Travel Nursing: Is it right for you?

Are you an adventurer at heart?

What if the idea of settling down and living in the same town your whole life doesn’t appeal to you? Maybe it’s time to look into something that will give you the opportunity to move around a little.

Are you considering joining the ranks of the approximately 25,000 travel nurses in the US? Take a moment to learn about travel nursing to see if this career path would be a good option for you.

What Is Travel Nursing?

Hospitals have constantly changing staffing needs. Nurses come and go. They take time off for continuing education. They may need maternity or paternity leave for a few weeks. Demand for services rises and falls.

Hiring new employees can be an unnecessary expense for a hospital. Especially when they know they’re only going to need the help for a few weeks. Without a flexible option, many hospitals may just choose to go understaffed for that time and hope their other employees can take up the slack.

That’s not really a good idea for obvious reasons and thus the world of travel nursing has arisen. Hospitals work with staffing agencies to find capable employees for a certain amount of time.

As a travel nurse, you can join one of these staffing agencies and have your pick of available positions needing to be filled.

Pros

There are both pros and cons to this flexible style of work. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Growth

Since travel nurses are required to get the hang of different hospitals rather quickly, having well-rounded nursing experience is a must. If you have a very limited specialty, you may find it difficult to do well in the travel nursing world. Thus, preparing for the transition to travel nursing will require a bit of study.

Plus, once you get started you’ll grow and learn things hands-on that other nurses may never get the chance to do. You’ll fulfill different roles at each of your jobs so you’ll learn a little about many different specialties in the field of nursing. You’ll never feel like you’re stuck in a rut with travel nursing.

Flexibility

Travel nursing is very flexible. You can choose where you want to live and have a lot of control over your daily schedule. (Depending on job availability, of course).

For the most part, you work out your days off and scheduling at the start of your contract.

Adventure

Having the freedom to move around is priceless for the adventurer at heart. If you love seeing new places and don’t want to be tied down to a particular city, travel nursing could be perfect for you.

Cons

Of course, it’s not all fun and games. Some aspects of travel nursing are hard and downright off-putting. Let’s look at a few cons.

Instability

Travel nurses do enjoy some stability from the staffing agency. The agency tends to handle their benefits packages and even housing and licensing costs.

However, the lifestyle itself is rather unstable. Moving around a lot can be fun and adventurous for a time. After a while, it may feel unstable and exhausting to always be entering a new position.

However, not all travel nursing contracts are short term. You could take a long-term contract here and there to give yourself a break from the constant state of flux.

Lack of Long-term Relationships

When you’re always moving around, it’s hard to maintain quality long-term relationships. Your coworkers are always changing and you can’t pack up all your friends and take them with you.

However, if your spouse works online or has similar flexibility, you may be able to move around together. Once you throw kids into the mix that can get a little tougher. But all sorts of families with the right sense of adventure can make this lifestyle work!

No Paid Time Off

Travel nursing is flexible and you can take time off virtually whenever you want. The downside is that it’s very unlikely you’ll be paid for it. Very few companies include paid time off in their travel nurse benefits packages.

Demand

You may wonder if there will always be work available. The demand for travel nurses only appears to be going up. In fact, some agencies report that they don’t have enough people to fill all the positions they have available.

Salary Potential

But the big question always is, “how much money can I make?” The short answer is that travel nursing can be a very lucrative career. The range is large but at the top end, you could be making $100,000 a year. Let’s look at why.

Hospitals will pay well for an experienced travel nurse. You’re helping them cut costs by not having to hire another full-time employee so they can afford to offer a bit more.

Plus, the position comes with a lot of perks and benefits. The staffing agency typically takes care of your health insurance, retirement benefits, and bonuses. You also may qualify for a number of deals and discounts. Plus, you often have your housing provided and paid for (a huge savings!).

Then there are all the tax breaks you can take advantage of as a travel nurse. You put it all together and you can make a tidy living being a travel nurse.

Is Travel Nursing for You?

What do you think? Is travel nursing for you? Only you can decide if this type of lifestyle would work for you.

The great thing about such a flexible job is that you can try it out for a while and see how it goes! You can even use travel nursing as a way to visit new cities and look for a new job. Some hospitals end up hiring on travel nurses after seeing how they are such a good fit.

Or you may fall in love with the freedom and spend your career city hopping around the United States. It’s up to you!

For more information about getting the right education to become a travel nurse, feel free to check out our resources.

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