What to Expect: Traveling Nurse Jobs in Alaska
Known as The Last Frontier, Alaska is an outdoorsman’s paradise. If you’ve ever considered taking an Alaska travel nursing position, there are a lot of things to consider before picking up and moving so far away. Learn more about what you can expect out of traveling nursing jobs in Alaska, as well as what you can do with your downtime.
Can you really see Russia from Alaska? No, at least not from the mainland. There is one spot, known as Little Diomede Island where you can see Russia, but that’s the only point. It’s about halfway between mainland Alaska and Siberia and you might find more polar bears and penguins than people on the island because only 82 people live on the island. While home to this tiny island, Alaska is actually the largest U.S. state by area. It’s bigger than Texas, California and Montana combined. Much of Alaska is owned by the federal government with national forests, national parks and wildlife refuges.
Over 15% of Alaska’s population is Indigenous and half of its total population of under 750,000 lives near Anchorage. Alaska has one of the highest per capita incomes in the United States.
As you’d expect, it’s cold in Alaska. High temperatures can be in the 70s in the summer and as low as just above freezing. In the winter, it’s a different story. In many parts of the state, high temperatures are barely over freezing with average lows as low as –27. Brrr.
Why would someone come to Alaska? Ask five different travel nurses and you’ll probably get five different answers. But based on the photos we get from our travelers, wildlife, fishing, hiking and touring national parks are all reasons people come to Alaska for a traveling assignment. It’s considered a bucket list assignment for many travelers.
Hospitals In Alaska
Alaska has just 11 hospitals and under 13,000 staffed beds for the entire state, not counting the facilities staffed by the U.S. military at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Basset Army Community Hospital at Fort Richardson. In Anchorage, there are four different hospitals: Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Regional Hospital, Providence Alaska Children’s Hospital and Providence Alaska Medical Center. Other facilities include Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer and Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital in Bethel.
Travel Nursing Jobs in Alaska: Pay and Contracts
Like everywhere else, the pay for Alaska travel nursing jobs can vary by facility, specialty and even time of year. But because there aren’t that many facilities in the state, travel RN jobs in Alaska can be hard to find. Currently there are fewer than 50 traveling nurse jobs in Alaska on the Triage job board, though this number can change at any time.
Before you sign a contract as a travel nurse in Alaska, make sure that your recruiter understands what your contract includes. Do you want to work nights or days? What about block scheduling? Even if and where you’re willing to float should all be spelled out so you don’t have any surprises when you arrive at your Alaska facility.
Getting a License for Alaska Travel Nurse Jobs
Like everywhere else, before you can take job travel nursing in Alaska, you need to get a license. Unfortunately, Alaska is not a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact so you’ll need to get a nursing license specifically for Alaska before you can work there.
Currently, nursing licenses are granted in about 7-8 weeks. If you’re asked for additional information, make sure to respond right away because it can take an additional 7-8 weeks to review the extra information. You may be able to receive a temporary license once all your information is submitted, but this isn’t guaranteed. If you receive a temporary license, it is valid for six months. Most facilities will allow you to work with a temporary license, but you should check with your recruiter and compliance specialist to make sure that your facility will accept this temporary license. To start the licensing process for Alaska, click here.
Things to Do in Alaska
Alaska is enormous so you’ll need to base things to do on your off-time on your location, unless you’re planning on driving a lot. But if wildlife and national parks are your jam, you’ll find plenty to do.
One of the most well-known and well-loved spots in Alaska is Denali National Park and Preserve. Denali is the tallest mountain in North America, but climbing it is not for hiking newbies. Many people choose to go with a local guide and that’s really the best way to make sure you’re safe. Look for a tour company with guides who are Wilderness First Responders and local Alaskans so you have the best experience possible. Want a little more excitement? Look for combo hikes and river rafting trips so you can see even more of the scenery. Some tour companies even do helicopter tours over Denali and you can be sure that that’s a great way to explore Alaska.
Wildlife is all over Alaska. If you look hard enough, you’ll see bears, wolves, moose, Dall sheep and caribou. In the oceans, look for humpback whales, orcas and gray whales. Smaller animals include puffins, bald eagles, snowy owls and sea otters, to name a few. Before you go, make a list of what you want to see and experience so you don’t leave Alaska with regrets.
The Northern Lights are a bucket list item for a lot of people and Alaska gives ample opportunities to see them. They’re most easily seen in the Interior and Arctic regions and Fairbanks is the best place to check them out. Many companies have created tours to better view the Northern Lights and these guides will know the best spots for seeing the lights. It’s possible to find both single day or multiple day tours and the multi day tours often include specialty lodging to give you a chance to really see the Northern Lights in a one-of-a-kind experience. Travelers have sent us some amazing pics of the Northern Lights so if you do capture some images, send them to [email protected].
Places to Eat in Alaska
You may not think about great restaurants when you think about Alaska, but there are plenty of great places to eat, especially in Anchorage. If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, check out Crush Bistro. The menu has a wide variety of wines by the glass and craft cocktails, plus entrees like duck, halibut and gnocchi. Some reviews call out the wine flights, which gives diners the ability to try three half pours of wine for $16 instead of a single glass for $11. Reservations aren’t required, but definitely recommended.
Anchorage and Honolulu are only a short, five hour flight, so it makes sense that Anchorage has a great poke restaurant. Lei’s Poke Stop offers an affordable lunch or dinner, or you can buy by the pound to take home for later. Prices seem to be quite affordable, with bowls starting at $15.
If you’re looking for a breakfast spot, check out Snow City Café. It’s normally busy, so if you’re planning on going during the busy tourist season, you should make reservations for breakfast or brunch. Favorites include a snow crab omelets, reindeer sausage and salmon cakes. If you loved what you had, you can take home housemade granola or coffee.
The name Charlie’s Bakery makes it seem like you can expect pastries, cakes or breads, it’s actually a Chinese restaurant with Asian bakery items like barbeque pork buns, egg tarts and red bean cream pie. Charlie’s Bakery has traditional American Chinese fare like eggrolls, cream cheese wontons, Mongolian beef, spare ribs and more. Prices are reasonable and locals call it some of Anchorage’s best Chinese food.
Finding Alaska Travel Nurse Housing
Finding housing when you’re working temporarily in Alaska can definitely be challenging. Housing can be expensive because of the scarcity. Before you take an assignment, look into available housing and make sure you’re good with the cost. Your recruiter or the facility may be able to help too.
Another thing to consider is your car. Alaska is quite a drive, no matter where in the United States you are and you have to go through Canada if you’re driving. This means you’ll need a passport so don’t forget this step. If you’re flying from another U.S. state to Alaska, you can forgo the passport, but it’s definitely a good idea to have one. In some other locations, you may be able to leave your car at home and instead rely on close housing options and Ubers or ride shares, but that will be more difficult in Alaska because of how spread out Alaska is and its lower population.
Are travel nurse jobs in Alaska right for you? If so, chat up a Triage recruiter to see what your options are in The Last Frontier.