The thought of becoming a travel nurse can be very challenging. While there are many great reasons to become a travel nurse, there are several things to consider before deciding if it is the correct career path for you. Everyone’s choice is different and you need to make your own choice. The following article covers a few of the pros and cons of becoming a travel nurse.
Pros for Becoming Travel Nurse
- The Experience
You get to work in a variety of the best hospitals around the country. This helps you to broaden your skills, learn different methods of care, meet fellow nurses and doctors, and enhance your resume. Want to work at the next children’s hospital in the country? You can do it. Want to work at the top cancer centers? You can do it. Anything you want to do is available to you because of the seasonal need for nurses. Whether you’re relatively new to the healthcare profession or a veteran, travel healthcare will open your eyes to a wealth of new experiences. You will see how different facilities are managed. You will have the opportunity to work in a variety of fields, if you choose. And, you will learn some amazing things from all the different practitioners you have the opportunity to work with.
You get to visit cities you otherwise would probably not get to experience. Sure, you may visit, but living there and visiting are two different things. As a travel nurse, you can choose to travel all over the country or if you prefer to stay near your hometown, you can select an assignment in your local area. Some nurses prefer to travel every few months, while others rather stay in one area so they can experience all the seasons of the area. As a travel nurse, you’ll get to see and stay in places that you’ve always wanted to. You can work with your recruiter to build a wish list and spend time in some of our nation’s top destinations.
- The Pay
Since the travel nurse company usually pays for your housing and other smaller expenses, you actually make more money than when at home. In your home city you still have to pay rent, mortgage, light, water, etc. While traveling, these should be taken care of by the travel nurse company. This leaves you with food, fun, and car expenses. Traveling nurses are usually provided with an apartment near the medical facility where they will be working including furniture and other amenities, competitive salaries of up to $40 per hour, bonuses, a comprehensive medical, dental, life insurance and retirement plans and other health benefits. The travel company also reimburses the expenses that the traveling nurses would incur while traveling, tax-free. Let’s face it, many healthcare professionals get into travel because of the pay. Many traveling jobs pay excellent wages and offer housing allowances. This allows you rake in an outstanding salary in a short amount of time!
- Hospital Politics
The typical travel assignment is for 13 weeks. Therefore, it is very difficult to be sucked into the politics that tend to unfortunately creep into many nursing units. There is probably not an experienced nurse anywhere that doesn’t understand the frustrations associated with the negative dynamics or “politics” that can take place between fellow nurses, managers, administration, and physicians. Travel nurses have no obligation to stick around and deal with these dynamics.
Cons for Becoming Travel Nurse
Travel nursing careers tend to be more bedside, hands on clinical nursing. It is difficult to move up the corporate ladder as a travel nurse. If nursing management is your career goal, then that will be difficult to find as a travel nurse. However, travel nursing can provide a great skill set to help make nurses better managers. This often means getting the experience as a travel nurse and then settling down into management role afterwards.
With constant travel, it can be a challenge to establish roots and build personal relationships. It’s important to know this going in, so that you can plan appropriately and ensure that the travel doesn’t put a strain on your personal life. Travel nurses that go it alone can become lonely or homesick. Many travel nurses bring their family or pet along with them to keep them company.
- Cross Training
Travel nurses tend to work in their current area of specialty only. Nurses that wish to travel under a specialty that is different from their experience will be sorely disappointed, since most facilities are looking for nurses with 2+ years’ experience in their specialty. Hospitals expect travel nurses to be able to hit the floor running with minimal orientation and will not invest several weeks of orientation into a travel nurse with a desire to try a new clinical specialty.
- Temporary Position
Since travel nursing can been seen by some as a temporary job within a facility, travel nursing itself can be viewed as temporary career move. Being on a temporary contract can bring along with it some level of uncertainty. Therefore, it’s important to work closely with your recruiter/travel agency to line up your next assignment well in advance.
Like any career choice, the decision to become a traveling nurse should be a decision made with care and consideration. The truth is that there are many great things that a travel nursing career offers. However, travel nursing does have a downside and is important that nurses know both the downsides and upsides before committing to an assignment.