The Differences Between a NP and RN
Advice for Talent & Job Seekers, Healthcare, Talent in Healthcare

Differences Between a NP and RN

Everyone assumes that travel NPs have the same responsibilities as travel RNs, but in fact, travel NPs and RNs are very different.

Getting Your License

For travel RNs licensing can be tricky, if you obtained your license in a compact state, then it will be valid in every other small state which is a huge time saver, but it’s not valid in non-compact states and you’d need a new license in each of those states.

For NPs, the licensing process is much longer. You need to obtain your ARNP license, your RN license, and possibly your prescribing license. You’d also have to update your DEA certificate with each state you choose to work in. Without the DEA certificate, you can not prescribe a controlled substance.


Each state carries a different Scope of Practice for each role. In individual states, an NP has full practice authority where an RN takes orders from MDs, NPs, and PAs. However, some states have stricter rules that require the NP to work under MD supervision with a practice agreement. Practice agreements also have to be submitted to the board of nursing.

Your Clinical Setting

Travel RNs work in hospitals on various floors anywhere from the ICU to the PACU in acute care for the most part. Sometimes RNs handle case management as well. A travel NP can work in many more settings and outside of hospitals too. NPs can work in military bases, schools, VA clinics, home care, retail clinics, doctor’s offices, and many more!

Which is in Higher Demand?

Both positions are in high demand; in fact, there’s a looming medical job shortage. It’s highly unlikely you’ll go long without a job as an NP or RN. Travel NPs however, have a harder time than travel RNs due to competition and the fact that open positions are more likely to go to PAs or locum tenens Physicians over NPs.

Which Makes More?

A travel RN contract pays out a weekly stipend containing meal pay, housing, your hourly rate, and tax savings, and incidentals. A contract like this would make you considered a W-2 employee.

RNs also get an hourly rate as well as an extra per diem for incidentals like gas. The housing stipend goes directly to the landlord or hotel. Furthermore, NPs can be either 1099 proprietors or W-2 employees. In most cases, NPs don’t get a meal stipend but are allowed to deduct meal costs from their taxes.

W-2 employees have access to benefits like health insurance or 401K where 1099 positions carry no profits due to the tax savings. “1099 positions” often pay more and allow for more tax deductions since technically you’d be considered self-employed.

Contract Lengths

Generally, the average travel RN contracts run for 13 weeks. Travel NP contracts are mostly 12 weeks but can go for as long as a year or as short as one day. Both travel NPs and RNs have the option to extend their contracts after it runs out.

What’s Similar?

With all the differences its hard to believe people think they’re pretty much the same position, but many similarities reinforce this idea. Both travel RNs and NPs have their licensing paid for or can be reimbursed, and both have paid housing and meals. The contracts last around the same amount of time and can both be extended if the person wishes to stay. Their work is primarily sought after. In the case of both positions, the travel contract pays more than a permanent position, and both carry many tax benefits. They both travel for free and provide many opportunities to grow as a person and a Nurse!

Are you looking to begin your adventure? Start here!