Medical Surgical “med-surg” nurses monitor patients who are acutely ill or recovering from surgery in a variety of hospital and clinical settings. There are many opportunities to work and travel as a med-surg nurse and earn a higher salary while doing it.
Last year, a travel nurse with a medical surgical specialty earned an average gross weekly salary of $1,543 working an average of 36.3 hours per week. This includes non-taxable compensation like living stipends, meal stipends, housing, and relocation which add up to an average value of $1,162 per week.
Medical surgical specialists earned 11.2% less than the average gross weekly salary across all travel nursing disciplines in 2019.
What are the most common benefits for a medical surgical travel nurse?
While there are many benefits to working as a travel nurse, the most common benefits included as compensation are housing stipends, meal stipends, and health insurance. Be sure to asses how your benefits are taxed because this can affect your net income. For example, if you qualify as having a permanent tax home, many of these stipends are tax-free, which can mean thousands of dollars in savings.
Housing stipends can be used to cover costs associated with temporary housing like rent, utilities, and relocation expenses. In some cases employers will offer a choice between a stipend or employee housing. If you are confident your housing costs will be lower than the stipend amount, then you may be able to find your own place and save the difference.
On the other hand, housing provided by your employer can make the process of relocating a lot easier. Ask your recruiter how a stipend vs employee housing option is taxed. See our housing tips for travel nursing.
Avg housing stipend value: $584
It’s common for employers to cover living expenses, especially food costs since it is one of the largest expenses when relocating. Employers describe this benefit differently sometimes providing a “per diem” which is a maximum daily allowance for meals and incidental expenses. Others may offer a “stipend”, which is a lump sum paid periodically. It’s important to keep detailed records of your expenses and to verify whether you qualify for tax-free stipends.
Average meal stipend value: $668
Many travel nurse employers offer health insurance at a reasonable rate, however coverage may only apply throughout the duration of your assignment. You’ll want to understand the exact start/end dates of your coverage before signing an agreement to avoid gaps in coverage.
As an alternative, many travel nurses choose private coverage or elect COBRA in between jobs. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a higher rate of pay by choosing private insurance and opting out of the employer’s insurance option.
Where do medical surgical travel nurses make the most money?
In locations where there is a greater need for nursing staff, pay tends to be higher. Some states also have a higher cost of living so employers offer higher compensation relative to those costs. Keep in mind, each state has specific licensing requirements. The tables below show the states with the highest med-surg travel nurse salaries throughout last year and up to the current month.
Top 10 highest paying states for medical surgical travel nurses last year
|State||Avg Weekly Salary||Max Weekly Salary|
|District of Columbia||$1,764||$2,534|
How does medical surgical compare to other travel nurse specialties?
Employers are often willing to pay more for certain specialties, particularly those that require extensive experience or education.
Medical surgical ranked 72 out of 82 RN specialties in 2019, earning 11.2% less on average than other specialties.
See how the Med Surg specialty compares to the top paying travel RN specialties over the past year and up to the current month.
Top 10 specialties earning top-dollar for a travel nurse last year
|Specialty||Avg Weekly Salary||Max Weekly Salary|
|Director of Nursing||$2,264||$3,196|
|CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist||$2,232||$3,347|
|Director of Nursing||$2,408||$3,244|
|Cardiac Cath Lab||$2,063||$3,175|
Travel Med Surg Nurse Salary FAQs