities

Regular nurses who work in high-pressure, fast-paced environments during a national or statewide medical emergency are known as crisis nurses. When applying for Crisis Travel Nurse employment, nurses should read their contracts thoroughly. Nurses are frequently required to work more than 36 hours a week under these contracts. Most will take between 48 and 60 hours, but some may take longer. Yes, overtime pay is provided for hours worked above 40 each week, but keep in mind the physical toll it might have. During these roles, you will not be allowed to choose your own schedule. There will be no restrictions. Do not apply for these professions if you lack the skill. A nurse who expects or demands a set timetable is unlikely to get recruited.


Depending on the area, healthcare system, and contract, the salary for these roles might be outrageous. ICU roles are sometimes more lucrative than medical surgery nurse employment. The "Crisis Rate" assignments are the most well-known and well-paid nurse travel assignments.

However, under a crisis nursing contract, it's critical to look at the particular split of remuneration. Consider the following:

  • How much money do you get after taxes?

  • What is the starting point? What is the rate of overtime?

  • Is there a fee for quarantine?

  • Is there any additional risk pay?

  • Is there a stipend for housing?

Pay for these roles is frequently non-negotiable and unmatchable by other businesses. The majority of travel nurse agencies who manage these contracts advise against shopping around. Although the salary for nurses in various cities may vary significantly, the pay for nurses in the same city is usually consistent.

According to industry experts, crisis pay rates can range from 10% to 100% greater than regular travel nurse compensation at the same hospital, and even more than staff nursing posts. Because these occupations are for a limited time and have extremely fixed start and finish dates, they frequently do not provide perks. Contracts in times of crisis are seldom extended.

How to Become a Crisis Nurse

Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN

Step 3: Obtain Experience.

You should have at least two years of nursing experience before working as a crisis nurse.

Step 4: Acquire Advanced Certifications

While there are no national nursing qualifications for Crisis Nurses, possessing advanced RN credentials might make a person more appealing to institutions. This might be the determining factor in securing a highly wanted employment at a time of crisis and limited contracts. There are several nationally recognized certificates available, including

  • CDN - Certified Dialysis Nurse

  • CHN - Certified Nephrology Professional

  • CMSRN - Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse

  • CNN - Certified Nephrology Nurse

  • CNOR - Certified Nurse Operating Room

  • CPAN - Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse

Step 5: Apply to Crisis Nursing Positions

When a healthcare emergency or natural disaster strikes – apply to crisis nursing positions through travel nurse staffing agencies.

Step 6: Be Prepared to Begin at Any Moment

Because crisis nursing roles can arise at any time, you must be prepared to leave everything and go at the drop of a hat.


There is currently no precise data on the predicted rise of crisis nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3,059,800 Registered Nurses in the United States in 2018. By 2028, an extra 371,500 nurses will be required, representing a 12 percent increase. This figure is anticipated to rise much more as the population ages.

Nurses that specialize in crisis circumstances are known as crisis nurses. It's tough to say what this position's future holds, but with the current epidemic and natural disasters like hurricanes, the demand for crisis nurses is critical.

Continuing Education

Crisis nurses must maintain the same level of education as regular registered nurses. This will differ from state to state. A Crisis Nurse does not have any special CEU requirements.

CEU requirements are frequently not required or delayed during national situations necessitating an urgent infusion of healthcare staff. This allows interested and qualified nurses to apply for these vacancies right away and be accepted. In most cases, an individual must fill out an application, complete a certain amount of CEU hours, and pay a small cost in order to renew their RN license. Each state has its own standards, so verify with your state's nursing board before filing for a license renewal.

The following are some examples of RN continuing education requirements:

  • Arkansas - 15 contact hours every 2 years

  • Illinois - 20 contact hours every 2 years

  • Florida - 24 contact hours every 2 years

  • Iowa - 36 hours every 2 years

  • Pennsylvania - 30 contact hours every 2 years

CEUs are not required in all states to keep your RN license current. Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, and Indiana are just a few examples. New York, Minnesota, and Kentucky are among the states that require HIV/AIDS education. Nurses should verify with their state's RN certifying organization for specific CEU requirements.

Other Resources

During a period of unrest in a given place, crisis nurse roles meet a critical demand. These nurses take a risky step into the unknown to assist their colleagues and patients. The labor is sometimes difficult, the hours are long, and supplies are scarce, yet the financial and personal rewards may be enormous.

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